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Monday, May 21, 2018

Kim's 5 reasons to set up a financial Chromebook By Mark Jones,

Do you have a Chromebook in your arsenal of gadgets? If you don't know, they are similar to a laptop but just a little bit different.

Chromebooks run on a web-based operating system by Google known as Chrome OS. It's specifically built to be used with an internet connection and they are fairly inexpensive.

Most of the apps and documents for a Chromebook are based in the cloud. The great thing is, Google provides 100 GB of cloud storage for free on all Chromebooks for the first two years.

(Note: 100 GB of storage is $1.99 per month or $9.99 for 1 TB per month after the first two years.)
There are many practical reasons to get yourself a Chromebook. One is to use a dedicated Chromebook to take care of your finances. Some of you might be skeptical, asking yourself, why not just buy a laptop?

That's why you need to know Kim's five reasons to set up a financial Chromebook.

1. Conduct your financial business with peace of mind

The best reason to set up a financial Chromebook is for security purposes. Using a Chromebook strictly for the purpose of conducting financial business is a procedure known as "sandboxing."

Sandboxing is a security term that refers to programs that are set aside from other programs in a different environment. This is important in situations where errors or security issues occur. When programs are separated like this, issues will not spread to other areas of your gadget. Programs or files are sequestered in their own area, in the case of Chromebooks, in the cloud.'

Since Chromebooks store everything in the cloud and not on a hard drive, you don't have to live in fear of being infected with a virus. Using Google's Chromebook means you don't have to worry as much about security.

Google has multiple layers of protection built into Chromebooks. Those include:
  • Automatic Updates - Chromebooks are always running the most updated version of the OS, so you don't have to download patches.
  • Sandboxing - Each webpage and application runs in a confined area called a sandbox. If the Chromebook is directed to an infected page, it can't affect the other tabs or apps, or anything else on the machine. The threat is contained.
  • Verified Boot - Chromebook automatically checks for malware when you start it up, and it fixes any problems before it opens.
  • Data Encryption - Most data on Chromebooks are saved to the cloud, but anything saved to the computer is encrypted so it's nearly impossible to be hacked.
  • Recovery Mode - If anything goes wrong, you can simply revert to an earlier version that was safe.
Another reason Chromebooks are secure is its operating system does not allow the installation of traditional apps or programs. This really cuts down the chance of downloading a virus.

To keep your finances secure, only use the Chromebook for financial business. Don't use it to surf the web, check email, shop online, or visit any social media sites.

Also, delete all financial bookmarks that you might have on your old computer and don't forget to clear its history. Once your financial Chromebook is set up, never use another gadget to access your financial accounts.

2. The right gadget at the right price

Another reason to set up a financial Chromebook is the low cost. Laptops can run you over $1,000, which wouldn't be cost effective to exclusively use it for one function.

However, you can pick up a powerful Chromebook for under $200. (Psst! Keep reading and we'll show you a few under $200 Chromebook options.) That makes it the perfect device to have for the sole purpose of conducting financial business.

3. Programs you want with no extra costs

When you're working on your finances, you might want to use some of the programs that come with Microsoft Office. As you know, that can be expensive and not something you want to pay for if you're trying to save some money.

Good news! Chromebook's use the free Google Drive suite for its spreadsheet and word processing functions. Since it's free, you won't have to pay for Office and you can keep some coin in your wallet.

4. Super easy to use

With a portable design and seamless offline transition, Chromebooks make work easy for everyone on the go. It's basically an instant-on gadget.

What I mean is, once you've logged into your Google account, you're ready to go. No long load times and no confusing setup. Just flip it open and get going.

5. Stay charged all day

Chromebooks are known to have extremely long-lasting batteries. In fact, there's a good chance that your Chromebook's battery will last from one charge for most of the day.

The typical Chromebook has up to 10 hours of battery life. That makes it a reliable device to keep track of all your financial business whenever you need it.

Keep reading for a few of our Chromebook picks that you can choose from. They're easy on the wallet so you're sure to love them.

Check out these impressive under $200 Chromebooks

Google created the Chromebook operating system. Then, manufacturers like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung make the gadgets that run Chromebook OS.

So, you have a lot of options when buying one. Of course, when you're paying $200 or so for a Chromebook, you're not getting all the bells and whistles you will with a more costly laptop.

Yet, you can do just about everything on a Chromebook that you would on a more expensive laptop. You'll want to check each Chromebook's specs, though, to compare one to another.

If you're thinking about picking up one of these inexpensive devices, here are a few to look into. These Chromebooks are available for under $200 on Amazon.

HP Chromebook

This HP Chromebook 11 G5 is affordable but still packs a punch. It has an 11.6-inch screen with a sharp LCD display.

