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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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    November 13, 2015
    Cell Batteries That Charge 10 Times Faster

    Since I took the plunge and got a smartphone, the thing I miss most about having an old non-smart phone is the battery life.  When I get my phone out and start using it, the battery life just very slowly dissipates with every click of the on-screen icons.  It’s incredible to behold.  I used to get all day on my phone’s charge, even though it wasn’t exactly a useful phone.  Now I have a phone that can do pretty much anything, and it’s got to be charged routinely or it becomes an expensive brick.  That charging process usually means I’m tethered to the wall, but a Chinese phone manufacturer is working on that issue.  Huawei has developed a cell phone battery that charges 10 times faster than current batteries.

    The battery works not by being substantially different from standard batteries mechanically, but by changing how lithium ions are stored and move inside the battery.  In five minutes, the phone charges from dead to 48 percent capacity!  There are other companies working on ways to charge phone batteries wirelessly, and others are working on phones that don’t need charging for up to 7 days.  Maybe if you combine multiple technologies, you can finally solve the biggest problem with modern phones:  battery life!

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    November 4, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Mac Windows

    Via Reddit

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    September 16, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Delivery!

    Via Reddit.

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    September 6, 2015
    Trends From The IFA

    Everyone in the United States knows of CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, where the best and brightest of the technology world gather together in Las Vegas to talk about the trends and tech of the future.  However, there’s a companion piece to that festival of gadgetry in Berlin, Germany, every year.  It’s called the IFA (short for Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, but you won’t need to know that because there won’t be a test) and it’s pretty cool.  For all the technological wonders of the CES, the IFA is actually cooler because it contains stuff that may never make it to the United States.  Here are four trends from this year’s IFA.

    Of the trends, the one I like the least–aside from the lack of availability of cable boxes from people not my provider–is the Internet of things.  I’m sure it’s cool to control your refrigerator from your office or something, but I don’t have Internet bandwidth enough to run any of it.  That’s the most disappointing thing.  I can take or leave a smartwatch, dorky or cool, but I would love to be free from the need for boxes plural on my television stand.

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    August 23, 2015
    Apple Users: Try A Samsung Phone For $1

    It’s scary to buy a new phone.  I recently went through the difficulty of purchasing my own phone, and that choice was troublesome for me.  I had advice, I did research, but at the same time… who wants to be saddled with a dud of a phone for a few years waiting for a contract to expire?  No one.  That’s why smartphone test drives are a great idea, and the world’s leading smartphone company is the one behind it.  iPhone users can test-drive a Samsung smartphone for $1.  That’s right, a month trial of a brand-new smartphone is only a Washington, but there’s a catch.  The smarphone deal is only open for Apple users, who are the most notoriously closed in when it comes to their phones.

    “Apple’s iPhone has a 98 percent plus retention rate,” said Recon Analytics principal analyst Roger Entner.  ”Samsung has to do something to get people to try their device and give it a chance, but a promotion like this is not going to create a major shift in market share, as only people sitting on the fence will take them up on the offer.  The vast majority of Apple iPhone users are very happy with their experience.”

    Samsung had 22 percent of global smartphone sales last year, as compared to 15 percent for Apple.  Of course, Apple only offers a few phone models, while Samsung has recently taken to shrinking their available line to make things a little easier on consumers.  Will this work to win over Apple customers?  Well, maybe not, but at least it’s an attempt.

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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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