Monday, 16 May 2016

Best Laptop For Me: Which Laptop Should I Buy?

What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer.

In this day and age where smartphones have grown into phablets and tablets have grown into mini-computers there is still a need for a "real computer" with a keyboard and large screen to:
  • Use for school.
  • Office work.
  • Creating and using spreadsheets.
  • Video editing.
  • Creating a presentation.
  • Working on your blog or website.
  • Editing images for social media, article, or blog posts.
If you use your laptop continuously for at least 5 hours per day, then you use your laptop a lot.

The big question now is, "which laptop should I buy?"

As with all buying decisions there are a few things to consider like:
  • How often will I use it?
  • What will I use it for?
  • How much am I willing to spend on it?
  • Should I get a Windows or Mac?
  • Can I get support and how easy is it to access?
Let's say you're a blogger and want to invest in a laptop.

As a blogger you'll:
  • Create a blog post for your blog or as a guest blogger.
  • Create and edit images to augment your blog and social media posts.
  • Create presentations to share on SlideShare.
  • Create podcasts.
  • Attend webinars.
  • Customize your blog by tweaking its code.
  • Join affiliate programs. 
  • Take courses. 
  • Attend meetings, seminars, and workshops.
And many other activities.

For these you'll need:
  • a large screen with a great display.
  • Something with more than 6 hours battery life.
  • Has a solid keyboard and trackpad.
  • Small.
  • Thin.
  • Light.
  • Can easily give you 3 - 4 years of use.
  • And have accessories such as cases, extra battery, headphones, mics and a cleaning kit readily available. 

 Best 2016 Laptop Options 

Dell XPS 13. What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer and a laptop fits the bill.

The Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 is a great option when purchasing a laptop. It:
  • Has a great 13.3-inch 1080p display screen allowing you to see every little detail.
  • 11-hour battery life of any Windows Ultrabook will keep you powered all day.
  • Solid keyboard and trackpad.
Dell XPS 13. What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer. And of course, a laptop fits the bill.
  • Small, thin and light weighing it at 2.9 pounds with dimensions of 12 x 7.0 x 0.3 inches. 
  • The newest Intel processor - Intel core i5 - which is 30% more efficient than previous models.
  • 8 GB of memory which is enough memory for most tasks.
  • Thunderbolt 3 which is accessible through its versatile USB-C port.
If you're not a Windows fan or have no OS preference an alternative to the Dell XPS 13 is the MacBook Air which offers:
MacBook Air 13-inch. What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer.
  • A better battery life of 12-hours
  • and a superior support network.
If you're on a budget and don't want to forego quality, you can get the Asus ZenBook UX305UA.
Asus ZenBook UX305UA. What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer.
  • It's great for its price.
  • Slim.
  • Light.
Asus ZenBook UX305UA. What laptop should I buy? The laptop you decide to buy should be based on your criteria and budget. In this day and age of smartphones, phablets and tablets, there's still a need for a real computer.
  • Battery life of 10-hours.
  • 8 GB RAM.
  • A good keyboard.
  • And a reliable trackpad.
  • Weighs in at 2.86 pounds and is less than 6 inches thin.
Whichever laptop you decide to get should fit within your criteria and your budget.

Now it's Your Turn...

Based on your needs, what laptop will you be getting?

Monday, 28 March 2016

What Drone Would You Buy if You Were Given a $1000?

Up for a hypothetical question?

Imagine walking by a store that sells drones; and out comes the owner sprinting out of the shop. He races up to you and says, "It's your lucky day! I'm going to give you anything in my shop up to the value of $1000"!

 You've got one hour to choose what you want, but your purchase has to be:
  • A drone;
  • Drone camera;
  • Micro SD Cards;
  • Drone protective camera lens;
  • Battery pack;
  • Propellers;
  • Propeller guards;
  • Remote controller monitor hood;
  • Backpack or carrying case to transport your gear;
  • Or some other kind of droning or drone gear.

You can make purchases from:
  • The Best-Seller;
  • Bundles; or 
  • Lightning deal aisle as well.

You can get as many products as you like, as long as they total $1000 or less.

What would you get?

Let's use the prices at Amazon's Photography Drones, as they have most things.

Now, don't get too caught up in the details. After all, what I'm asking is what gear you've currently got your eye on! 

Over to You

You can share your picks in the comments below.

What are you waiting for? Let's go shopping.

Above all fly responsibly.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

How to Stay on the Good Side of the FAA: Know Before You Fly

Update: FAA on the Ball

On Tuesday, March 30, 2016, the FAA increased the "blanket" COA from 200 to 400 feet for commercial sUAS pilots. 

