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    July 23, 2015
    Apple: Free Beats With A Mac

    Every hot day brings the school year closer.  The sun rises, the sun sets, and back-to-school looms on the horizon.  However, with the encroaching school year comes the coveted back-to-school sale, and while Apple traditionally isn’t very giving when it comes to sales, they are loosening up the purse strings just a bit for a pretty interesting return-to-college promotion.  Apple is giving away free Beats headphones with every Mac purchase for students and faculty members.

    The deal is actually pretty good.  You buy your computer, and you have a choice of either a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones for free or a pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones for $100.  For wireless headphones, that’s a pretty good deal and worth the extra $100 over the price of your $2000 computer system.  I have wired headphones now, and every time I snag the wire on something or ruin another pair of headphones by shorting them out, I wish I would just bring my wireless headphones from home to work and get it over with.  The deal is currently active at Apple stores and Apple Authorized Campus stores as we speak, and it will be coming to the online Apple Store on August 6.

    For more information, check out Apple’s Beats promo page.

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    July 9, 2015
    Beta Test iOS 9 For Apple

    There’s something fun about getting to stuff before everyone else.  Back when I could play games, I loved getting early access perks for buying early, like when I preordered the Warhammer MMORPG.  I had a week or so where it was just me and a million other people grinding away for experience points.  Then everyone else joined up and I lost interest in the game.  That’s not quite as common with software.  Usually, you have to get lucky or know someone to become a software beta tester, but Apple is knocking down the door.  Apple is giving access to the beta version of iOS 9 to anyone who wants it.

    If you’re interested, just head over to Apple’s beta website and sign up.  The iOS 9 download will come with an app for reporting feedback on performance and bugs.  So, yeah, be prepared for lots and lots of bugs.  Apple suggests that users download it onto a secondary phone and make sure to back up your functioning phone BEFORE you put iOS 9 on it, just in case it turns out to be a really bad idea to install beta software on your only phone.

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    June 26, 2015
    The Apple Watch Battery Band

    The Apple Watch is kind of a big deal, but there’s one big problem with it.  While it’s apparently a fun product that people enjoy, the one complaint that pops up over and over is a complaint about the battery life.  The Apple Watch is good for an 8-hour day, but much longer than that and you’re at risk of a dead battery, but fortunately there’s a company out there who have the perfect solution to that problem.  Reserve Strap is a company that has produced an Apple Watch band with a hidden battery.

    That’s right, for $250, you can add an estimated 30 hours of battery life to your Apple Watch, without adding any bulk.  The Reserve Strap is only 25 mm wide and roughly between 3 and 9 mm thick, which means that it fits the Apple Watch’s band design guidelines while still being a great power source for the product in question.  You can keep track of the power supply using an LED indicator, choose to charge your watch as needed or keep it powering by hitting the power button, and you don’t even have to remove the Apple Watch from the band to charge it thanks to a hidden connector pin and a microUSB port.

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    June 25, 2015
    T-Mobile iPhones Hit With Blue Screen Of Death

    When you buy a new phone, you don’t expect there to be any problem with it.  After all, I’m not sure I’ve turned my phone off more than a dozen times since I bought it, and I’ve had few if any problems.  Unfortunately, lots of T-Mobile users are running into serious problems with their phones, with the cause yet to be determined.  T-Mobile’s iPhones have been hit with the blue screen of death.

    The issue seems localized to just T-Mobile iPhones, but it runs across the spectrum of iPhones from the 6 Plus to the 5.  It also hits multiple versions of iOS 8, even the new 8.3.  The issue seems to hit users from anywhere between 10 and 30 minute intervals, meaning there’s a lot of rebooting happening.  Some users have had success shutting off WiFi calling, while others report only a hard reboot will solve the problem.

    Either way, that’s not the best news in the world.  Hopefully it’s something relatively inoffensive, like a malfunctioning app not playing nice with T-Mobile’s network, and not something more troublesome.

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    June 9, 2015
    Apple’s Key Changes For The iPad/iPhone

    Apple has a problem on its hands, and that problem is a lack of updaters.  Lots of product, but no real game-changing thing in the pipeline to pick up where the iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone started.  With lots of popular products on the market, Apple’s looking more to encourage trading up than buying in, and that means you have to give people a reason to trade up.  New iPads don’t grow on trees, and people need a reason to buy a new iPad other than newness.  Here are three crucial changes Apple is making to its iPad and iPhone software in an attempt to goose sales.

