Category Archives: Web Tool

Web Tools – HomeKitty

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 11.23.03 AM

Web Tools – Are you one of the growing number of Apps users that are wanting to automate their home in some way with HomeKit? If you are you probably already know it is a bit of a problem finding all of the products that work with HomeKit.

Of course Apple does have their own official list of HomeKit compatible products. Now, though, there is another source, HomeKitty, that provides a crowd sourced list of homeKit compatible products. I prefer HomeKitty as it includes a photo of each item, its price and a link to further information.

If you are thinking about implementing some home automation with HomeKit, you may find this new tool useful.

See my other Web Tool articles



Web Tool – GasBuddy

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 5.44.32 PM

WebTools – We all (well almost all) of us need fuel for our autos. The web site GasBuddy lets you check out the latest fuel prices. Prices are kept up-to-date by users making adjustments when they go to fill up their tanks.

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 5.47.59 PM

As the result of hurricane Harvey, fuel is somewhat hard to find in Texas right now. GasBuddy is helping consumers with a separate Gasoline Availability Tracker map that shows which stations have fuel for sale. As you can see from the screen shot above, most stations in the Austin area are currently out of fuel.

Whether you are in desperate need of fuel this weekend somewhere in Texas, or just looking for where you can fill your tank for the lowest cost, GasBuddy may be your answer.

See my other Web Tool articles


Web Tool – National Weather Service

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 1.30.40 PM

Web Tools – While looking at Apps to track Hurricane Harvey, I found some very good on-line tracking through the National Weather Service. The screen shot of the home page above gives an overview of the entire US. Clicking on an area of the map gives you a more detailed view. In my case I am intersested in South Texas.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 1.30.09 PM

While the screen shot is fixed, the actual site provides an animated view of what has been appearing on radar over the past hour or so. This is another great tool to add to your collection to keep appraised of weather events near you if you are in the US.

See my other Web Tool articles


Web Tool – Unisys Hurricane Tracker

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 12.11.44 PM

Web Tools – In my search for Hurricane Trackers I came across the site Unisys Hurricane/Tropical Data.  As with the other tool I mentioned previously, this site has historical data on storms and covers both the Atlantic and Pacific. I like that this tool shows all of the storms in the current season to date alone with their tracks. I also like that the track of each storm is color coded to show the severity of the storm over its course. I only wish that it included a prediction of the landfall for the current storm and the ability to zoom in for a closer look.

See my other Web Tool articles


Web Tool – Accuweather Interactive Hurricane Tracker

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 5.54.14 PM

Web Tools – Those of us living in Texas or the other South Eastern states grow concerned this time of the year (June 1 to November 30) when Atlantic Hurricane Season is at it’s height. This year there have been 9 storms that have been tracked thus far.

Along the Gulf Coast hurricanes can be devastating when they come ashore. Even where I live Central Texas, we have felt the affects of hurricanes more than once. As it stands now, we likely will be experiencing the remnants of ‘Harvey’ as it moves through Texas. I went searching for sites to track hurricanes and one that I found that I like is the Accuweather Interactive Hurricane Tracker. As you can see from the screen shot above, not only is the hurricane’s historical path shown, but a prediction of where it is headed is given as well. You can also look at historical data on other hurricanes.

If you live in a region where you are subject to hurricanes, you may find this website useful.

On-Line Circuit Simulator

If you are into build-it-yourself electronics kits, you may have heard of LushProjects. In addition to various kits you can buy and assemble, there are also introductory courses to electronics available on the site. The best thing though is their on-line circuit simulator.

This simulator allows you to design DC and AC circuits. Use passive components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, switches, transformers and relays. You can also simulate electronic circuits that contain diodes and transistors. You can even go a step farther and describe a circuit that contains many of the off-the-shelf ICs available Logic gates, Op Amps, 555 Timers, DACs and many more.

If you are interested in electronics design for home projects, are a student of electronics or engineering, or a professional who wants to do a quick simulation, this simulator may be just what you are looking for.

See my other articles of interest to the Engineer


Tech Tip – Private Browsing with StartPage

Product ReviewmacOS Toolkit – I don’t recall where I first saw StartPage, but I installed the extension into Safari a few weeks ago and have been using it on a regular basis.

