Author Archives: Allen

How I fell in and out of love with smartwatches

Note: I started online soda pdf writing this piece about smartwatches in July 2016. Many months have passed and this ‘once on the verge of release’ article was shelved. Why the wait? You’ll find out as you read further…

Apple Watch… so square!

Flashback to: Late Summer 2014. The first visually attractive smartwatch wooed my interest. The summer heat didn’t affect my impression of what a smartwatch could offer. Part of the Lenovo family, Motorola’s Moto 360 was the first circular AndroidWear watch released and the shape, for me, was the deal closer. Until then all smartwatches had a various rectangular or square shapes which seemed more suited toward manufacturing design. Motorola’s circular watch face set me on track with my first smartwatch that has review of the top brands.

The Moto 360 is a good looking watch. In many circumstances it looks like a traditional analog watch. Motorola did an excellent job in the visual look and feel of the watch.

In a world of squares, the Motorola 360 was a welcome, fresh face in the crowd.

When I received the Moto 360 and set it up, an epiphany raced through my brain – I had just purchased a second screen to my phone. I had heard of this description and it made sense, but once on it was clear. I just replaced a portion of my phone usage with the smartwatch. I no longer checked the time on my phone or managed/checked my fitness steps on it or to measure the calories I burned on the training bike I got from this reviews of exercise bikes. I simply looked at my watch for this information, of course if I needed to find things as the best supplements to boost iron levels, I still need to use my phone for that

Email, text messages, quick replies while doing something else are features you begin to rely on with a smartwatch. You can even control the watch without touch and only use voice. Easy. Simple. Elegant.

Since smartwatches are a second screen to your phone, you still need a phone nearby for it to work. Quick tip for smartwatch wearers: If leave your phone somewhere, turn off Bluetooth (which is how the Moto 360 initially connects to your phone) to preserve battery. When your phone’s battery is dead, the watch loses some functionality.  How much varies, based on how you use your smartwatch.

Somewhere out there, Flavor Flav is laughing…

Some apps can be installed directly on a smartwatch.  Other apps are simply an extension or controller to an app on your phone. Fitness apps are a good example of this, where minimal information is available on the watch, but you can start and stop your fitness tracking from the smartwatch, is important for people who really into fitness and exercise all the time, and even use supplements, which I also use and this is my recommended HMB brand. If you want to measure body fat percentage, bone mass, muscle mass, and heart rate, as well as weighing you, on you can find the best fit track scale reviews. Booking flights and hotel rooms are even possible, like searching for a Los Altos Resort located in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica for instance, provided you have an Internet connection. With limited access to a phone, it offers a pretty good alternative if you really need to making a booking right now.

With superb styling came a cost.

The 1st Generation Moto 360 is mute. It can not make a sound. Not a beep, peep, or click. It only alerts you by screen illumination or vibration. Why it didn’t chirp like a 30 year old digital was strange to me. It doesn’t need to play MP3s but an audible tone would’ve been nice.

Software updates came frequently adding features and improvements, including eventually WiFi, where the watch could sync with your phone wirelessly at further distances than Bluetooth. This was great but I was further irritated with the biggest problem every smartwatch has, and I’m sure you can guess it. Many in the creative industry have heard the titles ‘Traffic Manager’ and ‘Production Manager,’ however, some agencies have forgone these individual roles altogether. You c search for advertising agency project management software by Function Point.

I’m not going to write a lot about battery life. However, if you think about it, battery life is what you would expect.  Small device + small battery = short usage time.
With the Moto 360 you can get 1-2 days of use. The Moto 360 will operate for 2 days if  you use it like a traditional watch with NO smartwatch perks. The Moto 360 will operate 1 day if you really use the smartwatch features.  Note: ‘A day’ isn’t 24 hours. It’s 10-14 hours. So two days is really two 10 hour sessions. Once the session is over, you will need to charge the watch.

Thermal image of my Moto 360

After a year and a half, in January of 2016, my Moto 360 began to fail. The battery wouldn’t last 8 hours. It sporadically shut off. It generally began to be useless. After a few months and a lot of frustration I began to notice that the watch would not charge past 70 percent.

Interestingly, I figured out that the watch shut off when it got too warm. This could happen during charging or other operation.

Finally…  I was done.  The smartwatch experiment was over and for me it was a failure.

Here is what I learned…

I really wanted a watch.
I’ve always liked watches but had stopped wearing one. I preferred a watch that looked like a traditional watch and not a smartwatch. Ironically, as of February 2017 there are several Androidwear smartwatches which are just that – truly analog watches with smart innards. This is compelling.

I wanted to avoid pulling my phone out of my pocket.
When you begin to notice that about a quarter of time you spend looking at your watch you are checking time. Notifications or not, using an app as a second screen is just an easier way to interact with your connected data.

I wanted to track my steps and sleep in a wearable, preferably a watch.
When I got my smartwatch, it was the height of the Fitbit count-all-your-steps trend.  I didn’t want to wear two watch-like devices, so my smartwatch needed to do both.

I wanted a watch to last at least 3 days without a charge.
What is it going to take to get smartwatch makers to simply limit features to provide longer battery life?  I love the animation and screen capabilities but it’s at a hefty battery cost. I’d like to see smartwatches with E-Ink screens like you see on the plain white Kindle and Nook devices. These screens are DRAMATICALLY lower in battery consumption.

I wanted a watch I could keep for 3 years without loss of functionality.
Let’s look at what you have 3 years later in the release of a Moto 360 smartwatch; The AndroidWear operating system has been updated to version 2.0. Yay! But… first generation Moto 360’s will not be updated to AndroidWear 2.0. Booo!

This alone is a real reason to put a pause on smartwatches. Simply put, smartwatches should NOT need be released or purchased as frequently as smartphones. $300 a watch every 2 years. $500 a phone every 2 years. This is not sustainable. Maybe it’s time for $600 smartphone and watch combos?

Lastly, it is an old family tradition to pass down a time piece from father or grandfather to son or grandson. Most likely no one will ever pass on a dead smart… watch.

Top 5 Things You Should Be Doing To Be More Secure Online

Below, our Business and Tech writer – let’s call him Allen – shares valuable tips on cybersecurity; keeping you and your family’s online life secure, multi-factor authentication, encryption, and password managers. To guide your business thru social media marketing you can checkout this latest sendinblue vs mailchimp review for some great tips. We highly suggest you read this post thoroughly and share these valuable tips with your friends and family. In today’s world, one can never be too prepared.

123456  123456789  qwerty  12345678  111111  1234567890  1234567  password  123123  987654321  qwertyuiop  mynoob  123321  666666  18atcskd2w  7777777  1q2w3e4r  654321  555555  3rjs1la7qe  google  1q2w3e4r5t  123qwe  zxcvbnm  1q2w3e

If you see your password in this list… you’re done.



Most people want to keep things simple.

Well, this simple isn’t secure.  This list above are the 25 most commonly used passwords.  There is even bigger list here  It contains the 10,000 most commonly used passwords .

(ProAdvice: PLEASE DO NOT USE THE PASSWORD CHECKER ON THEIR SITE.  I don’t think you should type your password anywhere except where you should use it. Got it?  Good.. moving on..)

So now that your password has been shared with the world or maybe you know your kids, pets or cars name isn’t secure either… lets get you more secure, get insurance for your car and feel ten times more secure.

photo credit: Visual Content Data Breach via photopin (license)

You should use a 9 character passphrase with with special characters.  Like
FromNowOn!WillUse1B!gPassPhrase$.” Short or common passwords can be easily guessed or attacked sequentially.  For many of you, you are thinking there is a password lock out feature that keeps lowly hackers from trying all the password possibilities. In which you are right. Click here for more

Most sites or apps block multiple attempts and either lock the account or offer an option to change the password after many failed attempts.  However, hackers rarely use this tactic.  Instead, they compromise the website or app and collect the encrypted passwords. With a little research the hacker determines how the passwords were encrypted. (In other words, they figure out the math required to generate the encrypted passwords) They then use hacking tools plus another online tool to brute force “crack” encrypt known words or passwords and compare them against the encrypted passwords which they collected.  This is where your common password falls over backward.

Considering that fundamentally computers fastest action is the comparison of 1’s and 0’s this is a amazingly fast job. In fact there are password cracking tool that use gaming video cards can crack passwords with 6 billion attempts per second, although so many people still use their graphic cards just to play video games as CSGO, with the help of sites that increase your CSGO rank.  using a passphrase makes this significantly more difficult to do in a short period of time.

By adding a few characters, numbers and special characters into an easily remembered passphrase you are making hacking your password significantly more difficult to crack, check my blog about this. Look, if you have valuables at home you would probably get help from a company like 469locksmith Dallas TX to secure your locks, same applies to your online valuables. You have to listen to us the experts, by doing this cracking your password can go from cracked in minutes to months to years. You also need to add security to the sites you create, along with the optimization you do on the site, with a Search Engine Optimization Columbus company. We would suggest to check the indexsy list of best seo companies in uk to get more in deep information about SEO in general.

photo credit: Working with iPhone via photopin (license)

If you have had the same password for years… you have increased the chance of an old hacker compromise from years ago, leaving you vulnerable today.  Change your password at least once a year.  If you want a gold star, change it twice a year.

