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    March 1, 2015
    Meet The Samsung Galaxy S6

    I never really got the excitement around smartphone launches.  Sure, I’d talk about them, read up on the phones, and all that stuff, but I’d never actually get just why people were so excited about a slight variation on their older phone.  Until I got one.  Now I get it.  Having something this fast and powerful in your pocket makes your life a whole lot easier, and when you’re someone like me who needs regular access to the Internet, it only makes things better.  No more forgetting to download podcasts; stream them from the cloud!

    Needless to say, people were very excited about the announcement of the new Samsung Galaxy S6.  More powerful, faster, lighter… all the usual smartphone improvements are there, but they come at a cost.  No more user replacement of the battery and no more Micro-SD card slot.  If you care about expanding memory and having better battery power, then this might not be the kind of development you’re looking for, but for everyone else–and most normal users–the S6 is an improvement over the old favorite, even if some of the design wrinkles haven’t been worked out.

    Image via Green Dot.

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    February 9, 2015
    Your Smart TV Is Listening In

    There’s always a catch, isn’t there?  Sure, you can voice control your television, but that voice data has to be processed somewhere, and it’s generally not within the confines of the television itself.  Your Samsung Smart TV is listening to you talk and transmitting your voice data to a third party company for processing.  So when you give your credit card number to order something off of home shopping or you discuss intimate medical problems while sitting around watching the tube, then someone’s listening and potentially writing down every word.  Don’t believe me?  Read the contract.

    Says Samsung’s fine print:  ”Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

    So what does that mean for Samsung?  Well, the company says that you have to activate the voice recognition, for one thing.  They also say they do not keep the information or sell your voice content.  There’s also an on-screen microphone that shows when the voice recording system is activated, so if that’s no on, you should be okay.  Still, maybe you might want to be careful around your appliances from now on.

    Image: BBC

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    January 14, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: iPhone Smuggler

    Via Chris Buckley on Twitter.

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    January 10, 2015
    iPhone Separation Anxiety

    As a new smartphone user, I find myself falling into the traps that always annoyed me about smartphone users who weren’t me:  namely, they were always on their phones.  Always at hand, always out, always nearby, always there waiting for attention.  Now I am one of them.  However, there’s a valid reason they’re always ready to have their phones out.  It turns out that smartphone users suffer from something researchers call iPhone separation anxiety, and it showed up in recent clinical tests.  Turns out, the phones are so important that they have a physical response to the lack of phones.

    People were given relatively simple puzzles, like word searches.  They first were given the tests with their phones at their person; afterwards, they were given another simple puzzle while their phone was within earshot and out of reach.  The results were surprising.  The folks without their iPhones all had higher symptoms of anxiety, like pulse rate and blood pressure, than they did when doing the same chores with their phones.

    “Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks,” said Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri who participated in the study.  ”Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”

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    November 12, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: New Computer, Circa 1950

    Via Reddit’s Old School Cool

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    October 15, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Mom’s iPad

    Image:  Reddit

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    October 14, 2014
    The Windows Tablet That Costs Less Than Windows

    If you haven’t heard of the companies Emdoor or Ployer, don’t be alarmed.  They’re not well-known companies here in the United States, and they’re probably not all that well-known in their native China, but they did make waves at a recent technology show in Hong Kong where both companies announced that they’re going to put two Windows tablets on the market with one noteworthy bonus:  both laptops cost less than the price of buying Windows.  Not one, but two $65 tablets.

    The Emdoor I8170 is a 7-inch tablet, while the Ployer MOMO8 is an 8-inch tablet.  Of course, they’re $65 so they’re probably very, very far from the top of the line, but if you’re going to choose between a $65 Windows tablet and no tablet at all, well… that’s not much of a choice.  They’re powered by Intel Atom processors, though not the top of the line ones, and feature an impressive 16GB of onboard storage.  Of course, they only have 1 GB of RAM to speak of, so they’re not going to win any sprints or be able to do a whole lot at one time, but when you’re buying a tablet for less than the cost of a new video game, well… you take what you get.

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    October 3, 2014
    Fun Friday Videos: The Butt Test

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, like the iPhone 6 Plus, is a huge phone.  Well, by phone standards anyway.  It’s light and thin and looks pretty breakable, but as it turns out, where the iPhone bends and breaks, the Note 4 bends and retakes its shape.  Samsung put out a pretty impressive commercial detailing the Galaxy Note 4′s flexibility and strength, and it’s worth watching if only to see the giant rubber butt they use to bend-test the phone.

    YouTube Preview Image

    If you own a Samsung phablet, this is a reassuring video, definitely.  It’s amazing to think of how much weight something that small can withstand, and how much bend force it would take to bend the case.  If you’re an iPhone 6 Plus owner, well… I suggest you buy a really good phone case and avoid sitting with your new iDevice in your pocket, if at all possible.  Maybe keep it in a purse or briefcase, or at least a chest pocket.

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    October 1, 2014
    The iPad Gold

    One of the more successful ideas Apple had was to expand the range of color options for the iPhone.  After all, gray and white get old pretty quickly, especially when it’s all the color choices you have.  So when Apple rolled out gold as a color option, no doubt it helped the bottom line.  Now Apple is strongly considering a change of color for the venerable iPad, too.  That’s right, the next generation of iPad may come in gold.

    The next iPad, specifically the 9.7 inch model, isn’t officially announced yet, but most of these rumors end up being true once they make it out into the big wide world.  I don’t see why adding some color to the plastic molding process (or however Apple carves its iPad shells) won’t be a reasonable choice to make, given the success colors have.  Plus, people like choice.  The Henry Ford color choice conundrum–any color you want, so long as it’s black–won’t work for gray or silver, and it seems like a natural choice to expand the options.

    Of course, if you have enough plastic paint, you can make your iPad any color you want without damaging its usefulness.

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    September 30, 2014
    Microsoft 10: 12 Things To Know

    Microsoft is skipping a generation.  The company that jumped from Windows 98 to Windows XP is adding another confusing layer to its operating system naming system (kind of like how Apple names all its OSX updates after cats).  Microsoft 8 wasn’t a big success, so the company has decided to jump right past 9 and go straight to 10.  Microsoft has announced Microsoft 10, and here are 12 things you’ll need to know about it before it arrives.

    Interestingly, this announcement seemed aimed most at business customers, and focused on the productivity of Windows 10 and the way it would integrate touchscreen features with traditional computer interfaces in a more seamless way than Windows 8 did.  They also promise it will stretch across all form factors, from phones to desktops and everywhere in between, echoing Windows 8 promises but showing more of an awareness of just where they went wrong with the previous release, and what they would need to do to correct that.

    If they can actually make all this work in one OS (I remain skeptical) then they’ll really have something with Windows 10.  Then again, if it sounds too good to be true, I’ll just stick with Windows 7.

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