Category: Gadgets

Fix Epson Stylus SX105 Scanner Cropping Images Automatically

The Epson Stylus SX105 all in one printer and scanner is a great addition for your everyday office stuff, but the default settings in the scanner software tend to add unwanted cropping of images to pretty much anything you try to scan. While cropping is alright for most documents, in some situations you would prefer for the scanner to not crop scanned material on its own.

How to fix scanner cropping issue

I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong with the device and eventually failed to detect any anomalies because the actual problem laid elsewhere. By default the Epson Stylus scanner software is setup to crop anything you scan, but you can easily change that by doing the following:

  • Open up the Epson scan software
  • In home mode click on Configuration
  • Under Preview pane set Thumbnail cropping area to Large


Click OK and your Epson Stylus SX105 scanner should no longer be cropping images automatically. Instead it will scan the entire document with all of its corners, cracks and imperfections it may or may not have. I have also provided you with a screenshot of the entire process to help you get it done fast.

Fix epson stylus sx105 cropping images issue

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Google Cardboard – A Gateway to the VR World

Remember when the first smartphones used to cost a fortune? It’s the same with Virtual Reality technology because like any other first generation technology, it’s still very young and out of reach for the average folk. Currently the consumer grade VR Headset costs around $600 + shipping and handling. Kind of crispy if you ask me.

Experience Virtual Reality using your phone

Virtual Reality VR Headset Using Your Phone

However there’s still a way to test the waters and experience the world of Virtual Reality first hand for less than what you’d normally pay for a happy meal. Google Cardboard is a Do It Yourself cardboard device that uses your smartphone coupled by two specially designed lenses to provide a rather immersive Virtual Reality experience.

In case you didn’t know, most smartphones today are already filled with movement tracking technology which is the basic building block in any VR headset. And while the Cardboard isn’t meant to compete with the latest VR technology, it will definitely provide a fun and exciting experience especially if you haven’t used any virtual reality devices in the past. It feels like you’re really inside the game world!

Google started a snowball effect

Google released the schematics to build your own Virtual Reality headset at home using a couple of lenses and some cardboard way back in 2014 with the intention of making people realize what was possible in the VR world and now, just two years later, all the major technology giants like PlayStation, HTC, Oculus and Microsoft are rushing to release their own VR technology to the general public. The year 2016, as Techio explains, will be the year when VR finally goes mainstream and well, the world will never really be the same!

A poor man’s virtual reality headset

While the recently released consumer grade VR headsets remain rather expensive for at least a few more years, the Do-It-Yourself cardboard device is a great substitute for experiencing immersive virtual reality yourself for the first time. It’s no surprise then that the Google Cardboard is also known as the poor man’s virtual reality headset.

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How to use Google as a free mobile phone tracker

Whether you have bad memory or spent the previous night partying hard, losing your phone is probably one of the most annoying things that can happen especially if you’re in a hurry. Have you ever lost your phone and decided to call it in order to locate the device only to realize a moment later that you can’t call because your phone is lost in the first place? Well, now you can! Thanks to Google, you can now make your phone ring using only your computer with an internet connection.

Cell phone tracker through Google search

Google Find My Phone Android Search ResultOne of the easiest ways to ring your phone and find it easily is by simply typing in find my phone directly into Google’s search field.

Given that you have fulfilled a couple of prerequisites, you should see how Google is trying to locate your phone and in a few moments say that it has been found.

A button should then appear right under the minimap making it available to ring your phone for a few minutes.

Phone tracker requirements:

1. You must have an Android phone

2. Wireless connectivity or mobile data must be enabled

3. Your device’s location access must be turned on and be signed in to your Google account

4. Your phone must be previously linked to your Google’s account

Note: If your phone is turned off or no internet connection is available then this feature unfortunately doesn’t work because Google’s find my phone service isn’t a GPS phone tracker.

Still can’t find your phone?

phone is lostIf your phone has been lost for a while the battery may have drained out completely. Since the above method only works with a phone that’s turned on, the other option would be to go to your mobile service provider and have them triangulate the last known approximate location.

However I can’t guarantee they’ll help because the last time my phone was lost the mobile data provider just said it was out of their reach and I should try going straight to the police.

I always had a feeling my phone was stolen, but I had no actual proof to back my claims so the police decided not to spend their resources on something that’s not criminal in nature and so my poor phone remained lost forever.

Nowadays there should also be a few phone tracker apps available on the Android store so it’s definitely worth more research, but what will most likely save you next time you lose your phone is simply connecting it to your Google account and enabling mobile data at all times.