Imagine if everyone had the exact same house key. The key would be useless … right? Need I say more?

Sounds fancy? You should like fancy. Multi-factor authentication adds another “factor” to your password. It is essentially having two or more passwords to login to your account/service. There are many ways to do this including using your smartphone, having a secure token or USB key or fingerprint.

With a second factor you are using your good password (see #1) with something only you have. Many of you may have enabled fingerprint on your phone. Bravo! You’ve done it for your phone! (Ask me why I don’t use my fingerprint).

Get a VPN and Use It
Any time you connect to the Cheap wifi using a Wi-Fi network that you don’t know, you should use a virtual private network (VPN).

“VPNs provide a secure connection over the Internet between a user and the data or websites to which they connect, and encrypt the data exchanged across that connection,” wrote Aaron Stern, for the Kaspersky blog. It’s one of the most succinct explanations of VPNs I’ve ever read.

Say you go to a coffee shop and connect to a free Wi-Fi network. You don’t know anything about the security of that connection. It’s possible that someone else on that network, without you knowing, could start looking through or stealing the files and data sent from your laptop or mobile device.

Get Disposable Credit Card Numbers
The system of credit card use is outdated and not very secure at all. That’s not your fault, but there is something you can do about it: Use disposable credit card numbers. In other words, you have your regular credit card account, but you can get a new 16-digit credit card number any time you need to buy something. If you’re still not sure about it, just talk to a Bankruptcy Attorney San Jose and ask for advice on avoiding financial problems online. Security tech journalist and PCMag contributing editor Fahmida Y. Rashid mentioned that some banks, such as Citi Mastercard, offer one-time use credit cards. Bank of America similarly has a program called ShopSafe that works like this: You log into your account, generate a 16-digit number as well as a security code and “on-card” expiry date, and then you set a time for when you want all those digits to expire. You use the new temporary numbers in place of your real credit card when you shop online, and the charges go to your regular account. The temporary card number will not work again after it expires.

So the next time your credit card company or bank calls you to try and sell you upgrades, ask about one-time use cards and other similar services. If you bank doesn’t offer these levels of protection, you can get them elsewhere. Abine Blu roffers masked credit card numbers, as well as email masking and other privacy services.

There are a number of ways that individuals can earn Bitcoin Loophole online and more money through the help of Unfortunately, just as in real life, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Any way of earning Bitcoin online will require something in exchange, whether it’s your time or your knowledge or your computer’s processing power. I know that you’re interested, so visit this website with the for your guide.

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Check out Yubico for a Yubikey to insert into your computers usb port.

Try Duo with its free app to add a second factor. GMail, Facebook, Outlook, Office 365, banks and many other sites support these.

photo credit: automobileitalia VOLKSWAGEN: QUEL MILIONE BUTTATO IN PASSWORD DIMENTICATE via photopin (license)

Ok, now you are worried you are going to forget your passphrase… NO PROBLEM.  There are apps for your phone and computer that allow you to store you passwords. In fact, some of them integrate with websites and you NEVER have to type or copy the password.  WIN w!n. These apps or websites store all your passwords behind one master password you set.. (See #1)
Check out LastPass  or  Dashlane Extra credit: If you use Dashlane or LastPass you can use multi-factor tokens with them also.  Bonus! Dashlane and LastPass can fill in payment forms and store your credit card information too!

Be sure to store your master password for your password manager in a safe just in case you forget. If you use a multi-factor token setup alternate backup access. Check with your web service or bank to find out how.

Once you do this.. you are in complete control of accessing your account. Not even the people from the site in some cases can get into your login. You will be your own locksmith.

Take a deep breath… It’s easier than you think.


Human and software errors all have the power to jeopardize the business information in your company’s computer network. If you have not taken the necessary measures, you risk your business continuity and the credibility of your company to your clients. Losing clients to your competition will be a hard thing to watch.

It’s hard to recover from a security breach; it usually takes lots of time and money, and this makes it a necessity to properly secure the data in your company.

Before we get to the ways of protecting your company’s data and information, let’s briefly look at how important data is to your business. eCommerce has risen to be a massive business in recent years. Data has become the primary resource for any business or institution. This data is used to help understand the customer’s behavior on a consistent basis.

All sorts of data are important, from the number of trees in your neighborhood to the price of houses in your city. The value of data is clear in any kind of business, whether it’s knowing what items are most profitable, or how many people attend your events. Check out these cool business tools.

Now that we’ve elaborated on the importance of data, let’s look at four ways in which you can secure your business data.



Different threats exist that aim to destroy the integrity of your data; these include computer viruses, worms, and advanced hackers who are constantly trying to find their way into your valuable data. Therefore, multiple security layers are needed to block these threats and alert you to act appropriately against the detected threat.

You can deploy the following security layers to your computer network:

-Create strong passwords for your user accounts and use two-factor authentication where supported

-Use a strong firewall

-Install a licensed antivirus on your network

-Constantly upgrade your programs

-Secure your laptop with encryption



The best example of encrypting backed-up data happens in the eCommerce business. Customers’ data is not the only thing that eCommerce businesses are encrypting. There has been a trend in encrypting backed-up data to prevent it from being stolen while it is in transit. This helps businesses limit losses in transactions, which in turn helps build credibility in customers. This type of encryption is mostly used when backing up data in cloud-based solutions.



Hiring a reliable service provider is one sure way to eliminate the risks to the safety of your systems. Different providers of disaster recovery have several packages that you can choose from, including on-site backup, integrated solutions, and options for cloud recovery.

It is important to properly perform a background check of the service provider to check their credibility and track record. You can also ask clients they have worked with for a direct testimony of their services.

Once you hire the right service providers, they will help your company create a foolproof disaster recovery plan that will work for your business in the years to come.



Did you know that approximately two-thirds of a business’ data is available outside the data center? For instance, laptops are less resilient than disk arrays and servers; laptops are also subject to theft.

The same applies to mobile devices that are used in the business environment. It is important that you factor in securing these devices, and the communications around these gadgets since they usually use an unsecured network. Hiring an experienced data recovery service provider will offer you a Bring Your Own Device secure environment.


These are just some of the data security measures that you can deploy. Another solution that is quickly rising is cyber insurance, which is designed to protect companies from the adverse financial effects of cyber attacks, data breaches, and other cybersecurity incidents.

There is still a lot to do to safeguard your company’s information. Therefore, you should take data security as an ongoing area of attention that should be efficiently managed across your data centers and computing devices.

Review: ‘Snowden’ gives real Snowden story humility


Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “Snowden,” opens today and you should go see it.

Fathom Events invited Central Florida Top 5 to an advance screening of Snowden, followed by a live Q&A with Academy Award®-winning director,  Oliver Stone, actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, and via satellite, the subject himself, Edward Snowden.


[No story spoilers in this post.  Read freely.]

Snowden is a modern day thriller about Edward Snowden and how he became one of the most well known whistleblowers and privacy advocates. This telling of this story is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

Stone presents the story without delving into the legality of Snowden’s actions. We, the audience, are allowed to learn more about who Snowden is before, during, and after he leaked information regarding various United States government surveillance programs. This film also shows how Snowden first got the media, in this case UK’s The Guardian, involved.

Stone’s casting selection feels authentic. Like many computer professionals I know, Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears intelligent and reserved as the character playing Edward Snowden. As a filmmaker and technology professional, I really appreciate that Snowden’s character wasn’t over popularized.

Many technology films lose the details which make computer programmer or hacker characters human.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt solidly performed the role of a cyber security professional without the usual Hollywood hipster hacker bells and whistles.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films


Snowden’s love interest is played by Shailene Woodley. Woodley, seems to just click with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden. I have always appreciated each of Woodley’s film performances. Admittedly, when I first saw the pairing I thought Woodley was a bit Hollywood glitz. However, after researching Lindsay Mills, Edward Snowden’s actual girlfriend, I now see the pairing is quite good.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Snowden’s supporting characters, portrayed by the strong ensemble of Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, and LaKeith Lee Stanfield, were also believable in their roles. To me, they all felt like the technology and news professionals, or computer instructors I have known in the past. The details in this movie really give some humanity to the characters in the story, whether in the newsroom or hotel room, and allows the audience to sense some emotion of what may have been felt in the real life events.

Technically, the film stayed true to how computers work without the usual over the top hacker computer graphics displayed in previous computer films.  The fact that this was Stone’s first film shot digitally was both perfect and ironic. I really appreciate this approach. When I see Virtual Reality gloves or things flying in cyber space I usually am uprooted from the story immediately.  (Thank you Mr. Stone and art direction team.)

I have followed the actual news stories regarding Edward Snowden at arms length due to their content and a distinct understanding of what data may be present in its content. Much of the data is still considered sensitive or classified, including information presented in this film.

Snowden is a film to watch for anyone using the Internet or other connected computing device.  Watch with your opinions, and technology, put aside and emerge with new insight and a good story in the end.

