Tag Archives: iFixit

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Fight the Burned Out Battery Blues

You’ve had your smartphone a few years, but let’s face it — that battery just ain’t holding a charge like it used to. Lithium-ion batteries do have a limited lifespan and after a certain number of charge cycles, they start to lose their capacity for power.

If your phone isn’t that old, it may not be the battery’s age that’s making you drag out the charger more than once a day. Make sure environmental factors like exposure to cold, power-draining Android or iOS apps or manufacturing problems — like the unexpected shutdown issue with the iPhone 6S — are not the culprit.

However, if you have to face reality and deal with a tired old battery, here are four options to keep your mobile phone mobile and functional:

  1. If you have a smartphone with a removable battery — not an iPhone, obviously — check your phone specs, find an appropriate replacement battery on the web (or at an electronics store) and pop it in yourself.
  1. If you have a sealed battery, consider your options. You could replace it yourself using parts and instructions from iFixit or a similar repair site. This does put your phone at risk is you don’t know what you’re doing, but it can be educational.
  1. You can try an authorized service provider. Best Buy, for example, can fix a lot of gadgets. (Apple even sends people that way if there’s no Apple Store or other authorized provider in the area.) You could also contact the phone’s manufacturer about battery- replacement services. Apple and Samsung are among those who offer a battery swaps for less than $100.
  1. You could punt and get one of those extra-life battery cases like the Mophie Juice Pack, or an external battery to connect to your ailing phone. Not an elegant solution, but you don’t have to crack open the Precious and risk inadvertent damage. You may just feel like Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie when he had to drag around that car battery to stay alive.

Whatever approach you choose, it will hopefully buy you another year or two with your phone until it’s time to upgrade. And then you’ll have a brand new phone with a brand new battery again — and life will be glorious.

PTJ 203 News: Irish Wakeup Call

Nothing like a $14.6 billion bill for back taxes to get your attention, eh? That’s the hefty sum Apple is facing after a European Commission ruling this week found the company’s tax deal with Ireland was illegal under European Union rules. Apple and Ireland are both vowing to appeal the ruling, and in a letter released publicly on its website, Apple stated the ruling would have an impact on investment and job creation in Europe.  The EU is also investigating Amazon and McDonald’s for similar practices.

Apple may have other legal woes brewing on this side of the pond as well. A nationwide class-action lawsuit was filed against the company by plaintiffs who claim that their iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones suffer from defecting screens that make them unresponsive. The defect was dubbed Touch Disease by the repair site iFixit, who has looked at the issue and found hundreds of ailing iPhones with flickering gray bars on glitchy screens.

ifixit

Apple has set the date for its annual Fall Media Monopoly Event. As some predicted, it’ll be early this year — September 7th and at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. New iPhones and an arrival date for iOS 10 are expected to be announced for sure, and updates on macOS Sierra, watchOS, and tvOS could be in the mix, as well as hardware news about Apple Watch, the MacBook Pro laptops, the iPad Pro and other gear. But will there be One More Thing?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California tossed out a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 that accused AT&T of bandwidth-throttling customers who still had unlimited data plans after those customers went beyond customary allowances.

Twitter and Facebook may get more if the hate speech headlines, but Microsoft is stepping up its efforts to smack down the extremists and Troll Legions roaming on own online properties. In a post on one of the company blogs, Microsoft’s Chief Online Safety Officer Jacqueline Beauchere, writes, “Today we’re announcing a new dedicated web form for reporting hate speech on our hosted consumer services, and a separate web form for requests to reconsider and reinstate content.”

hatespeech

Facebook’s Trending Topics section has had its ups and downs this year with charges of political bias in story selection and promotion and last week, Facebook reportedly decided to get rid of the humans who were writing story descriptions for trending list and just have the algorithms start listing popular topics based on what users were sharing. However, a lot of Facebook users were sharing a false story about broadcaster Megyn Kelly getting fired from Fox News for being a liberal — so the fake story made it onto the trending list. Whoopsie!

On to the Department of Democracy Nightmares, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says it has evidence that hackers breached two state election databases this summer. While actual vote-counting systems were not involved YET, foreign-based hackers targeted voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. Paper ballots for all this year, please.