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Lubuntu is a great lightweight Linux distro for any old Netbook

About 4 years ago I purchased this old netbook from a guy who apparently only needed it for a single plane trip to watch some movies. Three years were well spent together with the MSI Wind U100 upgraded with 2GB of RAM, 1.6 GHZ processor and Intel GMA950 graphics chip, but I eventually realized that it wasn’t enough for my needs (FL Studio) and so the little guy was abandoned for an Ultrabook (Series 5). It has been at least a year since I even laid eyes on the netbook, but today I decided to install a very lightweight Linux distro on it and see what happens.

Lubuntu is lightweight and user friendly

I have to admit I’m not really an avid Linux user as I have only used a couple of live systems in the past. All the command line stuff is mostly unknown to me and although I can navigate through the systems with the help of various online guides like Cool Computing for example, I still prefer a good and friendly Desktop user interface.

On top of that Lubuntu is a very energy efficient and lightweight Linux distro with the minimum RAM requirements of as low as 128MB- that’s literally a PC from two decades ago so I figured it would work perfectly for an old netbook that still packs a whopping 2GB of RAM (that’s very good by netbook standards).

Uhh… where’s the hard drive?

When I pressed the power button after more than a year of being idle, the netbook said it was unable to find a bootable media. It almost sounded like it was mad at me for abandoning it after three great years together so I opened it up and found that the hard drive was indeed missing.

Netbook MSI Wind U100 Hard Drive Missing

After more than half an hour of being clueless I finally realized I had removed the hard drive and stuffed it in one of those portable HDD casings found on eBay and not surprisingly the whole 160GB was used up with various photos and videos taken from family get togethers, hiking trips and stuff like that so formatting was out of the question.

Using Lubuntu live system for now

With no free hard drive available for me right now, I am going to postpone this little project of mine, but is that going to stop me from using the Lubuntu? Nope. In case you didn’t know, you can try almost any distro out there without installing it by running the entire OS from your pendrive. Here’s a photo of my MSI Wind U100 running Lubuntu from the USB drive with no HDD whatsoever. Pretty neat, huh?

MSI Wind U100 Running Lubuntu Pendrive

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Best Laptops under $500 to Buy

Picking the best laptop can be a challenging task, because there are just so many different types available from many different brands. Of course, the reliability is also very different. There are many aspects to consider when picking a laptop and one of them is of course the price. If you are looking for a good laptop priced under $500 then you’re in luck, because there are quite a few laptops with decent specs priced less than $500. In this article, you can compare the following best laptops under 500 and choose the one that’s most appropriate for your needs.

Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 Under 500

One of the best options for you to consider is the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241. It has a lot of benefits that make it worth checking out. For example, the performance- it comes with an Intel Core i5 processor. It has more than enough RAM (8GB) and a hard drive that can store a whopping 1000GB of data. On top of that it has a comfortable 16 inch screen and the battery lasts about 5 hours with normal use. The whole setup weighs less than 5 pounds making it easy to carry around.

Asus Q502LA-BB15T12Asus Q502LA-BB15T12 Under 500

Another one in our “best laptops less than 500” series is the Asus Q502LA-BB15T12 which has the same Intel Core i5 processor with a speed of 1.7GHz making it a pretty fast laptop. It has the same 8GB RAM and 1TB hard drive and while it’s true that the 15.6 inch screen is slightly smaller than on the previous laptop, the difference is so small that you won’t even notice it unless you compare them side by side. The averaging 7.5 hour battery life makes it a perfect laptop for anyone who spends a lot of time on the move. Additionally it weighs just 4.85 pounds so it’s indeed very portable and travel friendly.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 E45W-C4200XToshiba Satellite Radius 14 E45W-C4200X Under 500

On the third place we will find the Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 E45W-C4200X. The Intel Core i3 processor is slightly older, but the performance difference is barely noticeable for an average user. It has 6GB of RAM which by my personal standards is still more than enough. The 500GB hard drive might be too small in this decade, but it should be enough to last you for a while. The 14 inch screen is noticeably smaller, but shouldn’t be too uncomfortable unless you’re used to staring at big screens. For a traveler, a businessman or a guy like me who enjoys to write outdoors, the battery which lasts about 8 hours in normal conditions is pretty much a godsend.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-B5152Toshiba Satellite S55t-B5152 Under 500

On the fourth place we will find the Toshiba Satellite S55t-B5152 which is again a great laptop for an every day user. With an Intel Core i5 processor supported with 2.2 GHz speed you can achieve decent processing power for your daily needs. Perhaps the 4GB RAM and 500GB hard drive are a little bit too low for modern standards, but the 6 hour long battery life will surely compensate for that. The Windows 8.1 operating system supports your activities on your laptop and because it weighs less than 5 pounds, it’s yet again a great portable laptop for every day carry.