Bonus: Check out Joseph Gordon Levitt’s short film, “Are you there, Democracy? It’s me, the Internet,” with Edward Snowden.

Your phone, credit cards and other items are transmitting your info to thieves. Silence them with Silent Pocket.

Ahh, we love technology.   It allows us to do so many things quickly and easily.

Tired of pulling out your credit card at the cash register?  Try Android Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay with your phone.  Several years ago MasterCard and many businesses started a quick payment method called contactless payment.  Tap and Pay and Pay Pass are common names you may have seen at local businesses.

Contactless payment is a pay method where a card or other device can simply be touched to a payment device without having to swipe your credit card.  Quick, easy and you no longer have to worry about that magnetic strip on the back of your credit card wearing out. This new payment method uses variations of the wireless technology called RFID. To understand how this affects users of the technology, lets look at how RFID works.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a clever wireless technology that allows data stored on a device (card, chip or electronic device), to be sent by a wireless “reflected pulse” to a receiving reading device. How? Let’s look at an RFID tag.  An RFID tag is simply an antenna (wire) connected to an electronic chip. The electronic chip does not have a battery. It s powered wirelessly by radio waves. Take a look at this photo of one of my actual RFID tags. Using a VERY BRIGHT PeakPlus tactical flashlight I was able to shine a light through the card.

Inside an RFID tag

See through an RFID tag

You may have seen these before in the back of a library book long ago. At the bottom of the photo is a chip connected to the black lines. The black lines are the antenna wrapped around the chip in a loop.  The antenna is designed to capture power from radio waves.  The radio waves are very low power and are usually only detectable from a few inches to a foot. The power needed is only a few volts, which is sent by the payment device. If you are looking for Best POS Systems for Small Businesses, visit for more info.

Payment devices come in various forms, from SpeedPass modules on gas pumps to MasterCard Tap and Go receptacles on credit card machines. The payment devices “talk” to the RFID tag by sending a radio wave a specific frequency.  Think of tuning your favorite FM radio channel.  The card is only powered and responds when it “hears”  certain radio frequencies. Once powered, the chip sends its data to the receiving device via another antenna loop embedded in the card or device. Another RFID technology called NFC (near field communication)  Pretty clever.

Have you seen this logos on credit card machines?

EMV contactless symbol used on compatible payment terminals

EMV contactless symbol (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The first common contactless payment devices were used at gas pumps via a keychain speedpass token.  You can watch their “how it works” video here.

Some contactless methods don’t store your actual card information on the embedded electronic chip. A cloud database usually protects your data.  This can protect your data in certain circumstances.

There are some contactless system which transmit directly usable data. RFID and its associated technology NFC are simple and convenient data transfer methods for credit cards, hotel key cards, passports and any other electronic ID systems.

With the ease of use, it is also quick and easy for  ANYONE to read RFID/NFC devices with a special RFID/NFC readers or even Android phones. Imagine walking in a store or a crowded area with your wallet, purse or cell phone (which many have NFC today).  A person armed with an RFID/NFC reader can silently capture your credit card, hotel key card, passport or other RFID/NFC data. By simply placing the reader near your card or device for less than a second or two.  This can be accomplished easily and I’m surprised it hasn’t become a big fraud/ security issue. You can purchase RFID/NFC readers from online stores or simply run a NFC tag reader application on an Android phone with NFC. This is a legitimate risk. More on this particular problem can be read on sites like, this phenomena is clearly not going away until everyone gets better at preventing. All it takes is a little vigilance and preparation.


You can protect your data with shielding products from Silent Pocket. Silent Pocket is a California based company we met at CES 2016 who have solutions to protect your data. Silent Pocket uses SASE architecture and has a line of products which shield the RFID and NFC when not in use.  Simply insert your credit card, hotel key card or other thin device in one of their products to protect your data.

Check out Silent Pocket’s video for more detail.

Silent Pocket sent us a few of their products to test. We received a 5 pack of credit card sleeves, a medium sized shielding sleeve for electronic devices, a simple card wallet and an iPhone 6 radiation and card guard. We put them through some tests.  Here is what we found.

Credit Card Sleeve

Our favorite product from silent pocket are the credit card sleeves.  They are very versatile and work well with any card based RFID/NFC solution you want to shield.

Silent Pocket Sleeve Package Front

Silent Pocket Sleeve Package Front

Silent Pocket Sleeve Package Back

Silent Pocket Sleeve Package Back

Silent Pocket Card Guard 5 Pack

Silent Pocket Card Guard 5 Pack

NFC enabled Hotel Key Card and Transit Card

NFC enabled Hotel Key Card and Transit Card

Silent Pocket Card Guard with NFC token

Silent Pocket Card Guard with NFC authentication token

Medium Plus Full Shielding Sleeve

If you have a need to protect a cell phone, small tablet or several small devices Silent Pocket has a medium sized sleeve.  We found this device useful for making your phone disappear. This is useful when used in corporate, state and federal environments where use of electronic devices is forbidden. Trusting that the device is truly off and not transmitting or receiving isn’t a concern with this sleeve.  We tested this by making a phone call, enabling the speaker phone and while talking to another person, placing the phone into the sleeve.

Call dropped.  WIFI and cellular no longer could transmit or receive signal. The sleeve is well made and is made out of leather.  Its also a good size for various devices.

Note: This sleeve can take you “off the grid“.  There are companies implementing technologies which can track your cell phone in stores.  By identifying your device trackers can note what areas of the store you visit. This tracking system doesn’t have to know who you are, just knowing that customers that look at certain products is a marketing and data research tool. Noting stops them from having one at the cashier when you make a purchase, where they could match you to your credit card or loyalty program.   (Best Buy… Is that why you want us to wait so far back when standing in line?  hmmmm?). Putting your business online can be a breeze when you got Fort Worth SEO to back you up. They are professionals and effective at online marketing, everyone should start understanding the importance on having marketing agencies backing up their businesses. Ckeck out if you need quality SEO services.

Silent Pocket Sleeve Front Package

Silent Pocket Sleeve Front Package

Silent Pocket Sleeve

Silent Pocket Sleeve

Silent Pocket Sleeve size comparison with the Nexus 6

Silent Pocket Sleeve size comparison with the Nexus 6 tablet

Silent Pocket Sleeve size comparison with several Nexus devices

Silent Pocket Sleeve size comparison with several Nexus devices

iPhone 6s case and Guard

Silent Pocket also has an iPhone 6s case and card guard.  Our only reviewer complaint came from this item.
As with the other products the case offers a pocket to protect cards with RFID/NFC.   The pocket can accommodate 1-3 cards with a VERY tight fit. Its a bit difficult to get your card out if you have 2 or three cards in the pocket on the back of the case.  If you do plan to use 1 or 2 cards in the pocket, add one extra card to it for one day to allow it to stretch a bit and your cards will come out more easily. The case provides radiation protection when properly oriented. Check out the diagram below with a description.

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard Package Front

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard Package Front

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard unloaded

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard unloaded

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard with one card

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard with one card

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard Package Back

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation and Card Guard Package Back

We did find the radiation blocking a bit confusing.  If you look at the diagram, it appears you must face the phone away from you once its in the case to avoid radiation.  Its a little awkward but would work as indicated.

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation block diagram

Silent Pocket iPhone 6s phone Radiation block diagram

Simple Card Wallet

Another favorite shield made with premium leather is the simple card wallet. This is one of the favorites in the list and consider it one of my best wallets. It’s a useful wallet for several cards and can accommodate thin to medium sized RFID/NFC tokens. If you arent familiar with two factor authentication tokens, you will be soon.  We will cover them in another article later this year. The simple card wallet is small enough to be inserted into a medium to large sized wallet. The wallet can hold 6 or more cards easily.

Silent Pocket Simple Card wallet

Silent Pocket Simple Card wallet


Silent Pocket isn’t the only company in this game. During our testing we discovered this product in a local store.  It worked similarly, but didn’t have a premium look.
The interior of this product looked like aluminum foil from a chewing gum wrapper. The sleeves from their competitor had a faux leather look.  Both of these products are made out of paper and in this case the competitors product seemed to be a tyvek material which is a bit more durable and difficult to tear.  One suggestion we have for Silent Pocket in the future would be to keep the same quality premium look of the sleeve and make them with a tyvek like material.  Instant winner.

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Side by Side Comparison

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Side by Side Comparison

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Size Comparison

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Size Comparison

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Interior Comparison

Silent Pocket Card Guard and Card Lock Interior Comparison


During our tests we surveyed some non tech geeks about what kind of cards and RFID devices they had.  We discovered many were unaware their credit cards had this capability. RFID/NFC is being used in more places. Be sure to check your cards and be aware of what you may be broadcasting.