So, what is StartPage? StartPage is a search engine company based in the Netherlands. The potential benefits of StartPage include:

  • it is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies
  • it uses secure connections over HTTPS
  • it does not collect search information
  • it provides private click-throughs using a proxy

The basis of the search engine results is Google, so the results of the searches are as good as any when using StartPage. StartPage is provided by Ixquick “the world’s most private search engine. Ixquick has been third-party certified by EuroPriSe, a European Union privacy initiative.” If you visit the StartPage website, you will see the very prominent statement that “StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!“. Many have become concerned with this as some ISPs have begun to ‘harvest’ search history information from their clients.

Beyond the search anonymity, sites listed in the StartPage search results are accessed through a proxy service that “allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 2.10.56 PM

A portion of a search using StartPage is shown above. In the list of search results will be links very similar to those seen in a Google search. If you click on a link there, you leave the protection of StartPage and are browsing just as if you had been using Google. There is a “proxy” button besides each link in the search list. If you click that link then the page is retrieved through a StartPage proxy making your website visit invisible. You will encounter slower page loading when going through the proxy. StartPage provides a full description of how their proxy works here.

I think that this will become a standard part of my macOS Toolbox. While I am using StartPage with Safari, it is compatible with most browsers. There is also a Ixquick Search App that provides anonymous searching on mobile (iOS and Android) devices.  If you are concerned with your web browsing privacy, this may be an option you want to look into.

See my other macOS articles


Cyber Attack Map

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 6.39.20 PM

Cyber Security – The company Norse, which is one of the major cyber security players, offers a “real-time” cyber attack map. I can’t embed the page here, but you can follow that link and see it your self. The image above is a screen shot I took as I was writing this post. It offers various filters that you can choose to narrow your view of the cyber attacks being displayed.

As the article “Cyber Attack Maps…Accurate Or Just Eye Candy?” points out, this (and the other similar maps mentioned in the article) “real-time” map is really more symbolic of what is happening than a true “real-time” depiction of all of the malware activity. That said it is a very good tool to show people the magnitude of the cyberattacks going on around the world.

You may want to add a link to one of these sites to your collection of Web Tools.

Web Tools – SpeedOf.Me

Updated 12/2/15

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.14.22 PM

Have you ever been using your computer and wondered if you were really getting the bandwidth you were paying for? Well, you can easily find out your up and down speeds with this useful HTML5 web tool. SpeedOf.Me is a web site that can be used to determine those up and down data speeds, and it is done without installing any apps on your system, nor does it require Flash or Java.

The SpeedOf.Me site was created four years ago in December of 2011. In less than a minute this web page running locally in your browser will run a seven pass download test followed by a three pass upload test. This will give you a quick snapshot of the performance of your broadband connection.

Test file sizes for download passes increase with each pass until it takes longer than eight seconds to download the file. Test file sizes range from 128KB to 128MB, doubling the file size between passes. The test files are all contiguous files, similar to what you, as a user, would be doing. Test servers from which the test files are downloaded and uploaded are spread around the world.

While the test will work with any browser supporting HTML5, the SpeedOf.Me folks recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari for the best results.

I found this to be a great took and have added it to my bookmarks for future use.

UPDATE – One of my colleagues from CapMac contacted me after reading my post. He had compared SpeedOf.Me to others web tools and found some variation in the results. I followed up with similar tests and also found different speeds being reported. My first guess is that the methods of measuring the upload/download speed differs between these tools. That said, here is a table of the tools I tried and the results. These tests were run from the same Mac Mini over a 10 minute period.

Tool Technology Browser Download Mbps Upload Mbps
SpeedOf.Me HTML5 Safari Version 9.0.1 (11601.2.7.2) 8.31 1.53
SpeedOf.Me HTML5 Chrome
47.0.2526.73 (64-bit)
8.3 1.4 HTML5 Safari Version 9.0.1 (11601.2.7.2) 7.6 1.4 HTML5 Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.8 1.3 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.71 1.41 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.61 1.46 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.60 1.46


See my other Web Tool articles