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500LA-EB31TAsus Transformer Book Flip TP500LA-EB31T Under 500

Then we have the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500LA-EB31T which also belongs to the best laptops under $500 category. It is powered by a new Intel processor and supported with 1.9 GHz processor speed. Asus, in order to attract more buyers, stuffed this laptop with 6GB of RAM. It is also portable weighing only 5 pounds in total, but the 4.5 hour long battery life is probably not a top choice if you’re constantly on the move.

It has a premium aluminum casing and a soft keyboard which make it very comfortable to use.

HP Pavilion x360 2 in 1HP Pavilion x360 2 in 1 Under 500

If you are looking for a convertible laptop with affordable price and one that has good quality, the HP Pavilion x360 2 in 1 could be the solution. It’s as generic as it can get for today’s standards with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 500GB hard disk, but it can be considered as one of the most portable laptops because it is designed with only 13.3 inches screen and 3.8 pounds weight. With 6 hours of battery life, it’s a great laptop to carry around. Other interesting features are the sturdy hinges and loud speakers.

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-362QAcer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-362Q Under 500

Acer also contributes to our list with their Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-362Q. It comes with an Intel Core i3 processor and 2.0 GHz processing speed and is stuffed with 4GB RAM and a 32GB hard disk which is pretty low by today’s standards, but can work for you if you don’t need a lot of space. Ie. if you work mainly with documents and don’t have a lot of photos and videos. The 15.6 inch full HD screen is perfect for watching a movie or two and it’s a great traveling companion as it only weighs 4.85 pounds and the battery can last up to 9 hours! Additionally it has a comfortable keyboard and loud & clear audio.

Lenovo Yoga 2Lenovo Yoga 2 Under 500

To get the best laptop for less than $500, you can also consider choosing the Lenovo Yoga 2 which is not really a laptop, but more like a tablet. The Intel Premium Mobile processor is not meant for gaming, but it still has 4GB of RAM which comes in handy when you are multitasking. Its crystal clear display is only 11.6 inches in size and with weighing just 3 pounds, it’s considered to be one of the smallest tablets out there. The battery lasts up to 5 hours and it looks rather sleek overall.

Acer Aspire E5-571-58CGAcer Aspire E5-571-58CG Under 500

And finally we have the Acer Aspire E5-571-58CG. This cheap laptop has an Intel Core i5 processor powered with 2.2 GHz processor speed. Given it has a great 15.6 inch screen and a whopping 6GB of RAM along with a 1TB hard drive, this laptop can be your all in one entertainment “console“. It can play many different games and the battery which lasts up to 7 hours should be more than enough for anyone.

As you can see, you do not need to spend a lot of money to get a decent laptop. Furthermore, if $500 is still too much for you, you can get good laptops for even less than $300. The best laptops under 300 are, for example, HP Stream K2L96UA, Toshiba Satellite C55-B5240X, Asus Transformer Book T100HA-C4-GR, etc. I hope you found this article useful and hopefully this will be a good reference point for you if you are looking for a new laptop for less than $500 USD.

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Best drones of 2015 and GoPro capable drone reviews

Drone is a popular nickname given to an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV in short), which refers to any flying machine without a human pilot on board. In the past drones were mostly used by the military in reconnaissance missions, but like almost any other cool piece of technology, it too eventually found its way into the hands of civilians. For the last couple of years drones have been gaining popularity among policemen, firefighters, poacher hunters and even photographers and technology enthusiasts.

Best drones of 2015

It’s pretty difficult to choose the best drone right away because every drone has its strengths and weaknesses so you have to consider all the angles like why do you need a drone and what are your expectations. For example do you need a drone with a camera that can record videos and take photos from the sky which can be useful if you’re a farmer and need a better oversight of your crops, or perhaps you need a drone to deliver packages from one place to another like Amazon? Depending on your needs I have listed a couple of drones for you that have received the highest ratings on other tech related websites:

Beginner Drones

Best drone for the money best maneuverabilityThe Blade Nano QX RTF is durable and relatively cheap (about $60) without fancy equipment so it’s the perfect drone for newbies to learn how to fly. You wouldn’t want to crash your $2,000 USD drone on your first day, would you?

If you’re comfortable paying $300+ then the Nano QX FPV RTF includes a first person view headset that shows you the drone’s perspective of the world. The Blade Nano also has the best maneuverability among the cheaper class drones so it’s the perfect drone for beginners to learn flying.