It comes with a 16 GB hard drive, 4 GB of RAM, and an Intel Celeron processor with a processing speed of 1.6 GHz. It weighs just 3.9 pounds and runs the Chrome operating system.

You can't go wrong with this HP Chromebook. Order yours from Amazon for under $185 today while you're thinking about it by clicking the link below.

Samsung Chromebook 3

If you're looking to spend even less, this certified refurbished Samsung Chromebook 3 might be perfect for you. It comes with a 90-day warranty, so don't fear the refurbished tag.

This Chromebook has an 11.6-inch display and a 16 GB hard drive with an Intel Celeron processor. The Google Chrome operating system is used and has 4 GB of RAM. Simply click the link below to pick one up today.

Acer CB3

Here's another under $200 Chromebook that will get the job done. Acer's Chromebook CB3 has an 11.6-inch screen that provides sharp images.

It has an Intel Celeron processor and runs the Chrome operating system. This slick gadget has a 16 GB hard drive with 2 GB of RAM. Order yours from Amazon for under $185 by clicking the link below.

5 reasons even smart TV users should own a streaming box By Mark Jones,

"Cutting the cord" is a popular trend, and for good reason. This, of course, is when you get rid of cable or satellite and turn to streaming services for your TV viewing.

There are so many streaming services available these days it's difficult to justify paying nearly $200 per month for cable. These services offer a less expensive way to watch TV that could help you save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

(Bonus: If you don't know which streaming service to use, click here to check out our comparison chart. It will show you which channels are available on each service and help you make the best choice for your family.)

Many people believe all you need to successfully cut the cord is to purchase a smart TV. However, if you're only streaming with smart TV apps you're really missing out on some truly amazing features.
That's why you need to know these 5 reasons smart TV users should own a streaming box.

1. Get more of what you want

The most important reason to own a streaming box is all the extra content that it provides. TV manufacturers have partnerships with content providers like Amazon Video, or Spotify.

That means that certain content available on a Samsung smart TV might not be available on an LG smart TV. You don't want to be limited by your TV and shut out from any content provider.

Streaming boxes typically don't have partnerships like that and content isn't blocked. You always want to have every option available. It just makes for a better experience.

2. Faster is always better

If you own a smart TV, there's a great chance that you've experienced this frustration. I'm talking about trying to use an installed app but having to wait for what seems like forever for it to update.
Depending on your Wi-Fi connection, updating the numerous apps can take hours. This actually happens more than you would think.

Streaming boxes don't have this issue. They typically receive updates in the background and it happens super quickly. Most likely you won't even know it's happening.

3. Better technology that's easier to use

TV manufacturers are great at providing quality picture and the latest television technology. When it comes to the smart TV extras, not so much.

For example, the remote control. Most smart TV's have a basic remote that can be hard to navigate. But streaming boxes come with remotes that are designed to give you the ultimate experience.

With the streaming box remote, you'll most likely have buttons that are dedicated to the most popular apps like Amazon Video and Netflix. Some even come with a headphone jack built-in so you can listen to audio without disturbing others.

4. Extend the life of your TV

If your smart TV is your only streaming source it could become a financial problem. That's because many manufacturers only extend the most recent features and streaming abilities to the previous generation of smart TVs.

If your smart TV is only a few years old but doesn't receive the latest updates, it probably won't function to its utmost potential. This could make you think it's time to replace the television and you know how much that can cost.

There's no reason to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new smart TV when you can simply use a streaming box. It could save you tons of money in the long run.

5. Less clutter

Have you noticed how much useless junkware is found on a smart TV? You'll see tons of extra settings and features that you're never going to use.

That's not the case with streaming boxes. You will have a cleaner, easier to use experience that you're going to love.

Now that you know streaming boxes are the way to go, check out our pick of the latest and greatest model.

4K HDTV Streaming Box

You can watch an unlimited library of TV shows, movies and sports using the SkyStream Media Center, Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV or any of your favorite streaming apps and subscriptions!

This TV streaming box offers you an in-between when cutting the cable. If you want more than local channels but less than cable this is what you are looking for. It comes with an Android operating system so any Android app can be downloaded and used, such as social media and music players like Spotify and Pandora.

It comes with Bluetooth so you can connect a Wireless Keyboard, Speakers or Headphones. You can also connect an Antenna to get local channels. With the fastest processor available and biggest memory storage on the market, there will be no slow streaming. You can turn it on and start watching movies within two minutes.

3 simple tricks for smoother video streaming By Komando Staff,

You're settled comfortably on the couch for a family movie night or a marathon session of your favorite TV series.

