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Smart home security cam comes with facial recognition

With home security becoming more and more important, the need for home monitoring devices is on the rise. Netatmo’s Welcome is a great home security camera complete with facial recognition abilities.

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Home security is now smart

Home security has unfortunately become a necessity. Gone are the days where you could leave your front door unlocked and never worry about criminal activity. Now, we have fully monitored alarm systems, dead bolts, window locks, and outside motion sensors.

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But what exists leaves much to be desired. What if you need something to monitor your family and make sure they arrive home safely and remain where they are supposed to be? What if you’re looking for your smartwatch to tell you which kid is home, or that a stranger has been detected by cam?

What is Netatmo Welcome? It’s awesome, that’s what

This is where the Netatmo Welcome comes in. Netatmo Welcome is a completely self-contained, home security camera featuring facial recognition and no cloud connectivity needed. Plus, there are no subscription fees.

It’s sleek design and small size makes it easy to hide in plain sight. It almost looks like a speaker, honestly.

One thing to keep in mind – while it is self-contained, it does need a few things to be fully functional: constant power from a micro USB cable, your smartphone (to sync coverage), and a MicroSD card to store footage. Definitely nothing major, but the need for constant power may change where and how you place the device.

Ease of setup

Welcome is best aimed at a front door, or other main entry point into your home. Monitoring apps are available for both Android and iOS phones.

Once you’re ready to set it up, you’ll turn the Welcome upside down and enter your Wi-Fi information into the app. Once you’ve done this, the app will start to create a timeline of events, triggered by movement, and whether or not it has “seen” a face it recognizes.

Any time a “recognition” happens, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. This notification will either contain captured footage, or direct you to a live feed of the Welcome. There is a small delay, most users say a few seconds, from the time the activity is recorded to the time you receive a notification on your phone.

Our favorite part: Facial recognition

The main selling point of the Netatmo Welcome is its ability to memorize and recognize up to 16 different faces.

How does it do this? The learning process is a secret, but Netatmo states that it can take the device five times of seeing someone’s face before it can consistently recognize and identify them as a member of your family and not a stranger.

This can be a bit annoying in the beginning as you receive an alert when an “unknown” person is in your home. During the learning process this “unknown” may be your child. Once Welcome has learned the faces of your family, however, you won’t be plagued by those notifications.

One caveat with recognition: if the Welcome is placed in a dimly lit (or overly bright) room, it will have a hard time distinguishing faces, or so I’ve heard.

As it learns, it gets smarter

Obviously you need a bit of patience in the beginning with Welcome, but I find this to be true with a great deal of electronic devices, especially those that fit a particular niche. For example, if you have a busy home, with children, babysitters, and lots of coming and going,

Netatmo Welcome will offer you peace of mind, knowing everything is okay and everyone is where they are supposed to be. This is also useful if you want to keep a watchful eye on parents or caregivers without robbing them of their sense of independence.

A few drawbacks to keep in mind

While I have not tested the Netatmo Welcome myself, several other users have said it does come with a few drawbacks. For example, the Wi-Fi range of the device seems to be limited. The can make it difficult to place the device where it would be most useful. Also, there is no battery back-up built in to Welcome, so if you lose power, or an unscrupulous thief cuts the power to your home, the device will be of no use. Perhaps in a future version.

As previously stated, the facial recognition component of Welcome is said by some to be spotty, or take a while to fully recognize a member of your family. This could lead to unnecessary notifications and alarm, but there is a learning curve with almost all new technological devices. Also, as all recorded video is stored on the MicroSD card, if someone happens to break in and steal the Welcome, all recorded and stored video will go with it.

Even though Welcome has a few potential drawbacks, it has several clear advantages as well: Its small size, facial recognition, and ability to hide in plain sight are excellent reasons to give Welcome a trial run.

#NetatmoWelcome

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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Time is money and Clockify helps you make the most

(TECH NEWS) Tracking your time worked as a freelancer can easily be lost in the shuffle. A new tool has been designed to make this important aspect easier.

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After years of searching for a method that works for me in terms of organization and productivity, the answer seemed to be simple: a calendar I can write on and Post-It notes. This method is a little old school, but seems to get the job done for my organizational needs.

However, there are some things that slip through the cracks with this method, but it’s more user error than it is the actual practice. One thing I struggle with is keeping track of my freelance hours this way.