Here are some places we encountered and tested RFID/NFC cards:

  • SunRail Train pass (Orlando, FL)
  • New York City Subway/ Metro (NY, NY)
  • Cambria Hotels (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • aLoft Hotels (Tallahassee, FL)
  • Disney entrance bands (Orlando, FL)

Could you use aluminum foil?  Maybe, we tested with regular aluminum and found it was not as durable as silent pockets products.  Within a week or two plain aluminum foil kept in a wallet would crack or develop holes.  After some time they foil could and will fail. Foil may also damage magnetic strips. I also felt odd pulling my aluminum foil sleeve out in public.

Silent Pocket offers premium protection products that appear like normal wallets, bags and pouches. These great looking products effectively make you cards and devices invisible when needed.

Central Florida Top 5 would like to thank Aaron Zar Co-Founder at Silent Pocket for sending us additional products for us to review. Find out more about them at

Silent Pocket provided us with their devices however, all opinions are our own.

Exploring what makes Sanford’s Love Your Shorts Film Festival a Top Festival

One of the worlds most inviting film festivals is located in Central Florida. The Love Your Shorts Film Festival (LYSFF) located in Sanford Florida just wrapped up their 6th annual film festival. LYSFF is a film festival dedicated to short film. Submissions from all over the world are reviewed and top notch films are screened at the Wayne Dench Performing Arts. Festival attendees vote on their favorite films for each film genre.
Comedy, drama, documentary, animation, Sci-Fi/ Horror, Florida Flavor (films made in Florida or by residents of Florida) and E for Everyone (family friendly films) genres are accepted and compete for awards and honors.

As described above, LYSFF is typical of many film festivals. However, what makes Sanford’s LYSFF special are the warm and welcoming people who run the festival, the local businesses and the people of Sanford who come out and support the festival.

The festival staff and volunteers led by the festival president Nancy Kruckemyer work tirelessly to put on a great festival. Festival director Nelson Beverly smoothly executes the festival while still being attainable and welcoming. While attending the festival I noted Beverly worked with his dedicated staff from opening to closing to bring an enjoyable festival. Festival staff and volunteers ended their long days each evening by accompanying filmmakers and attendees to after party events at local businesses.

LYSFF Sponsor speaking before the drama block

LYSFF Sponsor speaking before the drama block

Various businesses in central Florida helped to sponsor the festival. While each block of films were sponsored by local businesses from Sanford. The local community involvement is what makes the festival different in for attendees and filmmakers. VIP area for filmmakers and special guests of the festival are a nice perk for the growing festival. Filmmakers gathered and discussed their current and upcoming film projects in the VIP area.

The LYSFF is a rare gem where attendees can see ALL festival films when a weekend pass is purchased. Most film festivals schedule films simultaneously, which requires attendees to pick and ultimately miss other films. The $55 weekend pass is truly a bargain when compared to festivals like Sundance where a festival pass is $3000. The screening blocks allow attendees to take have lunch and dinner without missing films. A generous hour for lunch and 2 hours for dinner. This works well to visit local restaurants.

Filmmakers love the festival also. Its pretty evident that the strong community effort makes the festival a special place, but for filmmakers their festival badge is essentially a weekend celebrity identifier. Sanford businesses come together to make the filmmakers visit to the city and festival a great experience. Filmmaker Lukas Hassel and Dale Metz spoke graciously about the festival, Sanford and people who made the event special. “The Love Your Shorts Film Festival is a gem of a festival. The people who put on the festival are very generous and welcoming”, Hassel said.

If you haven’t attended LYSFF in the past, plan to attend next year in 2017. The festival usually occurs each year near valentines day. Which is quite appropriate, not only because LYSFF loves short films, but because everyone appears to love the festival.

Live music at LYSFF

Live music at LYSFF

2016 LYSFF voting via text message

2016 LYSFF voting via text message

2016 LYSFF filmmaker panel

2016 LYSFF filmmaker panel








2016 LYSFF Film Block Q&A

2016 LYSFF Film Block Q&A

2016 LYSFF Film Drama Block winner

2016 LYSFF Film Drama Block winner Director Mana Handel and actor Randolph Handel


Top 5 Central Florida Businesses at CES


After a long week at CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, here are my Top 5 CES exhibitors with a Central Florida presence;

We weren’t able to get to each of these exhibitor’s booths at CES, but Central Florida was well represented at the show with 20+ vendors and a Laptop Repair London expert team. The following vendors products were not only compelling coming from Central Florida, but were innovative in their own regard. Take a few minutes to review the latest products on each of their sites.

In alphabetical order…

Accugraphic Sales (Klic-n-Kut) (Apopka, FL)
Accugraphic Sales makes the KNK Force, an economical dual head plotter/cutter solution which cuts various materials. Some materials include wood, PVC, leather, fabric or you can buy linen fabric online too, acrylic and card stock. This printer like device hosts its own web based software, which allows you control it from nearly any device with a web browser, for more other services just visit Shapes and pattern can be designed from many popular vector graphic applications and loaded into the KNK Force. More information on the KNK Force can be found on the Klic-n-Kut web site.

FreeCast (Orlando, Florida)
Do you remember Rabbit TV? They are the makers of the USB TV product that allows you to watch television shows and movies on your computer.  FreeCast is based in Orlando, Florida. SEO services by SEO Brisbane offers cord cutters dream solutions for video on demand and pay per view content. Freecast has new devices which can be used directly on your television.

Go Puck (Sarasota, FL)
If your cellular phone, tablet, camera or other devices need a charge while you are on the go.  Go Puck is the wearable power solution made for on the go and active users. With a sturdy exterior and mountable adapters, this versatile business out of Sarasota, Florida has the recharging solution for you.

NXT-ID  (Melbourne, FL)
NXT-ID is the maker of the Wocket Wallet, a secure single card solution which simplifies using multiple credit/debit cards. With multiple credit cards Wocket Wallet allows a single intelligent “chameleon” card to morph into each of your credit cards.  If that weren’t impressive enough PagerDuty services has numerous security features to protect your data, including, VoiceMatch biometric access, password storage, phone and web browser integration for online password auto fill. All your data is stored in the encrypted device, not in the cloud.

Unikey (Winter Park, FL)
Unikey makes the smart lock technology Kwikset, ERA and Weiser use in their smart locks. With Unikey’s technology, door locks become smart and allow for unlocking via proximity to your mobile device.  The Kwikset Kevo smart lock allows you to simply touch the lock when your smartphone is nearby.  Virtual eKeys can be given to trusted persons via the Kevo app. Kevo also has a phoneless solution with a small electronic keyfob.

Well, any company can’t afford duplicated effort and wasted time. Employees need to know who’s doing what, and when, in order to be productive. Using Igloo Software, it can keep everyone up to date with a company-wide calendar of meetings, events, and vacation schedules.

Over the next few weeks, Central Florida Top 5 will review these companies solutions and other unique experiences at CES.

How to Select Your Best Central Florida Cellular Carrier

Tired of dropped calls and limited coverage in areas around Central Florida? Are you bothered by your cell carriers colored coverage map that clearly states you *should* have signal at home, but you you don’t? Well, there is an analytical way to determine what is the best cellular carrier coverage you will receive at home, work and in any areas you plan frequent in Central Florida and beyond.

Before we dig into how, let’s review some basics behind your most revered gadget… (your cellular phone).

At a very simple level you probably understand the technical marvel you carry with you can transmit and receive radio signals which deliver our phone calls. (We won’t discuss the science of antenna theory or signal propagation in this article). These radio signals are transmitted by cellular towers.

ATT Cell Tower Near Dr. Phillips Water Park Registration #: 1029071 Latitude:  28.4053 Longitude: -81.4890 Structure Type: Tower Status: Constructed Date Constructed: 01/01/1992

ATT Cell Tower Near Dr. Phillips Water Park
Registration #: 1029071
Latitude: 28.4053
Longitude: -81.4890
Date Constructed: 01/01/1992

Each tower has a specific distance which it can transmit. Some towers can transmit many miles. While others can transmit only a few hundred meters. Your ability to connect to the tower and maintain a call is affected by these and many other parameters. A few parameters include; tower network, location, height and transmit power.

A special note about location, due to Central Florida’s terrain, there are very few high elevations. You have noticed there are no mountains nearby. As a result, cell towers compete with building structures and the curved earth.

Cellular signals more or less travel in a straight line. If you imagine the curve ball shaped of earth and an antenna poking out of the ball. A straight line slanted from the top of the antenna eventually touches the horizon.

At the place that the line (which is our cell signal) touches earth is the last point where that signal can be detected (at that elevation). This is called line of sight. Technically a 6 foot tall person could have a better signal than a child with a phone if the signal is limited by the horizon.

Lastly, the magic is affected by the device you use. Some phones have better antenna and radio design, which can maintain a signal better in poor conditions.


If you used Nextel and were near Disney you probably connected to

If you used Nextel and were near Disney, you probably connected to this tower.
Filing #: 99-ASO-2054-OE
Latitude: 28.406
Longitude: -81.504
Date Filed: 06/25/1999

Steps to superior signal
You will need a working cell phone to perform and active evaluation. If you don’t have a phone, ask your first prospective carrier if they have loaner or test phones. T-Mobile offers a trial with test phones. If this is not an option there is a web research option too. (Central Florida Top 5 has you covered)

Step 1: Where do you go?