Worlds smallest droneThe Axis Aerius Drone is the world’s smallest quadcopter according to the company that builds them. It’s no bigger than a quarter (3cm x 3cm x 2cm) and it looks incredibly cute. You can fly it about 5-7 minutes at a time and you can recharge it within 15 minutes via USB cable.

It has a 3.7v 80mAh Battery and 4 bright LED lights which make it ideal to fly even at night time. I wouldn’t give this as much credit as the Blade Nano, but it’s dirt cheap and so small it can be used indoors without having to worry about broken vases and things like that!

GoPro Drones

Apart from the upcoming “official” drone from GoPro that’s going to be released sometime in 2016 and will most likely be way overpriced, there are quite a few GoPro capable drones on the market today for the more price sensitive buyer. Take a look at some of the best GoPro drones sorted by price (cheapest first):

QR X350 by WalkeraQR X350 by Walkera

This relatively cheap GoPro drone has a battery life of just a little under 30 minutes and it costs less than $400 without the camera. The company that builds these, Walkera, is known for their high-end drones and the QR X350 is their simplest model yet. It comes with the standard Devo7 2.4Ghz Transmitter, GPS altitude hold, one key return home and the optional Wi-Fi control feature.

iris+ droneIRIS+ by 3D Robotics

The IRIS+ with its most notable feature, the Pixhawk autopilot system which allows agile, autonomous flight, thanks to its two-axis gimbal, is another great performing GoPro capable drone for a reasonable price of just under $600. Like the drone above, it doesn’t ship with a GoPro camera, but it’s an additional option to choose from. Another notable feature for IRIS+ is the Automatic Mission Planning mode where you can chart a predetermined flight plan using an android app.

Conclusion

As you can see the world of drones has exploded in just a few years and new models are coming out all the time which of course lowers the price of the older and less advanced models that newbies (like me) can use to experiment with before going after some more advanced technology.

If you’re interested in learning more about drones and want to know how to mount a GoPro camera on your drone feel free to visit Drones For Dummies which is a great blog about everything drone related.

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Mechanical Gaming Mouse and Programmable Mouse Review

I had to order a new gaming mouse recently, after my incredibly annoying parrot decided to completely destroy the cable of my previous mouse. I’m quite price sensitive when it comes to pretty much anything, so I wasn’t even looking at the Razer class gaming mice, but instead went to eBay to look for good deals. As it happens, I might have just stumbled on the best deal of 2015!

It looks like a Transformer

ergonomic gaming mouse, best gaming mouse, mechanical mouseThat’s what my sister said when she first saw it and I kind of have to agree with her, but not only does it look badass, I was genuinely surprised to see that the cable is not a regular rubber/plastic cable, but a neat braided cable that almost looks like a shoelace. Five stars for a durable cable that’s not too easy to break even if you wanted to!

Cool lights show

When the mouse is in stand-by mode the DPI indicator light will fade in and out every couple of seconds making it look almost as if the mouse is “breathing”. Depending on which DPI setting you’re on, the color can be either green, blue, red or white and you can adjust the pulsating speed easily using the bundled software.

Triple Click

Because it’s a programmable mouse, meaning you can assign all sorts of different functions to the 9 buttons that are strategically placed all over the mouse, you can set it to triple click for you when you click just once. This is especially useful in FPS games like Counter Strike where you need to kill your enemies fast.

Easy on the hand

The mouse weighs about 230 grams (give or take) which for me is pretty much perfect. Your hand can rest comfortably on it and there’s enough force in the button springs to prevent the accidental “rest click” from happening. With up to 4000 DPI, this mouse is guaranteed to satisfy even the most professional gamer in performance quality.

The cons

I can’t really say anything bad performance wise, but for the sake of this article I will say that the scrolling wheel really looks cheap. You can clearly see the place where it’s been glued together and I can see how it could make a perfectionist slightly furious.

Another annoyance would be the manual. It’s written in hieroglyphs and I’m pretty sure the majority of the western folk can’t read it. The same goes for the bundled software, BUT there’s an option to choose the English language so once you figure out how to install the program, you’re pretty much all set.

Conclusion

Leave aside the Asian manual that you cannot read, and this gaming mouse will probably be the best gaming mouse you have ever used unless of course you’re a former Razer user. And even then, this mechanical mouse can easily rival all of those over priced high tech gaming mice, because it has pretty much all of the same functions and features for only a fraction of the price. A true bargain for $47,95 and free shipping!

