Tag Archives: technology

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 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.

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 proxy card or other ID represents your credit card data.  This can protect your data in some circumstances. However, 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.

Solution?

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 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.

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 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

Competition?

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

Conclusion:

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 http://silent-pocket.com/.

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

Maker Faire Orlando

Maker Faire Orlando is an annual community-organized, family-friendly celebration featuring local do-it-yourself science and technology, art, rockets, robots, crafts, music, hands-on-activities, and more. With over 250 exhibits, workshops, food trucks, and more, Maker Faire Orlando is a place where people show what they are making and share what they are learning.

The individuals behind these exhibits are known as “Makers” and they range from tech-enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. Makers are of all ages and come from many backgrounds. They all share a love for innovation and creativity, as well as an educational spirit to inspire and encourage new Makers.

Maker Faire Orlando features displays and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft.

We Want to Send You to Maker Faire Orlando!

Maker Faire Orlando defines a Maker as “We are parents, students, scientists and garage tinkerers. We are young and old and we share a love for innovation, creativity and inspiring others to make something – anything – as long as it makes people happy.” In short, we are ALL Makers!

Here, people can show off what they are making and share everything they’re learning,” said Candy Cole, President and co-founder of The Maker Effect Foundation. “Our continued expansion will allow even more makers to participate, and others in the community to see and learn from the incredible talents of our neighbors.

The event is even BIGGER this year as the DIY fun expands across Loch Haven Park and over into the Orlando Museum of Art! Via the 2015 press release;

The partnership with the Orlando Museum of Art is a result of the growth of Central Florida’s Maker community. In 2014, Maker Faire Orlando received “featured” status and promotional support from the originator and licensor of Maker Faire events, Maker Media, and expanded to a two-day extravaganza. Maker Faire Orlando is fueled by the local arts community with DIY enthusiasts and families taking part in a celebration of technology, science, arts, crafts, engineering, education, sustainability and much more. 

Thanks to our friends at Maker Faire Orlando, we will be sending four (4) people to experience all 300+ exhibitions of Makertasticness this weekend at Orlando Science Center!

Send an email before 11:59pm EST tonight to info@centralfloridatop5.com, telling us what kind of maker you are and why we should send you to Maker Faire! The top two entries will win a pair of tickets and be featured on our Facebook Page!

ProTip: Never been to Maker Faire Orlando? Check out the Full Event Schedule or download the super handy app (Android | iOS) to plan your day.

Already purchased tickets online? Great! We will see you there! Oh, and if you end up winning the Deltamaker 3D printer, can we come over and play?

And… Did we mention the Custom Cookie Contraption? or the 3D CHOCOLATE PRINTER?!

Here are our Maker Faire Orlando MUST dos (Click on links for scheduling and more info):

The World’s LARGEST (playable) Arcade Game! (15 feet tall)

factur.org

Maker Doug Brown, owner of Factor Labs in Orlando

Learn to Solder and Make a Makey!

20140909_162617-MOTION

FamiLab.org

 

Learn screen printing and MAKE your own t-shirt!

merchmakr.com

Bring your own t-shirt or buy one (while supplies last)!

REALLY cool, LEGO Micro Maker Faire displays by GFLUG!

BxhwreNIQAAw4FJ.jpg-large 20140914_162627_743

 

DOG POWERED ROBOT LABS!

20140913_124033_578

 

Nerdy Derby Recycled Racers!

Orlando Maker Faire Nerdy Derby

 

ABOUT MAKER FAIRE ORLANDO

Maker Faire Orlando began in 2012 as a family friendly showcase of DIY science, art, technology, and hands-on activities. Independent crafters to scientists can share what they are making and learning. Featured at the Orlando Science Center and the Orlando Museum of Art, the event is part of the original Maker Faire held in San Mateo, CA and now also in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and other cities around the world. In all, there are 120 independently organized Mini Maker Faires worldwide.

ABOUT THE MAKER EFFECT FOUNDATION

 The Maker Effect Foundation exists to activate and amplify the efforts of makers as they learn, build and work together in their communities. Their efforts include research, publication, community organization, event production, and startup advisement. The foundation’s community organization and startup efforts are focused on Central Florida, however our research and publication efforts are not limited in scope. The Maker Effect Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity

ABOUT ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER

Located in Orlando, Fla., interactive learning and discovery await within the Science Center’s hundreds of exhibits, programs, labs, films and planetarium shows. The Science Center provides educational opportunities both within and outside its walls including field trips, family science nights at schools and community centers, and other outreach.

Orlando Science Center’s mission is to inspire science learning for life. The Science Center strives to create lasting impacts on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and develop the next generation of creative innovators. Fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Science Center ranks as one of the most popular museum destinations in the region. Having served more than 12 million people since its inception in 1955, the Science Center offers rich resources for lifelong learning. 


ABOUT ORLANDO MUSEUM OF ART

Founded in 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art is a 501(c)(3) educational institution whose mission reflects the continued growth of Florida, ardent community support for the arts, and the Museum’s role as a leading cultural institution in the region. Since its inception, the Orlando Museum of Art’s purpose has been to enrich the cultural life of Florida by providing excellence in the visual arts. To meet this objective, the Museum has dedicated itself to collecting, preserving, and interpreting notable works of art; to presenting exhibitions of local, regional, national and international significance; to develop first-rate educational programs; and to presenting creative and inclusive programs to reach every segment of a diverse community.

UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy Ranked No. 2

Do we hear a GO KNIGHTS!?

