Tag Archives: Smartphone

(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 190 News: Hot Topics

Funny how that happens: Facebook has gone from curating Trending Topics to being one itself. Late last week, Gizmodo put up a post about how Facebook handled the actual people — mostly journalists — who were hired to curate the site’s news feeds and how those people were treated. That was last week.

This week, Gizmodo has another post up, as several former Facebook contractors came forward to say they manipulated those news topic feeds by suppressing stories that may have appealed to conservative readers.  All this brought out a statement from Facebook Trending Topics product manager Tom Stocky, and soon, an update from Gizmodo: “Several hours after this report was published, Gizmodo editors started seeing it as a topic in Facebook’s trending section. Gizmodo’s video was posted under the topic but the “Top Posts” were links to RedState.com and the Faith and Freedom Coalition.”

Still, some conservatives are really mad about this and would like to discuss it further. Perhaps in a Congressional hearing.

Amazon continues to branch out. The übermegaeverything store has just launched a new service called Amazon Video Direct that aims to take a bite out of YouTube. Spotify is also diving deeper into the world of video, with execs there telling Bloomberg News it’s making 12 original series as a way to bring in new customers.

camResearchers at Purdue University say they have developed the prototype for a  new system that would allow law enforcement officials and public-safety agencies to tap into the feeds of thousands of cameras used by city and state governments along highways, as well as around national parks, construction sites, parking garages and other public venues. This new system would work with the existing closed-circuit security cameras already available to authorized personnel. The project, dubbed “Analyze Visual Data from Worldwide Network Cameras” won a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Speaking of surveillance, Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope has announced that it’s adding a search tool to find contents, the ability to save broadcasts beyond a 24-hour period and for previously recorded events and support for drones to beam their streams from above.  Also in drone news, a collation of groups that includes the United Parcel Service Foundation, the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and startup drone-maker Zipline are coming together for a project that will be delivering vaccines and other medicine to those who desperately need them in Rwanda. Good job, drones!

googGoogle is ever-experimenting with its products and some observers recently noticed the Search Giant was trying out a new color scheme for its search results page. Google says it likes to experiment.

Apple’s earnings may have been down the other week, but the company is not alone in weaker sales figures. Shipments of personal computers and tablets worldwide were down 13 percent for the first three months of this year, dropping to a level analysts say they haven’t seen since the second quarter of 2011.

The creator the Siri virtual assistant seems to have found a way to pass the time after selling the software to Apple. At the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York this week, developer Dag Kittlaus demoed his new artificial intelligence system called Viv for the crowd and said the new system wants to be “the intelligent interface for everything” and that it could “breathe life into the inanimate objects of our life through conversation.”

The mobile version of the Opera browser is giving a little love to iOS users. The company announced its new, free Opera VPN app that lets its users jump onto a virtual private network to disguise their true locations. Opera VPN also blocks tracking cookies.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission want your mobile device to be safe from malware. Both agencies issued statements this week saying they were looking into security practices and said they’ve sent letters to the major mobile carriers and eight mobile device manufacturers. The letter from the FCC to carriers asks questions about the companies’ process for reviewing and releasing security updates while the FTC asked the mobile device makers to give them a report on how they send out security updates to patch vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 is now running on 300 million active devices and reminds everyone that its free Windows 10 upgrade offer ends this July 29th. For those who spurn the offer now but want to update later, Microsoft said those people can get Windows 10 after July 29 by either paying $119 for it or buying a new machine. So there.

And finally, SpaceX has done it again – this time completing what was called its hottest and fastest landing yet, as it successfully set down one of its reusable rocket boosters on a drone ship at night. Before it happened, SpaceX itself was unsure of the mission’s chances, noting that the landing was “unlikely” — and using a barge called “Of Course I Still Love You” as the booster’s target. However, once the booster nailed it, company founder Elon Musk issued a series of excited tweets, including one that said “Woohoo!” and another that said, “May need to increase the size of rocket storage hanger.” Congratulations again, SpaceX!

PTJ 163 News: No Time Like the Present

Money makes the world go ’round, (also the conservation of angular momentum), and things were really spinning this week. That’s because Dell, maker of computers, has agreed to buy EMC, maker of data storage products, for $67 billion dollars. This, of course, is subject to regulatory approval and may take a year to complete, but if it all goes through, it creates the world’s “largest privately-controlled, integrated technology company.” Boo-yah!

When one thinks “Pepsi,” technology usually doesn’t come to mind unless it’s something like the limited-edition Pepsi Perfect bottles the company first released at New York Comic Con last week to celebrate the year depicted in Back to the Future II and 30 years since the franchise started.

pp

However, the soft-drink company has announced a deal to work with a partner to make Pepsi-branded mobile phones and accessories in China. Pepsi’s not doing the hardware, mind you, just putting its name and logo on the Pepsi P1 phone that’s due out soon.

