EBlocker lets you block online ads, tracker software

Online ads and digital trackers continue to be an annoying -– and potentially costly or even dangerous –- part of using the Internet, especially when it’s kids who are the ones surfing the Web.

patent-claimedEBlocker is a small, white plug-and-play smart device. It automatically blocks online services that are secretly collecting information about computer users while they’re using any devices in the home to access the Internet. EBlocker can also cloak the device that is being used to access the Internet –- whether it’s a computer, mobile device or game system –- and make it appear that a different device is being used to access the Internet to fool dynamic pricing engines. Once connected, all online traffic is routed through eBlocker for analysis.

The patent-pending eBlocker ships in June at about $217, although early bird Kickstarter backers can get one at pledges starting at about $108. Its makers are looking to raise $81,700 by Feb. 17.

eBlocker must address whether its protection of all home Internet devices justifies buying it instead of just relying on filtering programs and services that perform some of the same blocking functions. One advantage it has is that there is no software to install, a feature that will likely be appealing to many consumers. But buyers will have to cough up more money –- at least $59 — to continue using eBlocker after the first year or they will not get automatic  updates anymore. Future pricing of eBlocker Pro automatic updates start at $59.



Back to the Backers: Neobase networked hard drive and personal cloud base station

After failing to reach their Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000 last year, the makers of Neobase are now selling the networked hard drive/personal cloud base station direct to consumers via their own website.

patent-claimedNeobase is a private hub that enables users to securely share photos, videos, chatting, written documents and other content with only their family and friends. All the information is secured locally on the device in the user’s home. It ships Dec. 24 and carries a price of $249, although it’s being offered now at the introductory price of $199.

The patent-pending Neobase may be a good solution for some consumers who are overly cautious about privacy and security concerns related to social networks and cloud storage services. It’s hard to tell for certain, however, just how secure Neobase is based on the website’s claims alone. Neobase’s makers, on the other hand, have made one welcome change from their original plans: there is no longer a limit of five accounts for each unit. Users can now create as many additional accounts for family and friends as they want, according to the Web site. But the experience of shared users may be impacted by their upstream bandwidth, the device’s makers warn. Each additional user also requires part of the drive to be set aside for those extra people, eating up some of the available space on the drive. That, however, shouldn’t be much of an issue because Neobase ships with 1 TB of space.



Backerjack Podcast #15: Telemedicine Tricorders, Privacy Protectors, and Milk Minders

In Episode 15 of the Backerjack Podcast, surly Steve and redeeming Ross check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • MedWand, a 7-in-1 telemedicine enabler that combines measuring your vitals with spot checks of ears, nose and throat
  • Shellfire Box, a tiny network device that routes all your home traffic through a tested virtual private network
  • SmartQsine, a system of connected miniature scales that can let you know when you’re close to running out of foods or recipe ingredients.

Neobase lets you create your own Facebook for private social sharing

The world has never seen a Web site like Facebook, where a sizable chunk of its population — 1.3 billion people — share details and media about their lives to their circle of friends. On its login screen, Facebook notes that it’s free to use and always will be. But it makes money via targeted ads. That’s why there is always close scrutiny, and a lot of concern bordering on paranoia, about its privacy policies, particularly when they change.

For those who like the idea of sharing status updates of their lives with a circle of friends without the intrusion of ads or fear of privacy breaches that many Facebook users have, there is Neobase. Billed as the world’s first private network device, the small cylindrical home server has a 1 terabyte hard drive. As opposed to just being used for sharing files like previous products, Neobase runs Neone, a social network that doesn’t have any central hub but runs on different people’s Neobases.

Tech Accessories

Glare be gone with the Loplin Hood MacBook screen protector

There isn’t much more of a first world problem than trying to use a MacBook outdoors, or anywhere with lots of light for that matter. The screen’s sheer inability to cope with it turns what should be a portable device into a device that can only really be used indoors, unfortunately limiting its utility. The anti-glare option is available for the MacBook line, but its exorbitant price renders it optional for wanting to buy one.