Also, as of March 31, 2016, the FAA launched an online registration system for commercial sUAS pilots. Therefore:
  • No more form 8050-1.
  • No more snail mail and waiting to hear if you've been successful or not.
  • And no more paying out hundreds of dollars for companies to assist you with this process.
This is wonderful news

Congratulations to the FAA for making strides in order to regulate the droning environment in the US.

Fad or Mainstay

Camera-equipped drones have gained in popularity, cost and user friendliness beginning in 2007. 

This is facilitated in large part, by the proliferation of smartphones, which led to the development of inexpensive gyroscopes and accelerometers making it possible for the mass-production of capable yet inexpensive autopilots. 

Indeed, the cost of camera-equipped multi-copters are now well within the means of the buying public who want to take aerial videos for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to: 

  • Journalism.
  • Wildlife observation. 
  • Search-and-rescue operations.
  • Real-estate photography.
  • Law enforcement.
  • First responders.
  • Construction projects.
  • Roofing.
  • Pipeline surveillance.
  • Insurance Assessment.
  • Occasion photography such as weddings, graduations, festivals, other events.
  • Or perhaps plain fun. 

Drone Shopping

But before you rush out and buy a drone, you must, at least, learn enough to know:
  • which features are important;
  • what is safe; and
  • legal to do. 

Governing Authority

As you know, the Federal Aviation Administration - FAA - is the governing body for all American civil aviation protocols.

As a result, restrictions relating to the use of the airspace are implemented to safeguard and protect everyone's privacy.

Whether we agree or disagree with these measures; the rules are the rules and abiding by them help us to have, if not a peaceful, but a less conflicting life.

What would be your reaction if you were on this flight?

Get out of Everyone's Way and Make Sure Nothing Goes Wrong

The US is responsible for approximately 110,000 takeoffs a day. This accounts for roughly 30 percent of worldwide commercial departures and more than 75 percent of the world's aviation. 

Are Drones Dangerous?

Near Misses 

Drone accidents have increased significantly, and the consequences of operating a drone without airspace savvy can be grave.

In 2015, there were more than 650 reported incidents between crewed aircraft and errant drones compared to only 238 in 2014. 

These incidents along with other factors have spurred the FAA into creating the Know Before You Fly Campaign. The campaign sets out to educate the public, businesses and recreational drone pilots.

Rules for Flying Hobbyist or Recreational Drones

Now, owning a drone is awesome, and flying said drone is magical, but there are a few things to know so you and your drone can continue making beautiful moments in one piece. 

You might have gotten your drone for Christmas, saved diligently and or put a lot of time into making it the premiere flying machine, and whack! Your precious whirly bird is diving out of the sky.

I'm sure that that scenario does not appeal to you.

Neither would it be appealing to cause an accident which results in loss of life. 
  • If your drone weighs more than 250 grams (roughly 8.5 oz.) you have to get it registered.
  • Fly below 400 ft so as not to endanger other users.
  • Weigh less than 55 pounds.
  • Fly within your visual line of sight.
  • You need permission to fly within 5 miles of an airport.

Licensing Process

If you want to charge for any services related to flying a drone, you need to apply for a 333 exemption.

However, this 333 exemption has a clause that requires the drone operator to hold a crewed pilot's license.

But applying for a pilot license is neither cheap nor quick. You are looking at nothing less than $10,000, and this takes a few months to complete.  

In order to fly a drone commercially, you are required to have a pilot's license. As it turns out, the cheapest and fastest way to acquire one, is to learn to fly a hot air balloon.

Hot Air Balloon Certification

Now, a ballooning certification can be obtained in less than a month for under $5000. Going with a balloon license as opposed to a plane license is legal in the eyes of the FAA.

A clause in the 333 exemption states: "must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational or sports pilot certificate." While a ballooning license is not what they had in mind when they drafted the rules, according to this language, a balloon license does make you a certifiable drone operator. 

Similarities and Differences of Piloting a Drone and a Balloon

In ballooning:
  • You have to learn to read the weather.
  • Know the difference between class G and class B airspace.
  • Know the language for communicating with Air Traffic Controllers.
  • Piloting the balloon is more difficult, as it lacks the technology of the drones.
  • Drones are much smaller and lighter while a hot air balloon weighs around 8,000 pounds.

Right Side of the Law 

Many commercial operators fly without a license and assume they won't be caught, but don't be one of those who says, "Screw the rules". It's always better to be on the right side of the law. 

