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    February 27, 2016
    Your Next Smartphone’s Most-Wanted Features

    smartphone-battery

    There’s no such thing as a perfect smartphone.  They’re great devices, but there are a lot of problems with them.  Well, not problems, just… ways to find improvements.  After all, there’s no a device in the house that can’t be improved with a little consideration.  Here are some of the features your next smartphone SHOULD have.

    Some of these features, like smart charging and fingerprint reading, are already there, but not very common.  Other features, like expandable storage and removable batteries, are features that SHOULD happen and were available on older phones, but have been phased out over time in a drive to make things smaller and lighter.  However, smaller and lighter aren’t always the be-all end-all of phones anymore.

    I’m having issues with my phone battery now, so it won’t be too long before I’ll want to actually pull the battery out and swap it with a better one.  I don’t think I can do that on my current phone, but I’d like to find a way.

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    February 8, 2016
    The Online Museum Of Malware

    These days, there are viruses and malware everywhere.  Every website you visit might have it.  Forget about downloading anything; you’re just asking for trouble.  Even our phones and watches can fall victim to virii and nefarious things.  Once upon a time, viruses weren’t really all that bad.  It was more about having fun and less about destruction or ransomware, and a new museum has opened up to remember the good old days of relatively harmless viruses.  You won’t need to hop on a bus; it’s all on your computer.  The Malware Museum is an online museum dedicated to malware and old-school viruses.

    The software examples have been put together by security researcher Mikko Hyppönen.  Don’t worry; they all run safely in your browser via DOSBox and won’t do any harm.  You can even download the old viruses and play with them yourself; once again, there’s nothing to fear because all the harmful code has been stripped away from them, so they’re just there to have fun with.  If panicking over viruses is fun.

    Find out all about the old-school viruses by heading over to the Malware Museum on the Internet Archive.

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    January 28, 2016
    Peak iPhone

    There’s always a time when a technology stops being the hot new thing and becomes just something most people have in their house.  For example, the television.  For awhile, HD TVs were big business, and now most people have them.  Sure, they can make them bigger or give them better, higher definition, but at a certain point a TV is just a thing you watch The Bachelor on.  There’s not a must-have new TV on the market.  For Apple, there’s a very real fear that the company is struggling with:  Has Apple reached ‘peak iPhone’?

    Here’s the issue.  The first quarter of 2016 showed a huge decline in iPhone sales from 2015’s first quarter, which for Apple isn’t necessarily a good thing.  After all, there’s an enormous user base, and most of them rush out to upgrade phones whenever they can to get the latest and greatest.  What that means is they might do great business when the next iPhone comes out, but for the moment, they have a huge business that depends on selling iPhones to people, with the iPhone accounting for two-thirds of $234 billion dollars in revenues.

    That’s a mighty big bite of the apple if that number starts going down.  Still, I think a lot of companies would kill to be in Apple’s position.  If they need a revenue boost, they just need to push out a slight upgrade on the iPhone, or some sort of new color scheme.

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    January 24, 2016
    Google Maps Will Start Predicting Your Journey

    Google Maps is really handy.  I’m generally okay at knowing my way around, getting to places where I need to go, and not forgetting directions, but that’s because I write everything down.  I used to have notebooks full of directions of places I would go multiple times, but not enough to learn the route by heart.  That lasted entirely too long, because I took forever to get a smartphone.  Now that I’ve joined the rest of the world in the 21st Century, I love Google Maps and how it helps me get around town.  Now Google’s taking a great product and making it even better by making your map smarter than some drivers.

    Google’s new map feature is going to tell you where you’re going automatically.  It’s called Driving Mode, and it uses a combination of features to try and figure out where you’re going without you telling it.  It takes into account time of day, traffic patterns, search history, set locations you have programmed into your phone, and other notable features pulled from both your personal history and Google Maps.  Most importantly, you’ll no longer have to tell your phone where you want to go, which is always a pain in mid-drive.

    The ETAs Google Maps promises to provide with Driving Mode only helps make things work a little better for those of us who like to wait until the last minute to try and get somewhere.

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    January 23, 2016
    25 Very Hidden iPhone Features

    The iPhone is a phone with many secrets.  For something as user-friendly as most Apple products are, it’s kind of remarkable to consider the fact that the iPhone still has a lot of features that most people will never uncover.  Some of these tricks are solutions to common problems, like with the fingerprint identification feature or with the phone’s apparent inability to redial.  Others are a bit less common, like the ability to do math without opening the calculator in Spotlight.  Here are 25 hidden features in the iPhone.

    Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how many things the average smartphone can do.  Other times, it’s hard to believe what things the average smartphone won’t do.  This list, and lists like it, help to solve a lot of the problems that surround smartphones and make the user experience a little better.  How handy would it be to be able to shut down multiple apps with the swipe of your fingers?  Very, that’s how.