WN Products Limited has figured out an effective, easy way to address the issue of extreme glare and created the Loplin Hood as a result. The product is a snap-on hood for the 13″ MacBook Air or the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro that uses the screen’s own magnets to stay connected. Weighing in at an airy 35 grams, the custom-made hood blocks aggressive light and prevents nosy types from getting a glance at the screen.

The £33 (~$52) Loplin Hood promises the possibility of outdoor usage for MacBook users while still being extremely portable, all the while not leaving any pesky air bubbles, an enticing prospect. Still, newer Mac models do offer Retina Display which really cuts down on glare anyway. Loplin Hood has an expected ship date of April 2015 should it reach its £30,000 (~$47,200) goal.


Librem 15 open source laptop keeps your digital life liberated with quality parts

Ever since revelations of spying corporate and governmental have become widespread, the tech scene has become a hotbed for the privacy issue. For the most part, though, everything is business as usual. There are choices, but they either treat privacy with the same attitudes, or don’t and offer hardware that isn’t up to snuff. Hobbyists can build their own computers, but even loose components can have shady links to the companies that made them.

The Librem 15 is letting users have their cake and eat it too. Each and every single piece of hardware is specially selected to make sure it is completely devoid of any unknown code, because the company believes in respecting the fundamental right to privacy people have. The Librem 15 combines an open source approach with high-end, quality parts. The laptop runs with the best of them, sporting a 15″ 1920×1080 screen, a 720p camera, an 8 core Intel i7, 4GB of ram, 500GB of storage, 3 USB 3.0 slots, an SDXC slot, and a CD/DVD-rom driveand it all weighs in at 4.4lbs.

Compared to products like the Novena, the Librem 15 is the pretty much the sleekest, most powerful Linux-based laptop available, and its price reflects that. But as there’s a market for high-end Apple laptops, there is sure to be one for a high-end open source laptop, too. The earliest birds can grab a base model for $1,149, while those later on can spend upwards of $1,899 for the same. Purism is looking for $250,000 in funding to have the laptop shipped by July 2015.

Tablet Accessories Technology

iSpy protects your privacy, keeps your secrets from nosy peepers

ispySome people have a sixth sense for knowing when somebody is over their shoulder, reading their incoming texts or snooping on their app usage. iSpy is a new solution that mixes both low-tech and high-tech ideas into offering users a tablet that ensures their privacy. To the naked eye, iSpy looks like a bright white screen, but with the special glasses that come with the tablet, a regular display is revealed. Additionally, a special case made of the same material as the lenses can be put around the tablet to make it suitable for sharing. While the technology here is very cool, it may have been better as an accessory for existing tablets rather than a tablet of its own. iSpy is out in December 2014 for $99 with a campaign goal of $50,000.

Home Tech Accessories

iGuardian puts a stop to suspicious data before it ever reaches your device

The Premise. When even executives of globally popular antivirus software companies are saying that antivirus technology is at a dead end, there’s a serious problem. Internet security is no less important, however, and while businesses have protection designed for their networks, home consumers ought to have a line of defense as well.

The Product. iGuardian is a device only slightly larger than a pack of gum that connects to the network before any other device and monitors the data going in and out from connected devices. Using the most recent security protocols and with the ability to be updated as necessary, iGuardian serves as an Internet doorman of sorts, keeping an eye out for threats and denying them any kind of access whatsoever. iGuardian is easier to set up than any kind of software firewall, just needing to be plugged into the same network that others are plugged into. From there, iGuardian can protect not only computers, but smart home appliances, smartphones, and any other products connected to the network.

The Pitch. Itus Networks, creator of the iGuardian, lament in their video the lack of home network security on the level of effectiveness that businesses utilize regularly. With the attitude of any engineer, Itus set out to bridge that gap and give individuals reliable digital security that doesn’t get in the way, explaining how the iGuardian works along the way. Itus needs $125,000 for software development, beta testing, and manufacturing.

The Perks. A single iGuardian can protect a home network for $129 and will be out in February 2015. Sets of 2 and 4 can be grabbed at the $280 and $500 tier levels respectively, while eager backers can get theirs as early as September 2014 thanks to a beta/prototype kit for $750.