Without warning, your relaxing night turns into a nightmare as the streaming internet video keeps pausing to buffer, or the image keeps alternating between clear and blurry. It's almost enough to make you go running back to cable.

Of course, you don't want to do that. With cable, you end up paying a fortune each month for a bunch of channels and shows you never watch. Plus, you can't watch what you want on demand.

Fortunately, I can help you fix your video streaming problems so cable can stay a distant memory.

1. Check your Wi-Fi

The majority of streaming video gadgets, smart TVs, tablets and laptops connect to the internet via your Wi-Fi network. That's great for avoiding cables cluttering up your living room, but Wi-Fi isn't always the most reliable connection.

Signal interference and too much traffic on the network can slow it down. That leaves your streaming gadget unable to give you full-video quality, which leads to buffering or a lousy picture. Find out how to speed up your Wi-Fi for faster downloads and smoother video.

While you're thinking about your router, you should also think about the last time you bought a new one. An old 802.11g router, and even an early single-band (2.4Ghz) 802.11n router, is going to struggle with video.

If you're constantly losing your wireless signal, experiencing slow streaming video with constant buffering, or have to wait longer than usual for webpages to load, there's a good chance your router is having trouble keeping up with your networking demands.

It may be time to upgrade your router that's compatible with the newer standards.

Newer Wi-Fi standards mean better features. "AC" routers are a step up from the older "B" and "G" models and even "N" models. They have more features and offer better performance. If you’re shopping for a new router, that’s what you want to look for. Click here for the best wireless routers that can boost your speeds and performance.

You should also check to see if your router has a system to prioritize network traffic you can turn on. Some routers call this QoS (Quality of Service). With this feature, you could set time-sensitive activties like streaming media to have higher priority over other types of activity.

If you have a limited internet connection, and a number of people using it, this prioritization can mean the difference between solid video quality and flinging the remote in frustration.

2. Ditch the Wi-Fi

Not every Wi-Fi problem can be solved with an upgrade. Maybe you can't do away with interference between the router and your streaming gadget. Perhaps you have a lot of people in the house, and the Wi-Fi is always in heavy use. Maybe your streaming gadget is older and doesn't support the latest Wi-Fi standards.

If you really want to clear things up, connect your streaming gadget directly to your router with an Ethernet cable. This removes any possible environmental interference, and gives you consistent speed.

The only downside is running the cable long distances around your house. Fortunately, even a 50-foot Cat 6 networking cable should set you back less than $20.

Of course, not every gadget is going to have an Ethernet port. For example, tablets don't, streaming sticks don't and neither do the cheaper Roku models. However, higher-end streaming units, video game consoles and most Smart TVs will.

3. Talk to your ISP

What happens if you upgrade your Wi-Fi, or plug your streaming gadget into your router, and your video streaming quality hasn't improved? It's time to talk to your internet service provider.

Even if you're paying for fast internet, you might not be getting it. Fire up a site Netflix's own free tool and see what kind of speed you're really getting.

You might discover there's a problem with your connection. Maybe you need to get a new cable modem that takes advantage of your ISP's latest network upgrades. Find out if your cable modem is the fastest money can buy.

Some ISPs also don't stream video that well, or even throttle video to reduce the load on the network. Netflix, being one of the largest video streaming services in existence, keeps close tabs on how well ISPs stream its video. Visit Netflix's ISP Speed Index site to see how your ISP's Netflix speeds fare against other providers.

Thankfully, it looks like ISPs are ramping up their Netflix sppeds. Anything below 3Mbps isn't going to give you full video quality. And even these are averages, so you could see less with any of these services.

Talk to your provider and see what's up. You might find the problem "magically" solved once you bring it to its attention. Or maybe there really is a problem with your connection that can be fixed. It never hurts to ask.

Windows vs Mac vs Chrome By Kevin Downey,

You've had a question on your mind for years, maybe even decades. It began long ago when a hardcore group of computer users ditched the standard-bearer for PCs and laptops, in favor of a decidedly cooler operating system (OS).

That question used to be: Which is the better OS, Microsoft Windows or Apple's MacOS (previously OS X)? Now, it's even trickier: Windows or MacOS or Google's Chrome OS?

The good news is, there is an obvious OS for your family and you. It just depends on how you're using your PC, laptop or tablet.

Let's start with Microsoft's Windows since it's in about 90 percent of computers. That doesn't mean it's the best OS for you, but it's worth a look.

Windows 10

You have an impression of Microsoft and Windows if you've been using PCs and laptops for more than a few years. For instance, if you work on a Windows PC every day, it's like riding a bike.

