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Tech review: Home improvement apps that can help make your rooms look spiffy

The Home Design 3D interior design app lets

The Home Design 3D interior design app lets you build virtual floor plans and then, using its library of items and furniture, place them in the room to see how they will look in real life.  Credit: Newsday/Anuman

Spending more time at home? Who isn’t. But if your house or apartment is starting to go from lived in to worn out, these home improvement and repair apps can help you with a big job or a quick fix.

The Home Depot

(iOS, Android; free)

Search your local Home Depot for an item, and if it’s not in stock get it shipped to the store or your home. For items in stock, the app tells you the aisle and bay where you can find it. There’s also an "image search" so you can get an idea about that doodad you need replaced but whose name you don’t know. While in the store, use the built-in bar code reader to scan items and get information and reviews.

Lowe’s

(iOS, Android; free)

Like its archrival Home Depot, Lowe’s makes finding and buying home improvement and repair items through its app easy. You can check store inventory so you don’t make unnecessary trips. For many products, there are excellent photos — some can be accessed with 360-degree views so you can see all details. You can call up ratings and reviews for many products to get a better idea if they are right for you.

Home Design 3D

(iOS, Android; free)

This interior design app lets you build virtual floor plans and then, using its library of items and furniture, place them in the room to see how they will look in real life. Customize everything: Change the colors of the walls, furniture, floors and more and see your results in 3D rendering. The free version has a limited number of designs, but the Gold version ($9) has unlimited floor plans.

IKEA Place

(iOS, Android; free)

Yes, that lamp, love seat and couch look great in your local IKEA, but how will they look in your home? Using augmented reality, IKEA Place lets you select items from a library of photos and superimpose them in your actual rooms. The app can get balky sometimes (the iOS version is smoother than the Android one), but it’s worth the trouble. Best of all, unlike most real IKEA items, the digital furniture is already assembled.

FBI warns on hotel teleworking

Companies booking hotel rooms to allow employees to remotely work with fewer distractions, beware. The FBI says this “COVID 19-driven increase in telework” poses a cybersecurity risk. The agency says guests can’t “control, verify or monitor network security” and urges workers using hotel Wi-Fi to use a virtual private network or their phone’s wireless hot spot instead. For more hotel teleworking information from the FBI, go to nwsdy.li/FBIpsa.

— PETER KING

Weaponized AI could cause mayhem

Artificial intelligence weaponized for crime or terrorism would cause great societal harm, according to a new British study. Deepfakes — fake audios or videos — could destabilize governments or be used in financial crimes, for example impersonating a family member claiming to need money in a video call. Other potential crimes include hijacking autonomous cars or disrupting AI-controlled systems, which could cause mass casualties.

— PETER KING

Sound judgment

Sales of vinyl records surpassed those of CDs for the first time since 1986, a key turning point for the format’s resurgence. People spent $232.1 million on vinyl records in the first half of 2020, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, eclipsing the $129.9 million spent on compact discs. Music fans value vinyl records’ higher-fidelity sound compared to the sound produced by CDs’ compressed files.

— BLOOMBERG NEWS

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