The Potential. Network security can be a headache for a lot of reasons, especially without a computer strong enough to handle defending against attacks and running applications at the same time. Because iGuardian is a physical device that monitors data being sent and received at the point of entry, it allows for strong security, peace of mind, and simple setup without sacrificing processor power or access to favorite social media sites. The presentation is very basic and no-frills, but the freedom that iGuardian opens up is enough to brag about once the home network is free from threats of malware and data theft.

Connected Objects

Personal cloud security goes stylish with WEDG

The Premise. It’s become almost nearly impossible to function without using the cloud to share files from device to device or to other users, or just to store things in a convenient location. But cloud-based options are far from secure, and in order to keep files both private and easily accessible, a more private solution is required.

The Product. WEDG is a stylish, desktop cloud server with an upgradeable hard drive of at least 1TB. WEDG is easy to set up anywhere and begin storing and sharing files through a completely secure network managed via a proprietary app designed to bring phones to the level of security that matches the WEDG cloud. With no monthly service fees and the ability to access files from any device quickly and securely, WEDG is a must for any collaborators working together on a project whether within the same office space or on the other side of the globe.

The Pitch. WEDG’s promotional materials are like the device itself: short, attractive, and capable. With the campaign video we get a look at how WEDG came to be and what it can offer in terms of privacy and access for all users. The campaign page itself is long and in-depth, featuring all the different kinds of features and failsafe options WEDG provides as well as a history of the device’s signature and quirky design. In order to protect users everywhere, WEDG is asking for £90,000 in pledges to design the product by its own specifications, without the interference of other companies.

The Perks. A WEDG server complete with a 1TB drive starts at £149 and will be shipped out to supporters in December 2014. A white version for £199 is available, as well as an aluminum model with a 2TB drive for £249. Developers that want to push WEDG farther can get access to the device’s API and SDK at the £300 level, and beta testers can get access to new hardware models and software patches before anyone else for a pledge of £500.

The Potential. WEDG certainly isn’t the first device to offer a stable, personal cloud solution. Indeed its campaign is running concurrently with that of the Sherlybox, but the futuristic design, strong security protocols, and usage flexibility through the removable hard drive and companion app make it a stand-out among other competitors. It might not replace Dropbox or Google Drive as a simple, basic go-to option, but for those that put a premium on security and don’t want to sacrifice their web usage, WEDG looks like a great option.

Connected Objects Tech Accessories

Tego lets you plug into simple online privacy

The Premise. It seems everything done on the Internet is recorded and logged, either through malware, viruses, or even just data mining done by major websites to compile a complete profile on users to as to create more effective advertising. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that digital privacy is a serious issue going forward.

The Product. Tego is a small, simple box that plugs into any outlet and pairs up with any device on a network. From there, that device can be used to control access to other devices, from laptops to phones or anything else. Then Tego gets to work guarding files, making all web activity anonymous, and controlling who has access to what files and when. Tego basically serves as a traffic light that allows the right users and services through while stopping unauthorized or unwanted access  for good.

The Pitch. Using the tried-and-true method of the disembodied hand drawing all the graphics necessary to show off the device, Tego developer Matchupbox really drives home the importance of digital privacy and how its little box makes it all possible. Though sadly there are no demonstrations of Tego in action, the explanation makes it sound simple enough for anybody to set up confidently and quickly. More diagrams follow in the additional campaign materials, getting into the nitty-gritty of just what Tego does and why it’s necessary to use. Matchupbox needs $100,000 to finish tooling, testing, and assembly of the devices.

The Perks. The Tego system should be out to backers at the end of this year, and can be purchased for $149. A personal engraving can be made on the Tego at the $299 level, and a two-pack of Tego is available for $399.

The Potential. Computer safety and privacy is a somewhat contentious issue because for every advancement in security, there comes a push from both sides of the issue to try and break it. Both unscrupulous parties and security-minded experts determined to know just how safe something is go all in on trying to break the latest and largest lock. Tego could be another casualty in this battle but perhaps more importantly, doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the field. Private networks already exist and can be configured to suit any user’s needs, although the process of doing so can be difficult for the end user. For those that want security without learning advanced techniques, Tego is a great solution. Others may be better served with other means.