You know what to do from the minute your turn on your computer to the minute you shut it down. You know where to find folders and files and you know how to use its newest features, no matter what those happen to be at the moment.

These days, you have good reason to stick with Windows. After a years-long slide into oblivion in the 1990s and 2000s, Microsoft radically overhauled Windows to Windows 10 about three years ago.

It's easier to use, faster and more secure than past versions of Windows. More to the point, Windows 10 outshines MacOS and Chrome OS on a number of fronts.

For starters, Windows 10 has a lot of updates - about two a year. Microsoft has been rolling out significant improvements and features, like TimeLine, with each new version.

Apple's Mac OS and Google's Chrome OS have a sluggish update schedule, by comparison. Windows 10 has a few other advantages.

Windows 10 works with just about every non-Apple PC, laptop and tablet that's currently available. Over the years, Microsoft and other companies have developed countless software programs, including games.

If you use Windows 10 at work, you know that it's designed for business people and students with programs that are as relevant in 2018 as they were decades ago. If you use Word or Excel, you know there are very few suitable replacements.


Long before Apple took over the smartphone business with iPhones, it had a loyal, but comparatively small fan base. People have always loved MacOS for a few reasons, which continue today.

Macs are arguably the most secure computers and they're easy to use. That's especially true for first-time computer users.

Mac OS isn't nearly as bogged down as Windows 10 with countless layers of files and folders. Macs also have far fewer software options, but that has given Apple the chance to excel at the ones it does have, notably anything related to design and graphics.

Of course, Apple has a few downsides that span all its products. First, only Apple makes hardware to work with MacOS, so there are limits on what you can use it for - notably, there's a dearth of games.

Second, Macs tend to be expensive compared to Windows- and Chrome-based computers. You probably know that you'd be hard-pressed to buy a MacOS computer for $300 or less.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS, in sharp contrast to MacOS, runs on low-cost computers. These are few-frills laptops that you'll most often use to access the internet and internet-based software for business people and students, like Google Docs.

You can easily find a Chromebook for less than $300 - many cost less than $200. And these are often high-quality, user-friendly laptops and 2-in-1 laptops that can also be used as a touchscreen tablet.

You won't have much storage or many software programs with Chrome OS. But who cares?

If you don't need to work with a specific type of software, and you can use an internet-based alternative, Chrome OS may be a great option for your family. They're easy to use and they're inexpensive.

Chrome OS also has solid, built-in security features. Plus, you can download Android apps on it to get a lot more functionality.

If you're using a laptop mostly to watch videos, like on Netflix and YouTube, or to chat on sites like Facebook or Snapchat, Chrome OS is ideal. It may be the better option for you than Windows OS or MacOS.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Windows 10 April 2018 Update: Terrible name, sweet upgrade by David Pogue

   Windows 10 Update by David Pogue on Scribd

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What's coming to Netflix in May By Adam Green,

As we get closer and closer to summer, temperatures all over will continue to rise. In many places, that means time spent outside will be lessened in favor of indoor activities because air conditioning is a wonderful thing.

While basking in the cool air technology provides, a great way to pass the time is to catch up on everything Netflix. Just as sure as May will replace April on the calendar, the streaming service's lineup will also change.

What is on the way and what is heading out?

First, here's what's coming:

Coco (2017)

Every now and then a movie comes along that just tugs at everyone's heart strings. "Coco," by Disney Pixar, was one of them. It also tugs at guitar strings, as the story follows a young boy, Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who feels like he is destined to play music but is part of a family who has banned music from their lives.

Not willing to settle for that, he goes on a mysterious journey that leads him to the Land of the Dead, where he sets out to find his great-great grandfather, the greatest musician in the history of Mexico. He meets many skeletal dead people along the way, including a man named Hector (voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal) who tries to help Miguel reach his grandfather.

Along the way, Miguel learns more about his family than he ever imagined in this critically acclaimed film, which earned a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average grade of 8.2 out of 10.

Cargo (Netflix Original)

What wouldn't a father do for his child? That's the backdrop of "Cargo," which follows a father (played by Martin Freeman) who is trying to get his baby daughter to safety in a world that has been ravaged by a zombie apocalypse. Worse, the father, Andy, was infected and will at some point in the future turn into a zombie himself.

But before that happens, he sets out to bring his daughter to safety, wherever that may be in the Australian outback. In the process he comes across many different people, some of whose intentions are hardly pure.

In all, this feature-length version of a short with the same name, is more than anything, a story about humanity and the human connection, as a world where you can't trust people -- even when you most need to -- is one that makes things very, very difficult.

Shrek (2001)

If you are looking for a laugh, this movie is for you. "Shrek," which came out in 2001, is one of those rare animated comedies that can really appeal to all generations.