From the It Was Only A Matter of Time Department: Facebook is testing a shopping section that it says will act as a “single place for people to more easily discover, share, and purchase products.” And also never, ever use any other site besides Facebook.

fbshop

The Hollywood Reporter asks an important question: Does the Future of Television Belong to the Device or the App? The site has a story this week about a new case before the Federal Communications Commission that’s dividing the movie and TV industry and bringing tech companies like Amazon and Google into the fray.

Speaking of control issues, Twitter suspended the accounts for the sports blogs Deadspin and SB Nation over the weekend for posting copyrighted GIFs and video highlights. Deadspin at least had a little fun at the NFL commissioner’s expense when the account was reactivated.

Now, Windows 10 officially came out this summer, but the work is not finished. Microsoft has promised it to make Windows 10 an ever-evolving system and the company just released its Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10565 version this week.

Apple updated its iMac line of desktop computers, bringing faster processors and 4K or 5K displays to the hardware. New input accessories the Magic Keyboard 2, the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Trackpad 2 — now with Force Touch — were also announced.

Experian, one of the bureaus out their keeping tabs on people’s credit, got hacked last week. Brian Krebs, who runs the Krebs on Security blog, has a story about how the bureau’s security practices have lapsed over the past few years due to attrition, dissatisfaction and other factors.

Google Cardboard is expanding internationally. The little fold-together virtual reality viewer that works with your smartphone and a special app is now is available in 39 languages and over 100 countries on both Android and iOS devices.

cardboard

And finally, with The Martian topping the movie box office two weeks in a row and the Red Planet getting lots of press anyway, NASA released a document detailing its next steps in it Journey to Mars project, which it has been working on for some time. It may sound farfetched, but it it took less than ten years from President Kennedy’s call to put a man on the moon to NASA’s Apollo 11 mission making it a reality. And speaking of the Apollo missions, check out the Project Apollo Archive that was recently published on Flickr. Science! It just makes you want to . . . break into song sometimes, doesn’t it?

PTJ 134 News: Clicks and Clacks

meerkatThere’s a ton of news coming out of the SXSW conference down in Austin, Texas, this week, including a new smartphone app called Meerkat that lets its users broadcast live video from their smartphones to their Twitter followers. Part of Meerket’s ease of use was that it can tap into a user’s Twitter contacts and get the party started fast. But last Friday, however, Twitter shut down access to its social graph, citing an internal policy. Twitter may have been treating Meerkat like a parasite app, and the fact that the bird-themed microblogging site quickly turned around and announced its January acquisition of Periscope seems a bit calculated. Some worry that Meerkat’s popularity and expansion will take a fatal hit unless it in turn gets bought by Facebook or Google, but the company’s founders vow to press on after all the PR at SXSW.

It’s March Madness again and we expect time-outs on the basketball court, but the Federal Communications Commission has called a time-out and stopped the clock (again) in the 180-day review periods for the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. This time, the stoppage is due to a pending court decision about the disclosure of video-programming contracts between the service providers and content companies.

HBO’s new standalone streaming service has picked up another distributor along with Apple TV. Cablevision has announced that it, too, will allow subscribers to its Optimum broadband service sign up and stream content from HBO NOW without having to already have an HBO tithe bundled in their TV packages.

NBCBut that’s not all in streaming TV news this week! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is talks to create a small, 25-channel bundle of TV networks that could be subscribed to and streamed across the screens of iOS gadgets and connected Apple TV boxes. Apple, of course, Is. Not. Commenting. As reported, the deal could include streams from ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. While NBC has been MIA on the ATV, there are reports that The Peacock Network is actually in negotiations with Apple,  too.

Apple is also said to be revamping its trade-in and recycling program for old gear to include smartphones made by other manufacturers. The current program offers Apple Store Gift Cardsfor the value of the Apple product you want to unload so you can upgrade. According to the blog 9to5Mac, Apple Store employees will determine the trade-in value for old Android, Blackberry, WinPhone and other competing handsets and even transfer address-book contacts for new iPhone owners.

Facebook has updated its Community Standards policy and is bringing down the ban-hammer on nudity, with the usual non-porn exceptions like “art.” On the other side of the coin, Google is reversing course on its recent decision on adult content. Instead of outright banning sexual images, Google’s updated policy now says you can post your non-commercial naughty bits as long as you turn on the adult content warning for your blog.