The Princeton Review and PC Gamer magazine have ranked The University of Central Florida’s video game graduate school at No. 2 in North America for the second consecutive year. This is the fifth time The Princeton Review has ranked graduate-level video game development schools, placing UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy – or FIEA – behind only the University of Utah for 2015. The school has been ranked in the top five every year since the rankings began.

FIEAUCF

“With our 10-year anniversary approaching, it’s great to see the Princeton Review continue to recognize the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students,” said executive director Ben Noel. “We’re proud to be part of Central Florida’s growing digital economy.”

Since opening its doors in 2005, FIEA has graduated 412 alumni working at more than 125 companies around the world, including Google, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, Bungie, Zynga, Ubisoft, Disney, Microsoft, Bethesda, n-Space and Industrial Light & Magic.

“FIEA’s exceptional faculty members, first-class facilities and close connections with the gaming industry’s top companies have propelled the school to one of the very best of its kind in the country in less than 10 years,” said UCF Provost and Vice President A. Dale Whittaker. “This is a testament to UCF’s success with location-based education and valuable partnerships – our students thrive in the classroom and in the job market when they learn in an environment so closely immersed in their industry.”

The average starting salary for recent FIEA graduates is $60,359 and they are working on some of today’s most popular projects. Those games include NBA Live 15, Diablo III, Sunset Overdrive, Skyrim, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars 1313, Borderlands 2, Battlefield 4, The Walking Dead, Gears of War 3, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Bioshock Infinite, Transformers 3 and Dead Space 3.

The school is located at UCF’s Center For Emerging Media building, located in downtown Orlando near UCF’s future downtown campus. FIEA is designed to graduate talented and well-qualified professionals to work in video games, new media, film and simulation industries.

The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com) chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2014-15 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

In addition to being published today on The Princeton Review website, the listing will also be featured in the May issue of PC Gamer magazine, on newsstands March 31.

See the full rankings.

TEDxOrlandoSalon at Valencia College Osceola Feb 11

By: @jenvargas

Who or what is TED? And why are salons involved? We’ll explain…

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. Attendees have called it “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future.” The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists — is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane GoodallSir Richard Branson, Designer Philippe Starck and U2 frontman Bono.

These inspirational idea talks have spread across the country and all over the world. Many cities hold their own events and Orlando is no exception. We have our own TED event, TEDxOrlando, which began in 2010. The next Orlando talk will be held at the historic Garden Theatre in Winter Garden on September 12th. (Note: The “x” in TEDxOrlando means that its independently organized.)

A “Salon” breaks the conversation down into an even smaller bite, if you will, sans the live speakers. Also with this event, the event program is determined by a vote. They show two previously recorded TED talks and have an open ended discussion of each. Our TEDxOrlandoSalon meets at different Valencia College Campus and meet every other month where refreshments are served and mingling (not self promotion) is encouraged. They also have a book exchange.

The next TEDxOrlandoSalon is this Wednesday, February 11, 2015 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at Valencia College’s Osceola Campus (Building 4, Room 105). Those interested in visiting can register for the event via the web at www.tedxorlando.com/salon. TEDxOrlando is also always on the lookout for dynamic, interesting Speakers and dedicated volunteers.

On Twitter: @TEDxOrlando

On Facebook: TEDxOrlando

Orange County’s New Technology: #SocialMedia Workgroup to Advance Citizen Engagement and Support #DigitalCommunity

Successful Digital Outreach Initiatives in Orange County, Florida

As advocates for the region’s burgeoning tech community, several online and social media influencers – who also played a significant role in amplifying the digital presence of Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ 2014 State of the County in June – will continue their role as innovators and collaborators in Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

To expand the online conversation and facilitate a dialogue with a broader demographic, Mayor Jacobs invited online influencers to be Social Media Ambassadors during the Mayor’s 2014 State of the County in June. The Ambassadors, who have large followings on social media networks, engaged citizens by sharing messages on social media to increase public engagement and awareness regarding Orange County’s Year of Transformation.”  Google Glass was used to record and share live from the eyes of one of the Ambassadors, making the event the first State of the County address in Florida to feature Google Glass.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

“Mayor Jacobs’ State of the County Social Media Ambassadors program definitely brought awareness to the region’s innovation that has propelled our community to the national stage as the new technology hub of the southeast,” said Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction Group andpresident ofOrlandoTech Inc.,a nonprofit organization supporting the Orlando technology community. “I look forward to Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup which will further support our dynamic community.”

The Orange County Technology and Social Media Workgroup will operate as a think-tank to advance new technologies, social media and mobile applications supported and developed by Orange County Government. The workgroup will also collaborate on how to best enhance online public engagement and support the growing the technology and digital community in our region.

“It is really impressive the way Mayor Jacobs and Orange County has brought together individuals from different sides of social media and the technology spectrum to work together,” said Ian Suarez, graphic designer and social media coordinator for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. “It is important to increase public awareness on what the county is doing for our community in today’s tech savvy world. I am honored to be part of such a talented group of leaders in our community.”

iCloak KickStarter Launch Party Tonight 6/25

(June 25, 2014) Tonight at Shine on Wall Street in downtown Orlando ICLOAK™ Stik KickStarter Campaign will hold their official Launch Party. Starting at 6 p.m. there will be free drinks for the first 100, icloakGuyfree food, prizes, and give aways every half hour until 9.

ICLOAK™ is a portable anonymity tool that helps users connect to browse anonymously and securely on any Windows, Linux or Mac computer. Tourists and business travelers can use this technology to hop on any WiFi securely, whether at a local public Internet Cafe or airport. If you have the technological skill to insert a USB drive and restart a machine then you can use ICLOAK.

This launch party marks the kick off of ICLOAK’s campaign. Free tickets are available through EventBright.