Technology has changed to the point where piloting a drone necessitates regulation.

Over the years, amateur drone users have given drones and droning a bad name. Therefore, learning about airspace deconfliction and classification, and meteorology is relevant to droning. 

Also, based on the current rules of the FAA, a pilot's license is not only required to fly a commercial drone but one that is current. This means a pilot must fly a minimum of three flights every 90 days.

No Fly Zones

Like parks that have clear markers to indicate paths for cycling, jogging, hiking and where you can have a picnic, some states have gone as far as to designating droning areas. 

No Fly Map App

The FAA is continually working to make droning as pain-free as possible.

As a result, they have a B4UFly map App in both App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android to help you.

There are numerous drone No Fly map apps available. 


After the FAA has updated all its rules and bylaws your hard earned ballooning certificate may seem like a waste.

It's not.

You've learned a new and valuable skill. Why not capitalize on it and create another line of business for yourself.

Or, just do it for the sheer pleasure and join a club. 

• Stay out of no-fly zones such as military bases, national parks, and the airport.
• Fly below 400 ft.
• Register your drone.
• And get your pilot license.
It's time we make drones an asset instead of a liability. 

Over to You

In your neck of the woods, are there any designated areas for you to fly? Share them with us. You never know who never knew.

What are your best practices when droning and how will you capitalize on your freshly minted balloon license?

What's your response to the FAA's move? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Most importantly, fly safely.

Friday, 18 March 2016

How to Pick Your First Drone: Beginners Buying Guide

Tower by kolibik-foto/dronestagram

Buying Choice

Looking for a drone and not sure which to buy?

Buying a drone is like buying shoes or a car even.

It has to meet certain characteristics like; it has to fit, be comfortable, and also has to fit your budget.

The steps are basically the same when buying a drone.
  • You decide for whatever reason that you need a new one.
  • You make up your mind about what type you want. New or used? What are you going to use it for? Has your family grown? Or in the case of your feet: have they grown or have any special needs?
  • You decide how much money you want to spend.
  • You make a list of places you can find the one you want.
  • You go to different places and test drive your choices.
  • Then you narrow down the choices some more.
And finally, when you make up your mind you take out your wallet.

All done.

What are Drones?

Drones are multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles - UAV - which are controlled remotely or can be flown autonomously through software-controlled flight plans that work with GPS.

They are used in aerial filming and aerial photography; including taking selfies.

Basically, drone technology allows you to use a "manless" plane - a flying robot - to capture photographs and videos.

Drones started to become more commercialized in 2007, but their popularity took off in 2014. They were, and still are buzzing over parks, races, beaches and other open-sky areas.

a short history of drones infographic

Top Drone Manufacturers

The sudden ubiquity of these flying machines is due to the companies that make them. Companies like:
  • DJI Innovations are the most popular drone builders in the industry with their Phantom series quad-copters with GPS First Person View.
  • Parrot specializes in wireless devices for mobile phones and automobiles. That is Bluetooth hands-free kits. They have drones like the AR.Drone, AR.Drone 2.0, and Bebop.
  • 3DRobotics is best known for their IRIS Plus model. Their drones are autonomous with GPS waypoint planning. They also made the world's first "smart drone": SOLO.
  • Syma Toys have broken onto the drone scene with their popular Syma X11 mini quadcopter, X5c-1 Explorer 2015 Version drone with a 6-axis Gyro system, and the Syma X5SW Plus quad-copter drone with WiFi FPV camera.
  • Hubscan has become a household name for its Hubscan X4 models including Hubscan X4 H107C and Hubscan H107D FPV X4 mini.
  • Blade has a range of quad-copters with features such as: SAFE to make their crafts easier and safer for flying. The Blade range of quad-copters most popular model is the Blade Nano QX which is awesome for beginners.