    For me, the biggest feature for Apple is probably the updated iPad Air 2 software, which will support dual-booting apps.  No more will users be constrained by just one app at a time; now they’ll be able to play Candy Crush twice as fast!  Or, you know, actually do something productive.  Apple is hoping that this big feature will push laptop users to move to tablets, and push tablet owners to upgrade to a newer version of the tablet they already have.  As it turns out, simply forcing users to update by making certain tablets not work with new operating systems doesn’t work quite like they hoped; users just use their old tablet with its old OS for lack of any real good reason to upgrade (like every desktop owner).

    The other updates–a better version of Siri and more accurate Apple Maps transit options–are good, but not those aren’t going to push people to trade in their old iPad for a newer iPad.  Here’s hoping the bright minds at the Worldwide Developers Conference can come up with other killer features, or Apple might become a victim of its own success.

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    June 1, 2015
    Windows 10 Is Coming, And It’s Going To Be Free

    There’s always a lot of interest around new operating systems, but like a lot of people, I’d never really go to the trouble of upgrading my OS to a new version since, due to the cost, I may as well just throw an extra $200 into the pot and buy a new computer.  That’s a fairly common reaction, but one Microsoft is working hard to correct in its push to get a billion computers running Windows 10 within the next three years.  To counterbalance that in an attempt to maintain its OS hegemony, Microsoft is giving the milk away for free.  Windows is offering free updates to Windows 10 for current owners of its OS.  The upgrading process will be available starting July 29.

    Of course, there’s a catch.  You’ll have a year in which to decide to upgrade.  Most importantly, you have to have Windows 7 or Windows 8 to upgrade.  Still, it’s a free upgrade, and there’s a lot to be said for that, since, y’know, it’s a $119 value if you bought it off the shelf.  Apparently it’s also a pretty good upgrade over the older versions of Windows, and since it’s free and you can choose when to download it and install it, there’s not a lot to lose there aside from all your data on your computer.

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    May 20, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Gatwick Vs Windows

    Via Cory Doctorow on Twitter

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    May 13, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Tool Many Bars

    Via Reddit, of course.

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    March 28, 2015
    What Is USB-C And Why Is It Good?

    There are a lot of different cables and connection devices out there.  USB, mini-USB, micro-USB, Mag-safe, Lightning, and a whole forest of power connectors.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one connector that could do everything?  Well, it looks like there might be something like that just might be found on the back of the latest version of the Apple MacBook.  The future of all connections just might end up being USB-C.  Apple’s getting it first, but it’s going to become the industry standard sooner than later, since it’s the product of the USB consortium and available for use by pretty much anyone.

    So what makes USB-C so good?  Well, we’re talking about one port for all services.  It’s faster than USB 3.0, for one thing.  It’s also able to carry more of a charge, so it will replace your battery connector.  Most importantly, there’ll be no more struggling to figure out which way to plug in the cord, because USB-C has an omnidirectional cord end; and there’s no male or female connectors, so it won’t even matter what side plugs in where!   Pretty cool stuff, right?

    Perhaps the best thing about USB-C is that it’ll be completely open.  If you have a laptop and your friend has a USB-C phone, well… it’ll charge both of your devices, without crossing things up.

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    March 26, 2015
    The End Of The Tablet

    I have a tablet, as I’ve written about many times. It’s not the newest and shiniest tablet on the block, but it’s been dropped and survived, it plays games as well as you please, and it’s a top-notch streaming video device thanks to a great HD screen and Amazon Prime compatibility.  I love my tablet, I’m glad I have a tablet, and I finally talked my parents into getting a tablet too (they’re also very happy).  However, until the battery becomes worthless or I finally drop it once too often, I’m not going to replace it.  First of all, I don’t have the money.  Second of all, my tablet is doing the things I want it to do just fine.  Apparently I’m not alone in that thinking.

    Tablet sales are down, and experts are suggesting we’re hitting a tablet dead end.  After all, there’s no need to upgrade a tablet like you do a computer to run faster/more complex program.  Apps are apps.  Unless you’re Apple and you force older devices into obsolescence, why would you need a new tablet?  Granted, you might want some of the upgrades, but there’s no need to buy a new tablet like you rush out to buy a new smartphone.  The improvements just aren’t usually worth the price, assuming an HD screen.  And if you are considering a new tablet, there are a lot of touch screen options that are just as easy to use and significantly more powerful (ultrabooks, netbooks, convertible computers with touch screens).

    If you’re a tablet owner, what would make you buy a new tablet?  Is there some feature that would make a new tablet a must-have?  I can’t think of one that isn’t created by the manufacturer.

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