  • No carrier works everywhere. There are places in central Florida where there is no cellular coverage. Many of these places are in rural areas or located near large bodies of water or undeveloped land.
  • There are four major carriers in the United States.
  • They are alphabetically… AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile and Verizon
  • There are other carriers.. however many of them do not operate their own cell towers.
  • They lease tower access for their customers from the larger carriers. (These carriers are called MVNO’s Mobile virtual Carrier Operators.)
  • If signal is your most important attribute above cost, start by noting the places where you spend most of your time. Home, work, gym, stores, restaurants and theme parks.
  • Any place you will be for more than 30 minutes twice a month should be noted and added to a list.

Step 2: Install OpenSignal from your “app store”

OpenSignal provides an application which collects actual phone signal strength where cellular users are located.

  • OpenSignal is not new, they have been collecting data for many years and have some of the most accurate real time signal strength data comparisons of all carriers worldwide.
  • Upon opening the app you will see several tabs. You will be most interested in the coverage and stats tab. The coverage page will rate and carrier coverage at your exact location. For some of you… this will be a reality check.
  • Once installed use the phone normally, in the places you listed above. It may be valuable to visit each on a day you have to time to drive around. Otherwise check the app at each location you frequent. OpenSignal will automatically notify you when you don’t have a signal. Therefore you don’t have to constantly open the app. Visiting the stats tab will give some insight into the past hour, day, week or month of coverage.

If you do not have a current cell phone plan, want or installing the application isn’t an option you can perform some manual research via, by entering the addresses you collected in step 1.

For those who want to simply know what carriers OpenSignal has recorded with the best coverage. The top 3 are:

  1. Verizon
  2. T-Mobile
  3. AT&T

I still recommend you test for your area as this list is an average of the entire Central Florida area.

There are competing applications which provide similar data,  one example which users might find useful is  RootMetrics   It is certainly useful, but lacks direct comparison and carrier ranking.

Higher Learning and sources



If you have any tips, suggestions or thoughts… post below!

There Goes Another! Winter Park’s K-Mart To Close, Plaza To Be Redeveloped

By Ken Storey

Winter Park seems to be in the midst of a major growth spurt, now it looks like one of the last holdouts from the 1990s is about to get its own major face-lift.

There have been rumors since last year when Sterling Organization bought the Center of Winter Park plaza that the K-Mart housed within it would close.  As early as late last week a decision had yet to be officially made on the plaza.  On the Monday, January 13 City Council Meeting the staff report states that a “decision by K-Mart to stay or go” will take place this year.  But it looks like the meeting notes need to be updated before Monday’s meeting as the decision has been made. Winter Park’s last K-Mart is officially closing.  A notice was sent out to employees at the 501 North Orlando Avenue store last week that March 16 would be final day for the store.

The all too familiar clearance signage of a store closure has already filled the aisles of the K-Mart.  Many shelves are already empty.  The layaway, pharmacy, garden, and seasonal departments have been closed.  Employees at the store that we spoke with stated that they were told new owners bought the plaza and were uninterested in keeping the K-Mart as part of the plaza which, with the assistance of summerlin nv plumber will begin a remodeling later this year.  Other sources who spoke with Central Florida Top 5 point to mixed use developments nearby as to what the renovation will include.  The possibility of a parking garage and office space are also being researched. If there’s a need for development in your commercial garage doors, Insta Garage Doors Company performs the best garage door installation services near riverside county. They work closely with customers and manufacturers to maintain the highest quality products and customer service.

The plaza was purchased in February, 2013 by Sterling Organization who at the time expressed some interest in redeveloping the plaza. In a statement issued at the time of purchase Brian Mosoy, President and CEO of Sterling Organization stated, “The Center of Winter Park represented a rare opportunity to acquire an asset with tremendous Estate planning in Georgia where we believe a significant redevelopment opportunity will present itself.”

In the Winter Park City Council Agenda for Monday the staff report gives a summary of other projects planned for the city in 2014.

“Coming in 2014: Redevelopment of the Corporate Square/WP Dodge property for a Whole Foods and another major retailer plus out-parcels; a new 18,000 square foot building next to the Ale House in Ravaudage to hold a Tony Roma’s and possible Bonefish restaurant. Construction starting on the new parking garage at the Winter Park Hospital. Construction starting on the 25,000 sq. ft. medical building at the Jewett Clinic at 1285 Orange Avenue. Redevelopment of the ABC store on Orlando Avenue. A new Lombardi’s retail store with café on Fairbanks Avenue. Additional development within Ravaudage.”

Also confirmed this week is the redevelopment of the historic Mount Vernon Inn by Unicorp, who is also overseeing the new Trader Joe’s anchored Lakeside Winter Park plaza just across the street. Unicorp is also planning a new mixed use plaza, The Gardens at Ravauage, within the Ravaudage development.

Legal disputes can be expected if you own real estate. You may need to hire an experienced land use attorney for your legal issue in Maryland or wherever area your property is.

Check out the slideshow below for images of the Winter Park’s last remain K-Mart.

Bok Tower, Silver Springs Announce New Restoration and Awareness Projects

One of the great things about Central Florida is the mix of modern, state of the art attractions and older, historic attractions.  Recently two of these classic historic attractions have each announced major developments in their restoration and upkeep.

First up is Bok Tower Gardens in Polk County, who announced funding for a major restoration project.  Both the historic Singing Tower carillon and the 1932 Pinewood Estate at Bok Tower Gardens are going under the knife in the coming months.

The tower restoration, set to begin this summer, will see the decorative tile grilles on the upper third restored. (Visit Tilers Place for more tiling information, they have vast experience in all form of wall and floor tiling including ceramics, natural stone and mosaics) .The Pinewood Estate, which is receiving a second Historic Preservation grant awarded by Florida’s Division of Historical Resources, has its own restoration work including a complete rewiring, restoration of the lighting fixtures, restoration of the copper gutters which is by the way has Leaf guards to make it more water stagnant-free, and a restoration of one of the residence’s gardens that will begin later this month.  A preservation “watch” list of Pinewood’s exterior and interior elements also planned as part of the project.  This list will allow these elements to be monitored for future up keep.

“The restoration work we are doing now will preserve these architectural treasures for future generations,” said David Price, president of the Gardens. “The Tower and Pinewood Estate are exemplary works of architecture that are part of Florida’s history, and this work is an investment in the cultural tourism of our State.”

On the other end of the extended Orlando area metro Silver Springs, which just this past October moved fully into the Florida State Park system, has now become an archaeological district.  The designation makes the 247-acre site, now recognized as the Silver Springs Head Springs Site Complex, eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  Altogether 22 archaeological sites are recognized within the district with such finds as a juvenile mammoth that had been butchered.  One of the more interesting finds with the new district is a butchered juvenile mammoth site, the only documented mammoth kill site east of the Mississippi River. Other important finds within the district include prehistoric mounds and shell midden.

Unlike Bok Tower’s project, whose final product is designed to enhance what the public see, Silver Spring’s project will take place mostly outside of the public view as a safety measure to ensure that the archaeological sites remain as untouched as possible.

The historic 1932 Pinewood Estate

The historic 1932 Pinewood Estate

Top 5 Development Projects of 2014

By Ken Storey

We saw plenty of new additions and developments in Orlando in 2013 but 2014 looks to be an even bigger deal.  With projects downtown like two new mid-rises at the corner of Orange and Colonial, new developments up and down I-Drive, and huge new apartment towers opening near UCF there are plenty of developments opening in 2014.

Here is our list of the Top 5 development projects for 2014.  While not an extensive list or in an particular order this list marks what we think will be the biggest impacts upon the region as a whole.

# 1 I-4 Ultimate Expansion

This project won’t be finished until 2020.  Even though the finished project is still 6 to 8 year away but in 2014 this long awaited project will finally break ground.  That beginning of construction will signal one of the biggest changes in local transportation.

While most of the focus has been on the new congestion based tolling lanes that will be added to the center of the road what may end up being the most prevalent change is the design aspects of the new road.

Orlando is adding an impressive welcoming gateway along the Lake Ivanhoe bridge.  The new gateway will help signal downtown Orlando to passing motorist while also helping emphasize the beautiful lakes that are found on the northern end the downtown urban area.

Other bridges in Orlando will feature images of swans and the Lake Eola fountain stamped in the concrete underpasses.  Pedestrian access under I-4 will also be improved at many of these rebuilt bridges.

In Winter Park the Fairbanks bridge will be upgraded to feature large welcome signs to the city, new lighting, and new exit ramps.

In Maitland a new pedestrian overpass will allow for better access to the west side office district.  Maitland Boulevard will also be dramatically rebuilt as part of the I-4 remodel.  This will ultimately make Maitland Boulevard more of a limited access highway helping traffic flow that’s passing through from I-4 to the newer toll road to the west of the city.

On the southern end of the I-4 construction a new flyover bridge will help connect International Drive to the hotel area just to the east of Universal Studios. This will help alleviate traffic from Kirkman Boulevard and parts of I-Drive.