A star-studded cast that includes Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and John Lithgow helped to tell the tale of an ogre who was able to find love in the most unlikeliest of places. With a unique way of poking fun at all sorts of popular fairy tales and stories, this movie provides laugh after laugh after laugh.

Shrek was so popular it spawned multiple sequels, all of which were also funny (but none of which are currently on Netflix). At least you can watch the movie that started it all.

Other highlights:

That's not all, of course. Other notable newcomers include "The 40-year-old Virgin" and "Scream 2," a pair of sequels that could not be more different in terms of what types of movies they are.

Another Netflix Original, "The Rain," is a Danish film about life after a rain-born virus wipes out most of the population. It follows a pair of young siblings who try to survive as they continue to look for safety.

New seasons of "Bill Nye Saves the World," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" will also drop in May.

Here's what else is arriving in May

May 1
  • 27: Gone Too Soon
  •  A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana
  • Amelie
  • Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Darc
  • God's Own Country
  • Hachi: A Dog's Tale
  • Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year
  • John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City (Netflix Original)
  • Mr. Woodcock
  • My Perfect Romance
  • Pocoyo & Cars
  • Pocoyo & The Space Circus
  • Queens of Comedy: Season 1
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Red Dragon
  • Scream 2
  • Shrek
  • Simon: Season 1
  • Sliding Doors
  • Sometimes (Netflix Original)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Carter Effect
  • The Clapper
  • The Reaping
  • The Strange Name Movie
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2
May 2
  • Jailbreak
May 4
  • A Little Help with Carol Burnett (Netflix Original)
  • Anon (Netflix Original)
  • Busted!: Season 1 (Netflix Original)
  • Dear White People: Volume 2 (Netflix Original)
  • End Game (Netflix Original)
  • Forgive Us Our Debts (Netflix Original)
  • Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo
  • Manhunt (Netflix Original)
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey (Netflix Original)
  • No Estoy Loca
  • The Rain: Season 1 (Netflix Original)
May 5
  • Faces Places
May 6
  • The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (Streaming every Sunday - Season 1 Finale on May 13) (Netflix Original)
May 8 
  • Desolation
  • Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives (Netflix Original)
May 9
  • Dirty Girl
May 11
  • Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3 (Netflix Original)
  • Evil Genius: the True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist (Netflix Original)
  • Spirit Riding Free: Season 5 (Netflix Original)
  • The Kissing Booth (Netflix Original)
  • The Who Was? Show: Season 1 (Netflix Original)
May 13
  • Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (Netflix Original)
May 14
  • The Phantom of the Opera
May 15
  • Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Season 4
  • Grand Designs: Seasons 13 - 14
  • Only God Forgives
  • The Game 365: Seasons 15 - 16
May 16
  • 89
  • Mamma Mia!
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  • The Kingdom
  • Wanted
May 18
  • Cargo (Netflix Original)
  • Catching Feelings (Netflix Original)
  • Inspector Gadget: Season 4 (Netflix Original)
May 19
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • Disney’s Scandal: Season 7
  • Small Town Crime
May 20
  • Some Kind of Beautiful
May 21
  • Señora Acero: Season 4
May 22
  • Mob Psycho 100: Season 1 (Netflix Original)
  • Shooter: Season 2
  • Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Tig Notaro Happy To Be Here (Netflix Original)
May 23
  • Explained (Netflix Original)
May 24
  • Fauda: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Survivors Guide to Prison
May 25
  • Ibiza (Netflix Original)
  • Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (Netflix Original)
  • The Toys That Made Us: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Trollhunters: Part 3 (Netflix Original)
May 26
  • Sara's Notebook (Netflix Original)
May 27
  • The Break with Michelle Wolf (Netflix Original)
May 29
  • Coco
May 30
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 (Netflix Original)
May 31
  • Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern (Netflix Original)

Here is what's leaving Netflix in May

May 1
  • Bridget Jones's Diary
  • Casper
  • Chappie
  • Charlotte's Web
  • Field of Dreams
  • GoodFellas
  • Ocean's Eleven
  • Sahara
  • Silent Hill
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  • The Hurt Locker
  • To Rome With Love
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
May 2
  • 12 Dates of Christmas
  • Beauty & the Briefcase
  • Cadet Kelly
  • Camp Rock
  • Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
  • Cow Belles
  • Cyberbully
  • Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
  • Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
  • Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
  • Frenemies
  • Geek Charming
  • Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas
  • Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
  • High School Musical
  • High School Musical 2
  • Jump In!
  • Lemonade Mouth
  • Little Einsteins: Seasons 1 - 2
  • My Fake Fiancé
  • Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
  • Phineas and Ferb: Seasons 1 - 4
  • Princess Protection Program
  • Princess: A Modern Fairytale
  • Read It and Weep
  • Revenge of the Bridesmaids
  • Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure
  • Special Agent Oso: Seasons 1 - 2
  • StarStruck
  • Teen Spirit
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Seasons 1 - 5
  • Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
May 7
  • The Host
May 12
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
May 30
  • Disney’s The Jungle Book