  • JJRC Toy Co. Ltd is the manufacturer of the H6C Auto Return RC Quadcopter with 2.0MP camera and the JJRC H26D 3MP HD Headless Mode One Key Return RC Quadcopter drone.
  • UDI RC Toys is a new drone manufacturer with popular models such as the UDI U840 Mini Nana RC Quadcopter and the Updated Discovery U818A-1 RC Quadcopter with HD video camera.
  • Walkera has a wide range of drone models at different price points like the QR LadyBird V2 Mini Quadcopter, Walkera QRX350, Walkera Tali H500, Walkera QRX800 and the Walkera Voyager 3. They also have Walkera 250 Racing Drone.
  • WL Toys has years of experience in the RC toy industry. Some of their better-known drones are the V262 Cyclone UFO Quadcopter, V686 Camera Quad-copter and the Q242G Mini FPV with 2.0MP camera.
  • Cheerson produces the CX-10 Mini Quadcopter and the CX-10C camera. They're also the creators of the open source Cheerson CX-20 that has camera gimbal support for semi-professional aerial video cinematography.
  • Hobbico is not so much a manufacturer, but a distributor of approximately 30 brands of hobby products including Dromida Ominus, Heli-Max and Estes Proto X.
  • Yuneec is the world leader of electric aviation. They provided the world's first ready-to-fly, out-of-the-box drone: Typhoon Q500 quad-copter in 2014. They made the Typhoon an "air and ground imaging solution" by adding a 4K camera and a SteadyGrip. Additionally, in 2015 there were innovative features like Watch Me, Follow Me and Dynamic Return Home which made it easier to capture perfect videos.

Drones and Technology  

These companies have made it possible for you to access the cheapest first-class flight you've ever booked; with the most incredible views!

All controlled by you.

This is accomplished by them providing a wide range of consumer-friendly quads, touting anyone-can-fly simplicity, high-resolution on-board cameras, at impulse-buying prices.

Over the years, drone sales have taken to the skies and is said to increase by 80% by 2020.

As a result, eye-in-the-sky videos are soaring on YouTube.

The quality is similar to what would be captured by big-budget filmmakers with professional helicopter crews.

But can a helicopter crew do this?

Ever wanted to have the maneuverability, freedom and exhilarating speed of a falcon?

This is what is afforded by these toys.

In order for you to take to the skies, the most challenging aspect is deciding which drone to buy.

When you peruse local or online hobby shops you'll find dozens of models on display, with no clear indication of what's best for each type of user.

Drone Shopping

When buying a drone - or anything else for that matter - you should purchase from a distributor who has all or most of the following traits:
  • They should be a reputable dealer.
  • Prominently displays user reviews.
  • Shows pictures and videos of the item.
  • States if the product can be used as is; and if not has the necessary parts and accessories to complete the sale.
  • That accepts various modes of payment.
  • That has a returns policy.
  • The products sold has support.
  • Various shipping times.
  • Offers warranty.
  • Allows you to purchase extended warranty.

Checklist for Buying a Drone

Before you go out drone shopping, check around before you make a final decision.

It would be awesome if you could go to a physical store and test out the drone before you make a buying decision.

When you are making your decision, bear these pointers in mind.
  • Buy a drone for $100 or less, simply because you will crash it, or the machine will fail or the software will fail. When you become more proficient you can spend any amount you'd like.
  •  Get a drone that is easy to control and operate.
  •  One that shoots awesome footage.
  • One that is portable regardless of the environment in which you want to fly.
  • One that has advanced settings; adding to the entertainment value.
  • And of course, it should fall within your budget.
Here are a few suggestions.

Ready for lift off!

For Kids

Which kid wouldn't want a fast-moving flying object?

No doubt about it, drones are dangerous and flights should always be supervised by adults.

The Parrot Mini-Drone Rolling Spider is for indoor flying.

It has a vast array of sensors that does a great job of stabilizing the flights.

The wheels though provide greater functionality by protecting the propellers.

It will need a tablet or smartphone for flying and taking pictures.

The Parrot does not do videos. It's:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Sturdy.
  • And has blade guards to protect siblings, walls, pets and other hazards against a less-coordinated pilot.
The Syma X5C is outdoor ready and comes with a dual stick controller and offers better range. It's
  • Big, fast and sturdy.
  • Has bright downward-pointing LEDs to help keep a track of it from the ground.
  • Comes with a high-def camera for shooting videos.
  • Forgiving design.
  • And is available for a great price from brick-and-mortars or online stores.
The above mentioned Syma X5C is also great for grown-ups and because of its price tag, it won't be a tragedy if you plow it into a tree.

First Time Adults

The Hudscan X4 H107C+ is also a budget breaker, palm-sized quadcopter, with a bit of a learning curve.

It has cool features common to the higher-priced models making it an awesome steal.

There is also a high-end version -  the Hudscan H107C  - that includes a high definition front-facing camera.

The Parrot Bebop drone is for a more advanced pilot who already possess a certain amount of dexterity in handling a robust quad-copter. It's:
  • Stylish.
  • Has a 180-degree fisheye camera.
  • Automatic flight-stabilization built-in GPS which guides the drone back to its launch site.
  • It can fly for approximately 12 minutes on a charge versus the 7-8 minutes for other drones in this class.
The Phantoms are the boss of drones and are responsible for many of the great drone videos on YouTube.