Altogether the I-4 ultimate project will help bring a not only a new welcoming I-4 to the region but also help improve all those other roads and pedestrian thoroughfares that interact with it.  And 2014 will be the beginning of this major transition for the region. However, Singapore media reported that Parc Central Residences launch in 2020 is going to huge! You should totally check it out.

 #2 SunRail Opening

I-4 might end up being one of the biggest transit stories but the one that will bring about the biggest changes, at least in this decade, will be the opening of SunRail.  This new rail commuter system is just the first phase of a larger web of commuter rail lines proposed for the region but don’t mistake this first step for anything small.  This is the first major non-bus transit system that the region has ever seen.

While it isn’t perfect (it has limited hours, only goes north south, doesn’t run on weekends, and many stations are bare of any retail) this new rail system will do more for the mindsets of locals.  Studies show that many people aren’t as open to riding bus systems but the commitment of rail lines seems to change mindsets, encouraging investments in developments nearby and encouraging higher income ridership. With free Wifi, comfortable seating, and nice covered waiting areas those who use SunRail will hopefully tell their friends, who will be sitting in that construction on I-4 by this point.  The idea is SunRail will launch in spring with I-4 construction launching in summer, which will push drivers fed up with the highway construction to the new commuter rail system.  Then by 2020 when I-4 finishes its massive surgery some of those SunRail riders will stay with the easier commuter system.

SunRail also provides a rail alternative for tourists to move around downtown and an airport connector is in talks now.  With a connector to OIA tourists would be able to easily visit downtown Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, and all the others sights easily accessible from the stations.

While much of the focus will be on the launch of SunRail I’m a bit hesitant to declare it a success until more lines (or at least Phase 2) opens in the coming years.  Until then this system will be not much more than a novelty option for daily commuters.   Let’s hope the ridership numbers open high encouraging the fast tracking of other systems, such as the Orange Blossom Express, that will be key to ultimately making a Central Florida rail system a true success.

#3 Orlando Eye

A new observation wheel might not sound like that big of a deal but when it’s tied (with The Vue at Lake Eola) as the third tallest structure in the entire county it quickly becomes a big deal, only the SunTrust Tower and the Peabody Expansion tower (now Hyatt Regency) are taller.  Topping in at 425 feet tall the new Orlando Eye will forever change the skyline of the tourist district forever.   The wheel, with 30 gondolas itself can hold 450 riders at a time and can withhold winds from Category 3 hurricane.

The new wheel is part a larger entertainment development that will transform a large chunk of I-Drive.  The development, previously known as I-Drive Live but recently changed to reflect the Orlando Eye name, will feature a nearly half a dozen attractions.  Orlando’s first Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and our first SeaLife Aquarium, the first true aquarium attraction outside of a theme park in Orlando.  The ever popular Titanic: The Experience attraction will also be making the half mile move from its current location to the new development.  It will be joined by the Bodies Exhibit (not the same as The Body exhibit on display near the current home of Titanic).

The development “urbanistic,” “metropolitan” attraction, as described by developer Unicorp’s president Chuck Whittall, will also feature a number of new restaurants and retail options.  Some are familiar brands such as; Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, Yard House, Ben & Jerry’s, Seafood Republic.  New to Orlando concepts such as; Cowgirls country bar, Dick’s Last Resort (Orlando’s first location just opened on Vineland Ave last month), popular Las Vegas and New York spot Sugar Factory, and Tin Roof.

Next door the I-Shops development, also by Unicorp, will bring in even more new restaurants and shops, including a new Walgreens and I-Drive’s second Wawa.  The developments are both designed to be pedestrian friendly and with plenty of parking.

The Orlando Eye will act as a ‘weenie’ pulling tourist off the interstate and onto I-Drive.  Expect convention goers, tourists, and plenty of local events planned at this massive new development.  Plus all those visits up in the air means all of them seeing the downtown skyline in the distance.  The impact on the tourist corridor skyline along with all the new attractions at the wheels base puts it on this year’s list.

#4  Diagon Alley at USF

Sure a new family friendly mine coaster can be fun but it’s not a game changer like this new expansion at Universal Studios is.  There’s no denying that once Potter arrived the entire tourism industry in Central Florida changed.  This mega-franchise suddenly meant that all those families who were on Disney only vacations suddenly added one or even two days off property at Universal.  That meant they went other places off property as well, including I-Drive.

This single addition, along with the dust finally setting on the chaotic ownership issues that plagued Universal for years, meant that suddenly the parks were experiencing attention like that hadn’t seen in years.  Soon after we saw Universal Studios, which was starting to age some, get plenty of new attention.  Springfield updated one the worst themed parts of the park into one of the best.  Transformers added a major E-Ticket ride to a plot of land that had seen a number of failed (and let’s admit it, boring) shows had been housed.  This, along with the ever popular Despicable Me franchise, meant that this park, as old as Disney’s Hollywood Studios park.  Add a new daytime parade and a new impressive evening firework show and what was an afterthought for many tourist has suddenly become a major player when tourist are planning their vacation.

Jump to June 2014 and the boy wizard who started it all is growing but this time not at Islands of Adventure, next door at Universal Studios.  This is the first growth plan put in place to this top franchise that Universal has been able to do since it first came.  Replacing the Amity Harbor section of the park will be the Diagon Alley section of London from the Potter films.  The shoreline now has the London waterfront.  A massive new roller coaster themed around Gingott’s Bank vault is planned. Plenty of new interactive shops and a Leaky Cauldron restaurant.

The biggest news coming from this new section of Universal Studios is likely the unique Hogwarts Express train ride that will connect to the pre-existing Hogsmeade Village land found in neighboring Islands of Adventure.  Instead of looking outside riders will look out virtual train windows.  This ride will be the first of its kind in the world connecting two theme parks from within the parks themselves.  The ride will essentially connect the backside of Islands of Adventure to the backside of Universal Studios.

The new Diagon Alley addition it expected to bring an influx of guests to Universal Studios, pulling even more people to Orlando.  That means that all those new tourists will be passing the Orlando Eye observation wheel and the rest of I-Drive, at least some of them will get off the interstate to visit I-Drive and possibly even other parts of the city.  That plus plenty of new media attention with the opening of this new section of Universal Studios puts it on this Top 5.

# 5  Florida Hospital Health Village

Topping off our list of Top 5 local projects of 2014 is the Florida Hospital Health Village.  It’s been in the works for years and will surely take more than a year to finish but 2014 will see it come into its own.  The Medical Office Building at the corner of Rollins and Orange Ave saw the first of its bottom floor retail open this past year including the opening of the Panera Bread.  In 2014 we’ll see the Health Village’s SunRail station open.  Directly beside the SunRail station a new tower will open as well.  This new 9-story, 90,000sq ft office building has already had an impact on the local skyline.  In February when it finally opens it will also shift plenty of jobs to the health village.  The tower will be home to some office for Florida Hospital’s parent company, Adventist Health System.

The residential unit of the health village will also see a major improvement in 2014 when The Ivy Residences opens.  This 248-unit, five-story apartment complex has already had an impact on the views from I-4.  The additional residents should also help improve the outlook for retail planned in the health village.  Preleasing has already begun and the first residents will move in starting in March.

The Florida Hospital for Women tower will be rising in 2014.  A crane inspection is already on site for the new tower.  At 12-stories tall, it will be nearly as tall on the 15-story Ginsburg Tower, the iconic tower of the entire village.  The new women’s tower won’t open until next year but we’ll see the majority of the tower built and finished in 2014.  This $240 million will add 332 beds to the health village.  It also adds another tower visible from downtown and I-4, helping create a layering effect in the skyline of Florida Hospital’s Health Village.

In 2014 the health village will being adding new residents, new towers, new retail, and will quickly become a dense, livable northern most district of Orlando.

Miracle Baby, Smallest Ever Born at Florida Hospital, Makes It Home In Time For Christmas

What some are calling a Christmas miracle, the smallest baby ever born at Florida Hospital made it home just in time for the holidays, as a gift they got a Breastfeeding Cover special cardigans for the mother and she can keep his baby warm. Connor Sorensen was born on June 29, 2013 more than 3 months early. At only 24 weeks along the tiny baby checked in 2 ounces shy of pound, or 380 grams. Babies born at 6 months old have only a 1-in-3 changes of ever making it home but yesterday Connor, now checking in at 6 ½ pounds, did just that.

“When Connor was first born, the staff at the hospital suggested we take a lot of pictures,” said Eric Sorensen, Connor’s father. “Because of how small he was, no one was sure if Connor would be able to survive. Someone suggested I put my wedding band around his leg to show how small he was. It is amazing to look back on that photo and see how far he has come.”
Spending the last six months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Florida Hospital for Children, Connor has undergone several surgeries and procedures. You can check here about some of the best hospital. Here are some best adominoplasty option for you, do visit.