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wi-Fi gets quicker with 802.11ax, but buying early might offer few advantages By Glenn Fleishman

Wi-Fi networking is poised for a major update: The transition from 802.11ac to 802.11ax promises a modern networking hub that can cope with the burgeoning number and diversity of wireless devices that need access to your broadband connection.

At the dawn of the modern smartphone era in 2007, even a highly unplugged home might have only a handful of hardware connecting to its wireless router. Now—if you use tablets, smart-home devices, media streamers, smart TVs, gaming gear and security cameras—you could have 20, 30, or many more. And that number won’t get smaller in the future.

With 802.11ax, the IEEE engineering group that drives standards like wireless local area networking (WLAN) has pushed hard in several directions to make these complicated environments work. There are a lot of benefits for dense corporate networks that need massive throughput and could have tens of thousands of roaming and fixed Wi-Fi clients, but there’s no shortage of upsides for home users or small offices, especially when it comes to video streaming and file transfers.
intel 11ax path graphic Intel
802.11ax enables large numbers of clients on a home Wi-Fi network to operate simultaneously without degrading video-streaming and other devices that require lots of bandwidth.
Corporations also control the wireless networks in their buildings and throughout their campuses, while home users and small businesses can face several to dozens of networks within radio earshot.

Several techniques in 802.11ax will reduce the effects of interference and increase throughput in crowded urban and suburban environments, reducing typical frustrations that are hard to troubleshoot or fix.

The standard hasn’t been completed yet, but manufacturers are jumping the gun as they have with every new flavor of Wi-Fi for more 15 years. As a result, some equipment could be on the market as early as June, and more is coming later in the year. But the advantages of being an early adopter might pale in favor of waiting for a fully baked version that’s stable and is supported by the client adapters onboard phones, laptops, and other gear.
Table of Contents

How 802.11ax makes gains

To explain the advantages of 802.11ax, we must drill down briefly to review how Wi-Fi works. The airwaves are regulated nearly everywhere in the world, and in the U.S. and in most countries, two chunks of frequencies are allotted to uses compatible with Wi-Fi: the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band and the 5GHz band. These bands are further divided into channels that have a set starting and ending frequency.

Senders and receivers, like a Wi-Fi router and laptop, agree to use the same channel to communicate back and forth, and dozens (or even hundreds) of devices can use the same channel at the same time to relay data via an access point. In cities and suburbs, dozens to hundreds of networks might also be contending for the same channel in relatively close proximity.

Way back in 1999, the 802.11a standard for 5GHz and 802.11b for 2.4GHz started the WLAN revolution, offering data rates of 54- and 11Mbps, respectively. These rates were always the maximum possible and included network overhead, so devices saw often 40- to 90-percent less throughput.
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Wi-Fi advanced through 802.11g (2.4GHz), 802.11n (2.4GHz and 5GHz), and two releases of 802.11ac (5GHz) Wave 1 and Wave 2. The 802.11ax standard improves performance in both spectrum bands, and will deliver potentially several gigabits per second of throughput to dozens of devices at once on a single channel. That’s incredibly helpful if you’re streaming compressed HD and 4K HDR video or transferring multi-gigabyte files around a network. An increasing number of people worldwide have 100Mbps to 1Gbps broadband connections, which can be constrained by slower Wi-Fi networks.
dlinkax6000 2 D-Link
D-Link's AX6000 will be one of the first 802.11ax routers to hit the market.
Each successive update to Wi-Fi has pushed data rates higher, but 802.11ax offers a huge boost by adding several varied techniques, each of which adds a unique advantage. Taken together, the maximum raw data rate across an 802.11ax base station (e.g., a Wi-Fi router) could be a whopping 14Gbps compared to just 3.5Gbps for the best similarly configured 802.11ac router. In practice, you will never see that maximum potential speed, but 802.11ax is still poised to offer multiple times the rates of 802.11ac, and will better meet solid requirements for video with many people streaming or transferring files at once.