I have a tendency to guesstimate how much time I worked throughout the day and know that I wind up underdocumenting my hours. I would hate to know how much money I’ve missed out on keeping (sometimes inaccurate) handwritten notes.

But, like many other small scale issues, there is a simple solution. And that is found in the form of time trackers.

One of the newest members to join the online time tracker team is Clockify, who operates under the idea of “your time, your rules.” It is a free time tracking tool designed for agencies and freelancers.

Clockify allows users to manage as many team members, projects, and workspaces that you need in an effort to help your business run smoothly. This allows for a complete overview of team productivity.

The tool offers a way to enter time manually as well as clock time automatically. This way you can keep tabs on what you’re working on and assign and label time logs to the appropriate clients.

With this time tracking, you are able to generate weekly, monthly, and annual reports at any given time. These reports can be saved, exported, and shared with clients to give them more information about your work process.

The real-time tracking helps to improve business efficiency and gives more insight into what each team member is spending their time on. Having this information available can give visual representation of how to improve in the future.

Clockify currently exists in desktop format with iOS and Android apps coming soon.

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Russia vetoed cryptocurrency and came back with CryptoRuble

(TECH NEWS) Russia put a hard pass on other cryptocurrencies in their country so that they could hop in the crypto-game with their own CryptoRuble.

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Just days after The American Genius reported that the Russian Central Bank would attempt to block access to cryptocurrency trading cites, the Coin Telegraph has reported that the Russian government will issue its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble.

The report cited local Russian papers, who quoted the minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Earlier this week, head of the Central Bank, Sergei Shvetsov, said that he would work with the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban Russian citizens from accessing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, calling such currencies a “negative phenomena for our markets” and a “pyramid scheme.”

Now it appears that the Kremlin will create its own cryptocurrency – one it can keep an eye on — which, some might argue, defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency.

However, like other cryptocurrencies the CryptoRuble will be based on blockchain and will presumably help prevent online fraud.

CryptoRubles will be exchangeable with regular Rubles, although the systems of exchange have not yet been set up. Experts think that Russia is hoping to stimulate e-commerce without the need for foreign money markets, which will allow them to have more independence from the United States.

According to Nikiforov, the Russian government is setting up its own cryptocurrency under the assumption that if they don’t, other European governments will.

Said NIkiforov, “I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”

Traders using CryptoRubles will be asked to provide documentation of retail transactions and services rendered – or pay a 13 percent tax for undocumented transactions, leaving a wide loophole for money laundering.

Critics say that Russia is trying to facilitate, while also profiting from money laundering; that the Kremlin is stealing the market from other cryptocurrencies; and that the CryptoRuble fundamentally defies the spirit of decentralization that inspired other cryptocurrencies.

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Microsoft’s overseas email storage piqued the Supreme Court’s interest

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft has been in a pretty large dispute about storing user emails abroad and the Supreme Court has taken an interest in it.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case that will decide whether or not U.S. law enforcement officials can force tech companies to turn over emails and data stored in overseas servers.

The case will review a lower court decision made in 2013 after federal officials attempted to obtain emails from Microsoft that would provide evidence for drug trafficking cases.

At that time, Microsoft refused to comply with the government, even though they had a warrant, instead taking the case to court, claiming that the U.S. government did not have the right to access data stored in servers in Ireland.

The court of appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, citing a 1986 digital privacy law that allows law enforcement to obtain warrants for electronic communications, but not if the data is stored outside of the United States.

Judge Susan Carney said of the law, “Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statue envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas.”

The Trump Administration and the Justice Department say that this ruling has majorly blocked efforts to prosecute criminals.

“Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud — are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

Because Microsoft stores data and communications closest to the user’s location, Wall said that the lower court’s decision made it all too easy for terrorists and other criminals to hide their communications by claiming to live in a foreign country when signing up for an account.

Microsoft argues that, instead of handing this decision over to the Supreme Court, legislators should update the 1986 law.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud.” wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog.

“We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation.”

In Congress, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are pushing for just such an update with a piece of legislation called the Stored Communications Act.

Microsoft further argued that allowing U.S. law enforcement to obtain data from other countries was an “incursion” on those nations’ sovereignty, which would make U.S. citizens more vulnerable to foreign governments.

“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” said Smith.

The Justice Department says that, along with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, and Yahoo have all stopped complying with search warrants since the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early in 2018 and hope to have a decision by June.

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