Two notes from YouTube this week: The massive video-sharing site now supports interactive 360 degree videos. YouTube also announced its new YouTube for Artists effort, a resource portal for musicians seeking to get more audience engagement, as well as making money on YouTube through merchandise sales and online fundraising.

googlenowGoogle Now, the helpful-yet-creepy tool that automatically reminds you of things like restaurant reservations and flight times by using information in your Gmail, Google Calendar and other services, could be expanding its powers soon. A Google product manager said this week that the company plans to offer an open API that other companies can build into their own apps. This would move Google Now’s reach from beyond the 40 third-party services it works with already and could, in theory, add Google Now cards for things like line-wait times at theme parks, all while making Cortana and Siri feel like they need to step it up.

Google is also said to be tightening up app submissions in the Google Play Store by having a team of reviewers analyze the programs for developer policy violations before the software gets turned loose in the store. Apps will also be labeled using an age-based ratings system.

Nintendo is trying to get back in the game of games. The company has formed a partnership with DeNA to develop games for mobile gadgets and smart devices.

Microsoft has updated its Malicious Software Removal Tool to zap the controversial and security-exploitable Superfish adware that had been preinstalled by Lenovo on many of its new laptops sold between September 2014 and February 2015. Lenovo has also released its own Superfish Removal Tool and probably feels pretty guilty about the whole thing now.

The Pew Research Center has a new report out that examines how Americans feel about their privacy (or lack thereof) after revelations and leaks from the Department of Edward Snowden. While a majority of the survey respondents are in favor of the US government monitoring communications of suspected terrorists, American leaders and foreign leaders and citizens, there was also a majority that said it was unacceptable for the US government to monitor the communications of its own citizens.

hellobarbieChild privacy advocates are forming petitions and making a ruckus over the new Hello Barbie doll, which is a Wi-Fi capable version of the iconic blonde toy lady. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is one of the groups leading the charge against the new doll because it says this $75 Internet-connected Barbie uses a microphone to record children’s voices and then uploads the audio data to servers in the sky. While Mattel says this voice-recognition process is needed to make the doll interactive and respond to the kid, some parents are concerned that the company will be storing and analyzing the child’s conversations with NSA Barbie — or possibly be eavesdropping on the whole family.

And finally, the geek world lost another cherished icon last week with the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, British author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. In honor of Sir Terry, fans and programmers have come up with a way to keep his name alive on the Internet based on a bit from his 2004 novel Going Postal. In the book, the Clacks, a telegraph-style communications system, was used to keep alive the name of one of the novel’s deceased characters by passing the code GNU John Dearheart endlessly back and forth across the network. So the fanbase came up with GNU Terry Pratchett, a snippet of code that can be added harmlessly to website HTML, mail servers and even WordPress blogs. Because:

GNUTP

PTJ 123: More Video Tips and Top 10 Tech News

Happy New Year!

For our last episode of 2014 we bring you part 2 of Jocelyn Gonzales conversation with film professionals Pete Chatmon and Anthony Artis. In this segment the hosts of The Double Down Film Show give more tips on shooting the best mobile video possible.

Here’s a list of some apps and gear they discuss in the segment:

Also on the show J.D. and El Kaiser discuss the top tech stories of 2014 that will likely continue making headlines in 2015.

Thank you all for your continued support and look for more PTJ shenanigans in the new year!

PTJ 83: Hard Knocks and Mystery Rocks

El Kaiser reviews a sexy set of headphones from Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo and J.D. compares top three set-top streaming boxes from Roku, Apple, and Google. In the news, Comcast and Time-Warner Cable look to merge;  the U.S. look present a bill forcing smartphone carriers to include killswitch on hardware; Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors heat up; Kickstarter gets hacked; Facebook adds 40 more gender options; and NASA solves the mystery of the Martian doughnut rock.

PTJ 77: Desert Daze and the Cold Life

We’re refreshed, rested and ready for more shenanigans in 2014!  J.D. gives us some helpful hints for what to do with all those holiday snapshots cluttering up your smartphone. We may be a week into the new year but that doesn’t stop El Kaiser from  revealing what he considers the top Tech Term of 2013.  Lots of news from Las Vegas as the annual international Consumer Electronics Show opened this week. Samsung announces a new line of PRO models of its popular Galaxy Tab tablets; Panasonic announces a 7-inch addition to its Toughpad family of ruggedized tablets; Google partners with several automobile manufacturers to provide infotainment systems for their new car models;  Intel has a new mini-computer called Edison; plus Bluetooth toothbrushes smart TVs and appliances and some fun wearable tech from ThinkGeek.com.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Photo Offloads

Have you ever looked at your phone’s usage settings and realized you don’t have that much room left on it? Unless you’ve got expansion-card options, you’re probably going to want to dump unused apps and other old files to free up space. So what takes up a lot of space on many smartphones today? Photos and videos — especially on newer models with better cameras that take higher-resolution photos and HD video.