Here’s a top-level rundown of how 802.11ax pulls this off:

Denser data encoding 

Wi-Fi encodes data into radio waves, and there are calculable limits to how much data can be carried at a given frequency. WLAN standards, however, are still working toward that upper maximum. Over time, the chips that process signals have become more powerful, allowing more efficient cramming of data into the same space, especially over very short distances between a base station and a receiving device, typically in the same room and with line of sight, which is perfect for video streaming.
multuser ofdma National Instruments
OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) allows mingling data for different receiving devices across transmissions, like packing a truck full by combining palettes of boxes intended for different recipients.
802.11ac started down this path, allowing encodings with 33 percent more data than 802.11n; 802.11ax bumps that up another 25 percent. As an analogy, consider egg cartons made up of squares with an inset circle for eggs, arranged in rows and columns. Now, replace the square with a hexagonal grid with less cardboard between each egg. That might result in more broken eggs, just at these densely packed wireless signals can suffer some loss via error, but you typically wind up with many more eggs.

Adding 2.4GHz back into the mix

The 2.4GHz band is often given shorter shrift, because it’s crowded full of other so-called unlicensed uses that rely on wireless data—like baby monitors, wireless doorbells, cordless phones, and the like—that don’t play well with high-speed Wi-Fi networks. Many of those non-Wi-Fi uses have shifted to other bands or now rely on Wi-Fi. 802.11ax is the first standard in more than a decade that improves performance in 2.4GHz, which opens up as many as gigabits per second more data while also taking advantage of that band’s long wavelengths compared to 5GHz: longer wavelengths better penetrate solids objects, like walls, floors, and furniture.

This is especially useful for mesh networks, in which current mesh nodes typically have two radios, one for 2.4GHz and one for 5GHz, one of which is used to communicate among nodes. With much higher data rates on the better-penetrating 2.4GHz band, mesh networking with 802.11ax will result in better throughput across a whole network.

Talking and listening to multiple devices at once

The 802.11n standard added a spatial multiplexing technology known as MIMO (multiple in, multiple out). MIMO is a means of sending multiple streams of data across different physical paths, like playing billiards with radio waves. This required multiple sending and receiving antennas and the equivalent of additional radios for each stream. But many devices, especially small mobile and smart-home units, didn’t have multiple radios. A wireless router with MIMO thus wastes much of its potential bandwidth at any given time when it’s constrained to a single stream.
MU-MIMO National Instruments
MU-MIMO allows Wi-Fi routers and access points to communicate simultaneously with multiple devices, reducing wasted parts of transmissions.
Starting with 802.11ac, routers gained the ability to talk simultaneously with different devices at the same time (multiple-user or MU-MIMO), improving efficiency. In 802.11ax, client devices can now also respond simultaneously. That’s extremely helpful for streaming media players, allowing more reliable audio and video playback to first pass from the player to the router, and then from the router to your viewing or listening device (e.g., your smart TV, media streamer, smartphone, or digital audio player). 802.11ax also doubles the number of possible streams from four to eight, but that feature is likely to be seen only on expensive enterprise equipment, not home devices.


Borrowing a trick from 4G LTE and a few earlier standards, 802.11ax adds a way to break a Wi-Fi channel down into as many as a couple thousand tightly spaced “subcarriers” or subchannels. Each of these subchannels can carry various combined payloads of data for different devices, and interference or noise in one subchannel is isolated from the rest, reducing the need to retransmit or slow down the entire conversation to a lower data rate that can be received clearly. (This tech is called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access or OFDMA.)
qualcomm 11ax 1 Qualcomm
You could think of data traveling over your Wi-Fi network as if it were the cargo carried by big rigs. In some of the earlier Wi-Fi standards, each truck could carry only one type of cargo, even if the truck was only partially full.
You might think of this as the difference between having one giant truck with a single large packing container inside occupying an entire highway, and many smaller trucks with very thin dividers between lanes carrying a variety of boxes traveling on the same highway. Analysts and manufacturers say that in the right circumstances, OFDMA could allow four times the throughput as with current networks.
qualcomm 11ax 2 Qualcomm
Continuing with the big-rig analogy above, the 802.11ax standard allows each big rig to carry different types of cargo so that all of its capacity can be utilized

Better discrimination of other networks

In many cities and suburbs, dozens to hundreds of Wi-Fi networks overlap. 802.11ax includes a technique that will let the standard discriminate between the network you’re on and weakly received signals from other networks, which in turn allows greater throughput.

A host of smaller technical improvements

While the elements above might seem technical enough, a number of other small improvements add up, including letting 802.11ax break up data for a single destination into different sized chunks to fit into available slots, using longer runs of encoded data, and better focusing energy for “beamforming” to target receiving devices more exactly. 802.11ax is also better at avoiding conflicts where devices talk over one another, called contention.