While test drones are buzzing around the countryside of merry old England, here in the States, the Federal Aviation Administration just started giving the drone pilot’s-license test this week. More than 3300 people signed up to take the test on the first day. The Wired site has a study guide for wannabe drone jockeys.

In other drone news, Jennifer Youngman, a 65-year-old woman in rural Virginia, took down a drone in one blast from her 20-gauge shotgun earlier this summer. She lives near the actor Robert Duvall. She also chatted with the CBC about the incident.

bangbanglady

In product news, Sonos and Amazon are hooking up with a new strategic partnership. What this means is that people who own both voice-activated Echo speakers and Sonos sound systems will be able to tell the Echo speaker to play music through the Sonos system.

FitBit announced two new exercise trackers this week, the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Fitbit Flex 2. You can even swin with the Flex 2, they say.

russiaAnd finally, the Centauri Dreams blog devoted to deep space exploration noted a radio telescope in Russia (shown here), had picked up “strong signal in the direction of HD164595” last year. HD 164595 is a star with at least planet in the system within the constellation Hercules, all about 95 light years from Earth. The site merely said the signal was interesting and deserved further scrutiny. Astronomers at the SETI Institute have already written a brief paper on the matter.  Seasoned experts around the web were skeptical, with one noting the signal was on the part of the radio spectrum used by the military and another posting, “It’s not our first time at this rodeo, so we know how it works,” on a SETI message board. Sure, the signal may be nothing — but it kind of makes one want to haul out the Contact DVD for some Hollywood science and reinstall the SETI@home software on your current computer, you know?

Opening shot from Contact (1997) from Single Shot Film Festival on Vimeo.

Episode 58: A Buttload of Geeky Fun

This week El Kaiser explores the Deep (Dark) Web and J.D. has a Hopefully Helpful Hint for Jammers looking to improve their writing skills. In the news researchers hack cars at DefCon; abusive trolls force Twitter to promise the addition of an abuse button in the U.K.; Google debuts new hardware and updates the Zagat restaurant guide; Apple rumors heat up…again; and Netflix will add Klingon and Vulcan subtitles to classic Star Trek film.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Write On

Let’s face it — English was not everyone’s favorite subject in school. Some people loved it, but others found daily classes about grammar rules, spelling, punctuation and all that little type-y stuff as about exciting as watching Windows 95 defrag itself. Sure, voice calls and video chat are modern forms of communication here in the Internet broadband era, but even then, a lot of interaction between people still takes place in written form.

If you feel insecure about your writing and grammar skills — maybe English wasn’t your thing in school or maybe English wasn’t even your first language — there’s help online. Take, for example, new Tech Writing Handbook, courtesy of the gang at iFixit.com.

techwritinghandbook

The Tech Writing Handbook is divided up into 11 chapters and one appendix. The manual guides the reader through the process of writing documentation — starting with research and building from there. The book also discusses adding photographs and other visuals to accompany and enhance your writing. Even if you don’t actually do any writing yourself, the manual is worth a look just for the logical steps it presents on how to explain a topic or task. In exchange for your contact information, you can also download a printable PDF that you can also keep on your tablet for those offline moments.

 

Need more help in wrestling the English language to the ground? Consider:

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab
    Brought to you by the English Department at Purdue University, the main Online Writing Lab page rounds up 200 free resources that cover writing (and teaching writing). You can also find information on research, grammar and mechanics, using style guides and more. You do not have to be a Purdue student to use the site.
  • GrammarBook.com
    Although it’s linked to a $15 offline grammar book, this site is a useful for its explanations of grammatical rules, including punctuation. It also has links to a blog and online videos explaining grammar usage.
  • Grammar Girl
    Need short, friendly tips to help your writing and find answers to questions like, “can I start a sentence with a preposition?” or the whole “who and whom” quandary? Call on Grammar Girl and she’ll help you out.
  • Grammarly Instant Online Grammar Check
    Have something you’ve already written and want it proofread? Grammarly is an online scanner that claims it can find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes. It’s a paid service with fees currently starting at $30 a month, but you can try it free for seven days. If you don’t have a proofreader or copy editor reading behind you, Grammarly could come in handy.

These are just a few of the resources out there. You can find many other sites to help you out, like other grammar guides and online dictionaries — and mobile app versions as well.

Need a break from your studies? Chill out with a little classic Schoolhouse Rock.