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This adjustable picture hook will make your life just a little bit easier

Hanging a picture on a wall might seem like a simple task at first, but if you’ve ever had to do it yourself you know how difficult it can be to adjust the frame on the wall just right and in a way that will leave the wall not looking like Swiss cheese in the process. Before drilling a hole in your wall you have to take into account the length of the wire that holds the frame as well as other measurements, but thanks to a man named Dean Greve you no longer have to worry about any of that.

4-way adjustable picture hanger4-way adjustable picture hanger

Dean Greve has just invented a fully adjustable picture hook and by fully adjustable I mean it literally- you can move your picture frame left or right and up or down to adjust your picture perfectly in the position where it needs to be.

What’s really cool about this little picture hanger is the fact that it’s made entirely out of recycled plastic! (well, not the screws).

Picture hanger for gallery wall

The usefulness of this picture hanger might not be that obvious at first, but imagine for a moment hanging multiple picture frames on a gallery wall or a grid layout. Without having to measure anything you can simply adjust your pictures so they are evenly separated from each other. This invention is literally a godsend for anyone suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (i.e. a perfectionist like me).

Adjustable picture hook

You can get all sorts of different picture frame hooks from your local hardware store, but they’re all basically just fancy looking nails that have absolutely no special functions. You just nail it to your wall and hope to get it right the first time. With Dean’s latest invention your life just got a little easier. You can now adjust your frames, move them up or down, left or right and separate them evenly on a gallery wall without having to drill another hole in your wall.

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Convert VHS to Digital and Transfer Videos from VHS to PC

If you happened to watch a lot of movies in the 90’s or simply used your VCR to record some of your favorite tv shows on tape, you might be wondering what to do with old VHS tapes now in the digital age. Maybe you even have a couple of VHS tapes containing some long forgotten family videos? Wouldn’t it be nice to watch these tapes all over again?

VHS to PC and VHS to Computer Adapter and ConverterVHS to PC

If you’re looking for the easiest way to transfer vhs to digital format (vhs to computer), then you’re going to need three separate items:

First and foremost you’ll need the EasyCAP vhs to PC adapter which will cost you about $8.68. It’s the most important device that will convert the signal coming from your old VCR into something that a modern computer can understand (the digital format).

Secondly, depending on your VCR it’s highly probable that you will also need a SCART to RCA adapter. In fact, I don’t even know for sure whether or not there are VCR systems out there that have it any other way.

Finally you are going to need a cable to connect the previous two items. You’re probably thinking that this is stupid and I don’t blame you. It’s stupid, but it’s also the cheapest setup! Luckily the Male to Male RCA cable isn’t really that expensive (less than two bucks).

Converting VHS to Digital

The process is pretty straight forward and EasyCAP comes with its own drivers so you don’t have to spend time searching for those. I haven’t taken the time to write a proper guide yet on how to convert VHS to digital, but I’m sure you’ll find plenty of great videos on Youtube.

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This Hidden Spy Camera Pen is one of the most discrete Hidden Cameras available

This neat little spy camera is disguised as a fully functional ball point pen so nobody will suspect a thing when you’re taking photos or recording videos with it. Apart from being useful for the peeping tom, this cool gadget that looks like something straight out of a James Bond movie, can actually become very handy in situations where hard video evidence is the only thing that will protect you (I’m talking about the ever increasing police brutality incidents that are happening all over the US right now).

Spy gear can be useful

Spy Camera Hidden Spy Cam Pen Ball PointSpying on someone is in itself a questionable activity and without going too deeply into the ethical side of things, I don’t encourage anyone to secretly use this spy cam to spy on someone for no reason. You wouldn’t want someone to do this to you, right?

There are however quite a few legitimate reasons why you would need spy equipment. For example as I mentioned above, to fight police brutality.

Just imagine for a moment that you are in a similar position as this Uber Driver. It’s great that the customer secretly took this footage, but it was mere luck that a camera was readily available. Most of the times you simply don’t have the luxury of reaching for your iPhone to record what’s happening.

 

Hidden Cameras for Surveillance

Spy gear hidden spy camera record videos take pictures

Just a couple of years ago such a surveillance camera was pretty expensive and really hard to find. In fact only a handful of special places actually sold these.

Nowadays however, you can easily get your hands on a really well disguised surveillance camera for less than what you spend on your evening meal. For example this particular spy camera pen costs only $7,68 USD making it one of the most affordable spy gadgets currently available on the market.

Hidden spycam pen features

Video resolution: 720×480

Picture resolution: 1280×960

Uses micro SD card for storage (not included)

Built in rechargeable battery lasts for about 1 hour

30 minutes of video takes up about 500MB of storage

Dimensions: 148 x 14 millimeters

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