Now, some people like to keep a lot of pictures on their phones – it’s the digital equivalent of the plastic wallet sleeve full of kid, family and vacation photos. Still, there are others who don’t need to have a ton of pictures on hand at all times and some people are just too lazy to clear things off, especially if they don’t want to go through deleting images one-by-one to keep the really good stuff.

Need a quick way to deal with gigabytes of photos? Just copy them all to your computer and then whack them from the phone. Once they’re imported to the desktop or laptop, you can lean back and look at a bigger screen as you weed through the images you want to keep and delete the duds. You can keep an archive of the saved photos on the computer, as well as that computer’s backup disc or drive.

imagecaptureJust plug the phone into the computer with the cable it came with and let the computer offer to import them all at once. Most operating systems recognize a smartphone as a camera and then treat it like any other camera with a variation of the same question — “Hey, do you want me to import all these photos and them delete them for you?” Windows does this (even Windows 8), as do photo programs that run on Windows like Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Mac versions of those programs, as well as iPhoto, Image Capture or Aperture do the same thing.

Once you copy all the photos off the phone, you can delete them from the handset and have gigabytes more space to fill up with new photos. From the computer, it’s also pretty easy to upload all your favorites to Flickr or another photo-sharing site — where you can still get to them from your phone, without having to give up local storage space.

If you simply want to keep the photos on the phone but do want keep them backed up, you’ve got plenty of online backup options. For example, Google+ has an auto-backup feature for photos and Apple has iCloud Photo Stream for people with iOS devices. Dropbox has a Camera Upload feature and you can also fine photographer-friendly backup apps like MyShoebox out there.

So remember, if you want to free up space on your phone, check to see how many pictures you’re got squirreled away on there. If your mobile photos number in the hundreds, consider moving them off the phone and to the safety of the computer or online archive. And even if you have plenty of room on your phone, back up your photos anyway. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you lose your phone and the only copies of your favorite mobile snaps, your own vocabulary may suddenly be reduced to a couple of really bad words.

PTJ 76: The Desolation of El Kaiser

This week J.D. helps us deal with holiday travel by sharing tips on making the experience a little easier and Pedro helps us stuff our stockings — and our ears — with a review of two new earphones from RBH Sound and Bowers & Wilkins. In the news Twitter changes its blocking policy but has an immediate change of heart; Facebook rolls out auto-play video ads; Samsung gets set to release its own Android gamepad; Apple announces its iTunes year-end Top Ten; The Museum of Science Fiction is set to open in 2017; and Flash Gordon could be headed for a serious big-screen remake.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hints: Fly the Less-Crabby Skies

Yes, it’s Holiday Travel Season time once again, and that means it’s time for our annual list of tips that can make the experience slightly easier:

  1. Get the app for your airline. You can check in for your flight, get updated gate information, get alerts about delays and even download your electronic boarding pass. United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines are among the major air carriers packing their own apps for the popular mobile platforms. If you’re packing an iPhone, you can usually download your boarding pass to Apple’s Passbook app so it pops up on your lock screen, ready to scan, on the day of your flight.
  2. Check the weather. Winter travel has already proved a little insane due to the Thanksgiving and early December snowstorms this year, so hit up your phone’s app store and download one of the forecast apps that tell you what may be messing up your travel plans — so you can get to work on contingency options.
  3. Track the flight. If you’re on the go or picking up family at the airport, a flight tracker app or mobile site can also come in handy for alerts about delays, cancellations and other news you need on the go. FlightView, FlightAware, FlightTrack and Flight Update are just some of the options and paid versions of some apps also include bonus features like alternate flights and airport maps; check out a few apps here. The free Kayak app can also track flights and maybe even help you find a cheap hotel room near the airport of the weather screws up your plans.
  4. ipadcafeStay charged. When you get to the airport, scope it out thoroughly to find the charging stations for your phone or tablet. And keep in mind, some airlines like Delta are even sprucing up their waiting areas with free loaner iPads to help you pass the time before you fly. As shown here at Terminal D at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, some terminals are even getting high-tech refurb jobs with plenty of charging stations and free loaner iPads that can help you pass the time — and even order a pricey diner breakfast while you wait to board your early-morning flight.

And if you’re looking for easier, the Transportation Security Administration is expanding its TSA Pre✓™ program that lets you keep your shoes, belt and laptop where they were when you left the house. Every little bit helps.

Safe travels to 2014, Pop Tech Jammers.