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    December 14, 2015
    A $30 Google Chromecast Comes With A $20 Gift Card

    People seem to love streaming devices.  I have a good television, but it’s not a smart television. I have a good blu-ray player, but again, while it can kind of stream YouTube and Netflix, I wouldn’t go so far as to consider it a smart device.  I have an Amazon Fire TV Stick, and I love it.  It’s spectacularly useful and a whole lot of fun.  I can only imagine just how useful a Chromecast can be, and it’s now on jail.  Buy a Chromecast for $30, get $20 to spend on the Google Play store.

    That means a Chromecast will be only $10, depending on if you actually want to spend any money on Google Play.  I don’t know why you wouldn’t, in all honesty; I use Google Play on occasion and it’s a really good service.  That’s a pretty good deal; a Chromecast and a bunch of movies and television shows or whatever for $10?  That’s tempting, even for someone who already has one streaming stick.  I guess you can never have enough streaming devices, provided that you have enough televisions to stream media with.

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    December 12, 2015
    Apple’s iPhone Pop-Up Ads

    There are a lot of people who need phone upgrades.  So long as my phone is working, I’m not in any hurry to buy a new one.  Most people aren’t, but some people are.  If you’re a slow upgrader like I am, sometimes you need a push in the right direction.  Apple is supplying that push to some complaints from users.  Apple has put pop-up ads for the new iPhone 6S in the App Store interface.

    If you’re using an older model iPhone, when you go to the App Store, a full-screen pop-up add appears for the iPhone 6S.  The only to get rid of the ad is to press on the skip button (or, I guess, upgrade your phone, but who has that kind of extra money?)  Of course, it’s not showing up for all users, just specific ones selected by some sort of Apple interface.  I’m not sure how they’re picking the users, but enough of them are complaining about the ads to raise up a slow public backlash.

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    December 2, 2015
    Christmas Lights Might Slow Down Your WiFi

    It’s that time of year.  If you haven’t done it already, then you’re making plans to do it.  It’s the holidays, and that means it’s time to trim the tree, put up the lights, and do all of the holiday-related decorating that people do around the holidays, myself included.  However, all electronics that emit radio waves have a similar issue, and that’s their disruption to home Wi-Fi signals.  That’s right, your Christmas lights and other electronic holiday decorations might be slowing down your WiFi.

    Ofcom, the UK’s version of the FCC, has stated that lights can cause interference, and blinking lights in particular are a problem for most wireless routers.  There are a few times out there, like perhaps adjusting the channel on your router and making sure your router is as far away from your holiday decorations as possible, but for the most part, most users aren’t going to experience a significant slow-down as a result of a few fairy lights hanging off of a plastic tree or stapled under a gutter.

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    December 1, 2015
    Apple Unplugging Headphone Jack?

    Thinner and lighter.  Thinner and lighter.  If the smartphone world had a drumbeat, it would sound like the phrase “thinner and lighter”, with the occasional “more battery life” thrown in.  Apple has certainly taken to the “thinner and lighter mantra”, without dropping Apple’s traditional love of upselling users on expensive extras using proprietary ports.  Remember firewire?  Apple will more than likely get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next version of the iPhone.

    It’s all about lighter and thinner for Apple, despite the fact that the iPhone already has issues with being too long and too thin to be kept safely in the back pocket without shattering the screen (this actually happened to my wife) or bending the unit.  Apple, in its infinite greed/wisdom, has decided that changing from the 3.5mm standard headphone port to a Lightning port used for headphones.  (Does that mean that Apple will both charge the phone and power the headphones with the Lightning port?)

    Even if Apple makes the change, someone’s going to sell an adapter for the phone to allow continued use of real headphones.  However, Apple’s future is going to be that Lightning port, even if they bow to public pressure–again–and save the 3.5mm headphone jack.

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    November 16, 2015
    Walmart’s $10 Android Phone

    How would you like to have a smartphone for less than the price of a large pizza at your local fast food chain?  Well, if you’re willing to put up with some cut corners, then there’s a deal out there for you.  Walmart is selling a pair of $10 pre-paid Tracphone smartphones.  That’s right, that’s the cheapest possible smartphone available out there today, and probably the cheapest one that isn’t fully subsidized by a carrier.

    The two phones are called the the LG “Sunrise” L15G and LG “Lucky” LG16, both locked to Tracphone’s services.  The two phones are basically the same, with one being GSM and one being CDMA.  Neither phone supports 4G, but both connect to wireless internet and both are similarly featured, with a  a 3.8-inch LCD screen, a quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3MP rear camera, a 1540 mAh battery, and 4GB of storage with the capacity to add a micro-SD card (the phones come with a 4GB card to increase storage space).  There’s no selfie camera, and there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to the phones, which run off two-year-old Android builds.

    So the phones aren’t the newest or the best, but did you get your smartphone for $10 without a contract?  More than likely not, unless you’ve been shopping at Walmart.

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