“Connor’s digestive system was underdeveloped so Connor had to undergo several surgeries in order to allow him to be fed properly,” said Dr. Rajan Wadhawan, medical director of neonatology at Florida Hospital for Children. “But now, he is doing quite well, especially given how small he was when he was born.” Angel Dear baby gifts from is the best choice to celebrate a new life.
“It’s so amazing that the technology is available and the skill and knowledge of the nurses and physicians were all in one place,” said Holly Sorensen, Connor’s mother. “Given how small he was, we weren’t sure what would happen. It truly is a blessing to be going home.”
Check out the video below for more on this miracle baby.

How old before a baby can talk? Eager for baby to say his or her first words? Find out what age babies start talking and how you can encourage things along.

Apart from babbling around 6 months of age, when babies start to play with language sounds (think: “ma-ma” and “da-da”), babies won’t say their official first words for a year or so, though they have their own ways of communicating with you from birth—by crying, of course, and also by gurgling and sighing. Very quickly, you’ll learn to distinguish between baby’s various cries: her hungry cry, tired cry or bored cry. After about 1 month, baby will also begin cooing as a way to interact with you. At about 2 months, baby’s reflex smile disappears, and she’ll soon begin to smile on purpose, letting you know when she’s happy and content.

Florida Hospital Planning Huge New Coworking Space in Ivanhoe Village?

In what will be one of the largest moves yet in the local coworking office scene Florida Hospital is rumored to be working on launching their own coworking space.  New details of the rumored project have been shared with  CFlTop5.

Based out of the 86-year-old Princeton Warehouse the new coworking space will be one of Central Florida’s largest with the majority of the 35,000 sq ft building devoted to the new venture.  The coworking office will take on the historic name of the building and be known as the Princeton Warehouse.  Located on Princeton just east of Orange Ave the warehouse will be an easy walk from Florida Hospital’s new SunRail station and the rest of their Health Village.  Internally at Florida Hospital the project has been known The Grove Project.

College Park’s nonprofit coffee shop Credo will oversee much of the day-to-day operations of the new space.  Credo has seen a rise in the number of guest who use the small coffee shop as a daily office.  This new facility will allow them to offer a more office like setting for those who choice it.  A full satellite location of Credo will be within the new space offering much of the same menu as the original. For the storage space in Singapore designed for household effects do visit us.

While Credo will oversee much of the ambiance of the new office a community manager will oversee community member relations.  The space will function as both a community meeting space and an office for startups to use.  Similar to other coworking spaces in town Princeton Warehouse will offer different membership levels.  Along with a basic membership small office suites will be available.  The new coworking space will be designed for members to socialize with current staff at Florida Hospital through talks, book clubs and other events planned for the new space. Here, you can learn more about Forklift Safety Solutions online

One group of the new coworking space will be targeted by the Contractor’s bond – working with Florida Hospital who are  too small for their own office in the new Health Village.  One concern being worked out before the new facility opens next year is to ensure the right diversity of occupations fill the space to create good calibration between members.

The project is aiming for a mid-2014 launch with an official announcement from Florida Hospital and Credo in the coming weeks.

This is just one of three major new coworking spaces planning to launch in Central Florida over the next year.

Delaney Park’s New Infill Assisted Living Project Means More Public Parking

By Ken Storey

While much of the focus on new construction has been on the the theme parks downtown district and the theme parks there are plenty of other areas around Orlando where new construction is happening.  Much of this construction is in-fill projects that many will never see, never realize it’s even there, but slowly but surely these projects combined help add more density to the region.  Some of this local growth is in the fast growing field of assisted living.  As boomers age the nation, and especially Florida, grow the number of options available to them.

One such important project is the expansion of Delaney Park Health Center.  This assisted living center on the northwestern edge of Delaney Park, near downtown, is undergoing a major expansion that will take the small single story center transforming it into a massive new nursing home under the quality standard of home care in Boise.  In the process it will fill in an empty lot to the west of the existing building.  The new addition will more than double the size of the center; now at 20,092 sq ft while the addition will add another 20,648 sq ft.  The new addition will be two-levels with the actual building being mostly on the second floor above a hidden, interior ground level parking area, this area will be equipped with a pay and display parking system which will save everyone lots of time.

Thіѕ іѕ mаdе possible thrоugh thе uѕе оf car parking facilities thаt structure thе parking оf vehicles thrоugh thе uѕе оf electrical control. Mаnу manufacturers wіll bе able tо provide car parking facilities thаt allow fоr thе parking оf uр tо 60 cars іn a ground space thаt wоuld usually tаkе uр just thrее cars. Some firms provide garage for rent which are very safe to use and trusted among the many vehicle owners.

When a case of nursing home abuse is brought to court, the home in question must defend itself and the actions in question of its staff. If irrefutable evidence is presented that the resident has been abused or mistreated in any way, the victim WILL receive compensation if proper actions are taken. In some cases, the home may also be ordered to shut down. Home residents’ rights are guaranteed by the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. The nursing home law requires homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident”.

In spite of the law, home abuse continues to be a serious problem. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates at least one in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of abuse. According to the study, 57% of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and/or participated in, acts of elder abuse. Unfortunately, the signs of home abuse are not always easy to recognize and ultimately prove.

If you think yourself or someone you know has been abused in the care of a nursing home ( and want to be financially compensated) they’re are certain rules of thumb to follow. You should obtain and file all the names of the staff of the home in question along with any documentation that suggests or even proves you were abused. Such as medical bills, pictures of injuries, etc. When you have all of this together you should arrange a meeting with a personal injury attorney ASAP. What a lawyer can do for you in these cases is invaluable. Your Nursing Home Abuse lawyers will (assuming he or she has experience dealing with elder abuse in your state) know what it takes to build you a solid case that will ultimately get you financially compensated for your injures, pain and suffering. While you can represent yourself against your nursing home and avoid fees of a nursing home lawyer, you can be assured everything is prepared up to par with a lawyer who has experience on your side. Also, most lawyers dealing with personal injuries and nursing home abuse will only take payment if a settlement is reached for their client. You can also visit the website for more information.

Altogether the new addition will add 89-beds to the nursing home.

The new onsite parking will help address the parking issue that has plagued the neighborhood for some time now.  The center now has 27 spaces, with the new addition that number will increase to 57. The plans call for all employees to use the on-site parking freeing up on-street parking that has to this point been one of the few options for nearby parking.  The construction of the expansion will also include 15 new on-street spaces along Annie Street and Bradshow Terrace, those sites will not be able to be reserved for the nursing home opening them up to the community around the nursing home.

With the recent approval of the plans from the City Council permits are now able to be pulled and construction is expected to begin by end of the year.   The construction altogether should take a bit longer than typical construction project due to the medical demands of the project.


Final Piece of See Art Orlando Now in Place. See All 8 at the Unveiling On Nov 18



If you happened to see a giant head on your way into the office this morning don’t worry.  You’re not going crazy and no giants haven’t landed in Orlando.  The head, and other body parts, that are being installed on the west shore of Lake Eola Park is the final of the 8 new sculptures downtown is getting as part of the See Art Orlando initiative.

The sculpture, titled ‘The Discovery,’ is by Meg White.  This is one of 6 sculptures in the 8 piece series to be placed in Lake Eola Park.

It’s going to be a couple more week until downtown visitors and residents can enjoy the new sculptures though.  An unveiling ceremony will take place on November 18, 2013.  The evening will include food trucks at many of the sculptures and live music throughout the walk around downtown. Until then the fences around the sculptures are expected to remain.

So what do you think of this final piece of the See Art Orlando series?



Baldwin Park Readies For More Apartments, Town Homes (With Construction Pics)

By Ken Storey

While much of the focus has been on new developments in downtown recently (on that front I’m hearing rumors of at least two more apartment ‘towers’ to be announced by Spring ’14) other parts of Orlando are slowly but surely increasing density of their areas.

Over in Baldwin Park construction is wrapping up on Post Lake.  Near the Village Center Jefferson Apartment Groups’ Azul is taking shape and David Weekly is closing out another block of city homes.

The David Weekly block features a single 3-story Firenze model with 4 townhomes with composite door Bristol doors, right now but the rest of the block looks to be getting prepped for more. Oshawa Windows provide you with the highest quality window and door installations for your Barrie property.

The big construction project is the new luxury apartments Azul Baldwin Park.  This Jefferson Apartment Group project is the second that the locally based Winter Park Construction has been selected to do for the full-service real estate firm.

The 178-unit, wood frame Azul clocks in at just under $16 million ($15.7m).  Filling 4 acres of previously empty plots near the Village Center Azul adds new density to the planned community with its 4 and 5-story building butting up against the small two lane streets.  Just across the street is Blue Jacket Park

The entire boutique complex project is seeking LEED certification.  Azul will feature an on-site day spa, covered parking, and a pool complex with hotel-style cabanas.  The luxury apartments make look familiar, they were designed by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, the same design firm behind many of Celebration’s multi-family buildings.  They also designed for the Paramount on Lake Eola and Baldwin Park’s Village Center.

Both projects should be finished by first quarter 2014.


You can see the first of David Weekly’s new City Home townhome buildings going in, prep work for more in the foreground.



