11 Ways Technology Will Keep You Safe

istock
istock

Advancements of modern technology are actually making us safer—not only can new forms of password protection help to safeguard our digital files and documents, advances in voice recognition and gesture control also create a heightened degree of security for our devices and homes.

1. DATA ENCRYPTION KEEPS YOUR INFORMATION FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

As remote computer hacking becomes a greater concern, the marriage of data to a local hard drive—or better yet, to a small set of drives—can be the best course of action for any individual or company hoping to keep information safe. Hardware- and software-based data encryption systems encode your information so that only authorized parties are able to retrieve and read it.

2. TRACK DOWN AND LOCK YOUR COMPUTER IF LOST

You can safeguard all the prized data you have stored on a particular computer even if the device has been misplaced. New free apps (like Prey) and paid software (like LoJack) allow you to locate your missing device and lock your hard drive by phone or Internet on a trusted second device.

3. FINGERPRINTS REPLACE PASSWORDS

Traditionally, access to a secure personal computer is granted via a typed password. Now, many devices come equipped with an option to unlock with a fingerprint scan. Hackers might be able to guess your password, but it’ll be pretty tough for them to reproduce your fingerprint!

4. AS DOES FACIAL RECOGNITION

For another (and arguably even more impressive) option, the Intel Security True Key™ app can actually memorize the mathematical structure of your face and grant access to your files following facial scans. Minute details like the distance between your eyes register with your computer’s memory, enabling it to discern between your visage and somebody else’s.

5. USE YOUR MOBILE DEVICE AS AN ADDITIONAL MEASURE

To double down on the security of your personal files, make sure that you can only access one of your devices with another of your devices. The True Key app also allows you to program your cell phone to act as a “key” needed to unlock your laptop or tablet.

6. APPLY THESE PASSWORD SUBSTITUTES TO YOUR FRONT DOOR

The beauty of such security upgrades is that they are not exclusive to your laptops and cell phones: True Key will one day enable you to gain entry to your home.

7. LOCK YOUR DOORS AND ARM YOUR SECURITY SYSTEM REMOTELY

Say you left the house in a rush, forgetting to lock your doors or arm your home security system. Both tasks can now be done via mobile phone. This also comes in handy for house sitters, dog walkers, or any other trusted parties who might be stopping by while you’re not home. Keep the doors locked all day until the friend in question is scheduled to arrive, and then allow access as simply as flipping a digital switch.

8. RECEIVE ALERTS OF UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY

In the event that an intruder does manage to breach your front door, ADT home automation technology can send immediate alerts to your mobile device—whether you are in the house or miles away at the time of break-in—allowing you to take the necessary precautions to ensure your and your household’s safety.

9. IT CAN WORK FOR YOUR CAR, TOO

The same remote locking and unlocking capabilities applied to your computer or household could soon be available to your car. True Key is even working toward applying fingerprint and facial recognition technology to car security.

10. WIRELESS CHARGING

Connecting your phone to a strange charger, wire, or outlet can prove dangerous, as there is no shortage of means that hackers and thieves use to interlope computers and apprehend data. The integration of wireless charging technology, possible through the electricity-sharing capabilities of metal coils, into storefronts and business sites all across the world not only reduces the risk of connecting to a dangerous power source, but also leaves you far less likely to wind up without an active phone or computer in a time of need.

11. BANK MORE SAFELY

If you conduct your banking online, it might be worthwhile to sync up your personal computer to your digital bank account. On top of mandating your username and password upon login, the program necessitates that you access it through a specific device (or devices) previously decreed by you as safe. If you bolster these computers with fingerprint or facial recognition security, yours will be a tough vault to crack even if your account information does happen to fall into the wrong hands.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Late MythBusters Star Grant Imahara Honored With New STEAM Foundation

Grant Imahara attends San Diego Comic-Con
Grant Imahara attends San Diego Comic-Con
Genevieve via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Fans of MythBusters and White Rabbit Project host Grant Imahara were saddened to hear of his passing due to a brain aneurysm in July 2020 at the age of 49. Imahara, a graduate of the University of Southern California, used the television medium to share his love of science and engineering. Now, his passion for education will continue via an educational foundation developed in his name.

The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation was announced Thursday, October 23, 2020 by family and friends on what would have been Imahara’s 50th birthday. The Foundation will provide mentorships, grants, and scholarships that will allow students from diverse backgrounds access to STEAM education, which places an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. (Formerly referred to as STEM, the “A” for art was added more recently.)

Imahara had a history of aiding students. While working at Industrial Light and Magic in the early 2000s, he mentored the robotics team at Richmond High School to prepare for the international FIRST Robotics Competition. Whether he was working on television or behind-the-scenes on movies like the Star Wars prequels and The Matrix sequels, Imahara always found time to promote and encourage young engineering talent.

The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation’s founding board members include Imahara’s mother, Carolyn Imahara, and close friends Don Bies, Anna Bies, Edward Chin, Fon H. Davis, Coya Elliott, and Ioanna Stergiades.

“There are many students, like my son Grant, who need the balance of the technical and the creative, and this is what STEAM is all about,” Carolyn Imahara said in a statement. “I’m so proud of my son’s career, but I’m equally proud of the work he did mentoring students. He would be thrilled that we plan to continue this, plus much more, through The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation.”

Imahara friend Wade Bick is also launching an effort in concert with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to name a study lounge after Imahara. Donations can be made here.

You can find out more about the foundation, and make a donation, on its website.