DJI started with the Phantom FC40 that has a friendly non-intimidating white design.

Then DJI went onto the Phantom 2 Vision+ that has:
  • a 25-minute battery.
  • A gimbal stabilized GoPro-style camera that can be controlled from the remote.
  • Return home GPS that allows you to plan your flight paths on your tablet.
  • It is best for everyone as it is the most balanced with:
  1. Great range.
  2. Long battery life.
  3. Nice visuals.
  4. Steady controls.
  5. Terrific mobile app support.
  6. It is pricey.        
There is also a Phantom 3 that’s available at


The best thing about drones is that they do not have to fly in a straight line like planes or helicopters:

 And they can turn on a dime and get up close and personal with dangerous obstacles.

3D Robotics Iris+ is for Hands-Free videography. If you insist on being the next Kim Kardashian with your very own personal camera crew following you everywhere you go. Well then, this autopilot drone is a dream come true. It:
  •  Is the first consumer-oriented drone that can follow - from above! - a target carrying a paired smartphone.
  •  Has up to 22 minutes of flight time.
  •  Gimbal-stabilized camera.


Blade Nano QX is best for beginners.

It's easy to master and with enough oomph to carry out automatic stability that goes towards safer flights.

It is upgradeable with an FPV kit, LEDs or other cool add-ons.

The Ehang Ghost drone lives up to its claim as "the world's easiest drone to fly".

Its uniqueness lies in it's touched-based and tilt control system which is powered by a smartphone.

This means it respond based on your commands and gestures. Its highest speed is 49 mph, and can be pre-programmed with a flight path and uses GPS to track your location.

To boot, it is user-friendly.

Lumenier QAV250 is for the DIY enthusiast who loves assembling their own gadgets: like an erector set. Get a tinkering! It has multiple camera mounts and the frame is also great for customization and a multitude of accessories. It also has its own landing gear and comes with LED strips.


And of course, abide by the rules and regulations as stipulated by the FAA.

You can also download the Know Before You Fly brochure here.

Over to You

So there you have it. A nice little tip of the drone iceberg. Which drone will you be getting?

Feel free to share, leave a comment, make a suggestion or ask a question.

Fly safely.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Smart Nano Drone from ONAGOfly

The Drone Craze

The Drone Craze continues to inspire new, smarter and safer drone technology for under the sea as well as in the air vehicles. The most important drone innovation today is "sense and avoid" technology for UAVs.

You are possibly familiar with drone manufacturers such as DJI, Parrot and 3DR who have produced popular models like the Phantom, Bebop and the Iris+ respectively.

Drones are becoming more compact, durable and packed with unbelievable capabilities such as follow me and longer up-time to suit the demands of the buying public.

New Kid on the Block

Well, there is a new kid on the block: ONAGOfly.

The ONAGOfly developers have raised $3,180,047 USD with over 15,000 backers from crowdfunding through Indiegogo for their Smart Nano Drone which is slated for release in March 2016.

The mini drone is controlled by a free app on your iOS or Android smartphone using a direct Wi-Fi connection that stretches up to 30 meters or 98 feet.

It will follow you snapping selfies or recording 1080p full-HD videos.

The follow feature is facilitated by the built-in GPS syncing with your phone.


The features include:

  • Passive infrared sensors on each side for obstacle avoidance within 20 cm of the ONAGOfly drone.
  • It measures 5 by 5 by 2 inches (125 by 125 by 46 mm) to fit in the palm of your hand.
  • It weighs 140 grams which is below the FAAs 250-gram weight to require registration.
  • A 12 - 15 minutes flight time.
  • Automatic takeoff and landing.
  • Barometric sensor for hovering in place.
  • Face and smile detection.
  • 15-megapixel camera. 
  • P2P streaming allowing direct sharing to social media. 

The Package

The package contains:
1. the drone;
2. two sets of propellers; and a
3. charger.

The best features of the ONAGOfly is that:

  • it can be used for any skill level;
  • has a great entry level price;
  • it's sense and avoid technology will save me money;
  • easily transported as it can fit in my purse; and 
  • I can access accessories for it.

It's definitely here to promote and enhance the "go anywhere lifestyle".

You can check out the full details on the developer's site or on the Indiegogo page.

Over to You 

What do you think?

Are you looking forward to the ONAGOfly release?

Please feel free to share and leave a comment.