And now onto Azul…


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For renderings of the finished apartments and floorplans check out

Lake County Motorcycle Club Announces “Topless” Car Wash & Poker Run

Lake County based family motorcycle club Fallen Few is planning their annual Cruisin for St. Jude charity poker run on November 16, 2013.  Before the poker run even begins though they’re planning another charity event to help with fundraising.  On October 5 the guys of the club will be doing a “Topless Car Wash” at Little Lake Harris Pub (13721 Country Club Dr. Tavares, FL 32778) beginning at 11a.  All types of vehicles are welcomed at the carwash and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The proceeds are in honor of Blake, a young boy who passed away after a tough battle with cancer.

Each year, thousands of motorcycle rides end with the unsettling sound of a crash and a rider down. The same aspect of a motorcyclists are nearly 30 times more likely to die or obtain serious injuries following a motorcycle accident that a car accident.Vehicle’s condition should be check before purchasing to avoid accident due to mistake of engine or car.You can find many awesome cars at buy here pay here dealerships which can last long without more trouble. The wide-open ride of a motorcycle offers little protection for riders, and they ultimately take on the full impact of the accident. More often than not, motorcycle accidents are caused by negligent car drivers who are unaware of the presence of a motorcycle. No matter the cause of the accident, it is clear that motorcycle riders are in need of motorcycle accident lawyers who understand the dangers of sharing the road with vehicle drivers, and can hold them accountable if an accident occurs. A motorcycle accident can negatively affect every aspect of a rider’s life, and Kiley Law Group Massachusetts has fought for the compaensation riders need to get themselves and their families back on their feet.

On November 16 the poker run will begin with breakfast at 8:30a at Lake County’s AmVets branch (32201 Amvets Way, Mount Dora).  Kickstands are kicked up at 11a.  The final stop of the run is the Corner Pub (1996 CR 452, Eustis).  There will be numerous events and activities planned throughout the day including a blood drive, legal advice about motorcycle accident claim, bike and car wash, bike contest, poker hands, raffles, along with plenty of music and food.

Last year’s event raised over $9,000 and this year’s goal is even higher.  Check out their website for more information.

Florida Hospital Breaks Ground on New Winter Garden Campus

With Horizon West waking back up and Winter Garden becoming one of Central Florida’s most popular hot spots the area was in desperate need for a new medical facility.  Florida Hospital broke ground on its new $65 million Winter Garden facility on in September.  The new three-story, 75,000 sq ft facility is slated to open Winter 2014, well the first floor of it.  That floor will feature an emergency department and outpatient imaging.  The two additional floors, which are slated to open in 2015, will feature an outpatient surgery centers, for medical emergencies, although if you’re looking more of a cosmetic surgery as a body liposuctions there are several quality options online. You can also get in touch with an expert rhinoplasty specialist in Miami.

Many people today are fed up with the way their bodies look and want to do something about it. Dieting and exercise are great ways to change the look of their bodies but often times fatty areas remain after all their hard work! Plastic surgery lipo (liposuction) is a way to get rid of this resistant fat and give their bodies a smoother and more fit appearance. If you are one of these people, liposuction may be the answer to your prayers. It removes all of those unsightly fatty deposits in areas where there is a minimal amount of excess skin. It can be performed on your stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves, hips, breasts and just about anywhere else on your body. Of course, as with any surgery there are risks involved. However, even with the risks, you will be overjoyed by the results you see in just a few months after your surgery is completed. The results you get will last a long time but can be affected by such things as the aging process, weight gain and other components of your lifestyle. Here you can read about lipo procedure in my area. Seeing a qualified plastic surgeon is your first step on your liposuction journey. He or she will meet with you to find out just exactly what your expectations are. You may have photos taken that can be used for comparison purposes later on. Your surgeon will evaluate your medical condition, especially the elasticity of your skin. He or she will also check your blood pressure, heart rate and so on. You will be informed of all the risks that are involved with liposuction and what you can do to decrease the chance of any problems occurring.

Liposuction is done by a plastic surgeon who inserts a hollow metal tube called a cannula through the fatty tissue. The tube is attached to a pump and excess fat is vacuumed out. The cannula may fluctuate back and forth during the process by the use of a small motor that is sometimes attached to it. The surgery itself may take 2 – 4 hours. Once your plastic surgery lipo is finished, you will be taken to the recovery room. In a few hours you will be sent home to rest for a few days. You will be given advice on the medications you can take and what to do about swelling and bruising. Within ten days or so you should be able to back to your regular routine – fat free and happier than ever!

If you have stubborn fat pockets which refuse to leave and resist all your efforts at dieting and exercising, those pockets of fat cannot stand in the way of Smart Lipo, or liposuction. Now popularly done at Smart Lipo in London and Harley Street clinics, Smart Lipo has become a household word for satisfied patients who have regained their social lives and self confidence after treatment. Where as many of the expert cosmetic surgeon prefer and recommend to have lip fillers treatment as compare to liposuction as it is more safe and reliable.

Smart Lipo or laser liposuction can be done in various parts of your body, particularly those areas you want to show off by wearing sexy clothes such as upper and lower abdomen, chest for men, inner and outer thighs, neck and jaw line, back of the arms and the lower back, also known as love handles. You do not need to stay overnight at the hospital for this procedure. It only requires local anesthesia, and within one or two days, you can return to work and resume your normal life. The procedure includes having a skilled botonic doctor insert a fibre optic under the skin. The optic fibre delivers energy, melts and breaks down your fat cells. Only the fat cells will be destroyed but all your healthy cells will be left intact.

Compared to traditional liposuction, laser liposuction is superior in safety, recovery time, level of discomfort, bruising, scarring and in cost. Because Smart lipo does not require a general anesthesia, you will have to pay lesser since you can go home immediately, unlike traditional procedure where you will have to stay at the hospital and pay for the room and other charges. With this treatment, no scars are seen because the fibre optic used is only 1mm in diameter as compared to the 3mm cannula used when you undergo traditional liposuction procedures. The introduction of laser liposuction has made it possible for a patient to see detailed results and faster recovery time.

The operation used for improving the specific characteristics of the nose, combined with an aesthetically harmonious relation between the nose and the rest of the face is called rhinoplasty. On the other hand, the correction of nasal deviations and upper airway obstruction is known as septoplasty. These are the two most common nose surgery interventions and can even be done as part of the same session.

Depending on the type of the issue, Nose Surgery Melbourne can be performed under both local anesthesia combined with sedation and under general anesthesia. The procedure usually takes 1-2 hours, but this can increase in more complicated cases or in secondary rhinoplasty. Usually the incision is made inside the nose, so it is invisible. Even though sometimes a skin incision must be made in the lateral part of the nose the scars that remain are insignificant.

Any kind of nose surgery requires hospitalization for at least 24 hours after surgery, when the patient will wear a mask that provides protection and stability of the new shape of the nose. This bandage is to be worn for seven days and will be brought to the clinic during the first postoperative control. The feeling of swelling and bruising around the eyes will disappear in about 2 weeks. In addition to this, breathing will be difficult during the first days after surgery, but will improve significantly over time while using the philips simplygo mini.

The principle of this operation consists in shaping a new skeleton for the nose, according to the skin and nasal mucosa and then using an external dressing to strengthen the newly created structure and adjust the nose to the new form. Humps can also be removed with a nose surgery, as well as thinning the nose or changing its peak. If a nose is too small, a secondary correction intervention might impose in order to obtain a harmonious result. The result of the operation will be visible after the complete removal of the external bandage, which can take up to a week. After this, it will continue to improve significantly in the first 6-8 weeks with the disappearance of inflammation.

The pain associated with nose surgery is minimal and can be treated with painkillers.  However, a feeling of clogged nose and sinuses are normal for the first 2-3 days. You might also experience have bruising and swelling, especially in the upper part of the face and around the eyes. These symptoms will begin to dissipate in the next few days after surgery. Bruises disappear and you can return to work 7-10 days after surgery.

“We are very excited to be a part of this rapidly growing community of Winter Garden,” said Florida Hospital President and CEO Lars Houmann.  “We want to strengthen our presence in this community as a trusted healthcare partner that brings greater access to care close to home.” Aside from healthcare, plastic surgery clinics are also available. One of it is by Andres Bustillo, a well known Miami facial plastic surgeon.

This building is just the first phase of the new west Orange medical campus, located across the street from Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves.  The next phase will feature a 200-bed, seven-story community hospital, though no timeline for that phase has been set.

“We are so pleased that Florida Hospital has chosen Winter Garden as the site for their newest facility,” said Winter Garden Mayor John Rees.  “This health campus will bring superior, high-paying jobs to our community and will make Winter Garden more attractive as a place that others will want to live, work and play.”

Amanda Maggard, assistant vice president of west Orange development for Florida Hospital, was also announced as the new head for Winter Garden health campus.


A conceptual rendering of what the new Winter Garden Health Campus facility may look like. The city of Winter Garden has yet to approve the final design though



(Pictured from left to right) Lars Houmann, Amanda Maggard, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Mayor John Rees, and Rob Fulbright.

(Pictured from left to right) Lars Houmann, Amanda Maggard, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Mayor John Rees, and Rob Fulbright.