IT Innovation

Sleep, Resolve, and Shine

Explore gadgets and mobile apps, and test your tech knowledge.

November/December 2015

Apps: Resolutions
Every new year brings with it a raft of resolutions: get organized, get fit, get a life. Here are some apps designed to streamline common goals.

Interapp automations are easy to accomplish with IFTTH (If This, Then That). Templated “recipes” that run in the background let you create powerful connections with one simple statement—if this, then that. Automate the process of having photos from your New Year’s Eve party uploaded to Facebook, for example. Free (Android, iOS).


Face-to-face (or over-the-phone) meetings give you the opportunity to exchange keys with others, so e-mails, texts, and other communications can be trusted as to the source. This all happens transparently, as the app “slings” your key to one or more contacts, and vice versa, enabling trusted introductions to others, for example. Free (Android, iOS).


Push files and links between your devices or to your colleagues. Send and receive SMS messages and mirror mobile phone notifications on your laptop. Free (Android, iOS).



If your New Year’s resolution includes improving your Chinese, Spanish, or English, Microsoft Translator—now available on Android—may help. Downloadable offline language packs let you translate wherever you might be. Free (Android, Apple Watch, Android Watch, Windows Phone).
A Sound Solution for Better Sleep
The Sleep Shepherd monitors your brain waves in real time and uses a biofeedback loop to help you sleep better. It’s a hat made of stretchable, breathable fabric (85 percent nylon, 15 percent spandex) with built-in sensors that monitor your brain waves and then adjust the tones you hear to slow your brain down and help you sleep. Available in several different configurations and sizes. Ships to more than 100 countries. Brings new meaning to the term “nightcap.” US$149.99.
A Bright Idea

Extend the Wi-Fi range in your home or office without cluttering-up the place, with the Sengled Boost, an LED bulb with built-in Wi-Fi repeater. More bulbs means more places to enjoy your content without worrying about slower speeds. US$49.99.


Top 10 Ranking of Devices Users Trust Most Researchers in the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University asked 2,000 US consumers to rank the
10 electronic devices that they trust most with their personal information. People have the most trust in their home phone systems, followed by their home security systems. Concerns about personal information being at risk are highest for laptop computers (54.3 percent), desktop computers (49.3 percent), and smartphones (48.2 percent). On average, users trust their personal devices just as much as their work devices.

Carnegie Mellon University, College of Engineering

1. To varying degrees, big data relies on HDFS, otherwise known as _________.
a. Hierarchical database filing structures
b. Haptic data filtering sequences
c. Hadoop Distributed File System
d. Hive data file system

2. To what does the acronym DRY refer?
a. Deeply recursive YAML
b. The “don’t repeat yourself” software principle and design pattern
c. A writing style noted for its lackluster quality
d. Something that is not wet

3. Which of the following is a technique for protecting against buffer overflow attacks?
a. Address space layout randomization
b. Parameter passing
c. Register spillage protection
d. The “return to sender” design pattern


1. (c) HDFS stands for the Hadoop Distributed File System, the storage mechanism that underlies the processing functions of MapReduce. 2. (b) Favored by Rails gurus, DRY refers to the “don’t repeat yourself” software development pattern, which mandates having a single unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system. The goal is to avoid making sweeping changes throughout a distributed system whenever any one element changes. 3. (a) Address space layout randomization, or ASLR, is a security technique that randomly rearranges address spaces in memory, including positions of the stack, heap, libraries, and the base of the executable, so that attackers cannot exploit the function in memory (protects against buffer overflow attacks).

Photography byClem Onojeghuo,Unsplash