Improved client battery performance

Here’s one more bonus that’s not related to speed: Various mobile-targeted improvements, including one that tells network client devices that put their Wi-Fi radios to sleep to conserve power when exactly to wake them up. This could dramatically reduce Wi-Fi-related power consumption, extending battery life.

The risks for early adopters

While the standard is still under development at the IEEE task group, some manufacturers are prepping for the near-term release of Wi-Fi routers that will be labeled 802.11ax, even though they’re using a preliminary version of the spec as interpreted by a single manufacturer or chipmaker. D-Link and Asus announced routers at CES in January, and as chipmakers get close to finalizing 802.11ax chipsets, we’ll see more manufacturers start to make their plans.
asus rt ax88u Asus
Asus intends to be early to the 802.11ax router market with its RT-AX88U Wi-Fi router.
Buying early could come with a cost. With the last few rounds of standards, changes were significant but constrained, and few routers had issues with obtaining updates to bring them into full compliance. 802.11ax, however, has so many substantive improvements and differences that it’s possible early routers won’t be as robust and compliant as ones created using later generations of chips.

Manufacturers and chipmakers sit on the IEEE committee making decisions and are part of the Wi-Fi Alliance that certifies products as interoperable, but it’s still a risk.

Few of 802.11ax’s advantages can accrue without new client adapters in phones, tablets, computers, and other devices, and those always come more slowly as new generations of equipment are introduced. While 2019 will likely be the year that 802.11ax starts to appear in hundreds of millions of new devices, it will still easily be two or three years before you have enough new equipment to take full advantage of the new technology.

Backward compatibility is always a concern for new generations of hardware, but the history of Wi-Fi has largely encompassed all previous standards without too much compromise. Routers that declare themselves as supporting 802.11ax will also seamlessly handle every previous 802.11 standard, typically back to 802.11g, the first version to support more modern network security methods. With few exceptions, you can keep using all the devices you used in the past.

You won’t need to configure anything special to enable backwards compatibility, although some routers may have modes you can turn on that disable older forms of Wi-Fi. Compatibility comes with an overhead cost, and turning off older modes can boost performance somewhat.

This story, "Wi-Fi gets quicker with 802.11ax, but buying early might offer few advantages" was originally published by PCWorld.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

13-inch MacBook Pro battery replacement program FAQ: What it is and how to use it By Michael Simon

It’s been a rough year for Apple’s batteries. After announcing a program to replace batteries in the iPhone 6 and 7 earlier this year, Apple has now launched a program to swap them out in the 13-inch non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro (affectionately known as the “MacBook Pro ESC” due to the presence of actual function keys). So if you have a laptop that’s been dying out mid-way through your day or just noticed some performance oddities, you might be able to get your battery replaced with a new one. Here’s everything you need to know about the new program:

What’s the reason for the program?

Apple has said that a component inside “a limited number” of 13-inch MacBook Pro units could fail, “causing the built-in battery to expand.” Apple did not specify which component was faulty or how it affects the battery.

That sounds bad. Is my laptop at risk?

Nope. While expanding batteries generally pose of risk of fire or explosion, Apple assures that this isn’t a safety issue.

What models are included?

A pretty small amount actually. First, only non-Touch Bar models manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017 are affected. And among that group, only some of the units manufactured during that time are affected by the issue.

How do I know if my MacBook is eligible?

You can check your serial number on Apple’s site here.

How do I find my serial number?

Click on the Apple logo at the top left of the menu bar and go to About this Mac. You’ll see your serial number in the window that appears. From there, you can copy it and paste it into the search bar on the support page.
macbook pro find serial number IDG
You can find your MacBook Pro’s serial number in the About This Mac dialoge box. Don’t worry, yours will be legible.

OK, my MacBook is one of the affected units. Now what?

You’ll need to take it in far repair in one of three ways:
  • Make an appointment at an Apple Store.
  • Make an appointment at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. You can find a list of service providers in your area on Apple’s support site.
  • Mail your MacBook to the Apple Repair Center.
As always, make sure to back up your data before sending your MacBook in for repairs.
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How long will it take?

Since the program is limited, wait times shouldn’t be nearly as long as they are with some iPhone 6 models. Apple estimates service time is 3 to 5 days, though it could be longer depending on the availability of batteries.

How much will it cost?

Nothing. However, Apple notes that if there is prior damage to your MacBook that “impairs the replacement of the battery,” the service technician may need to fix that problem first, resulting in a possible charge.

Will my warranty be extended?

Unfortunately, no.

How much time do I have to get it fixed?

Apple hasn’t put a specific expiration date on the program, but it does say that the program covers affected MacBook Pro models for five years after the first retail sale of the unit. So that means Apple will replace batteries until sometime in 2022.

QLED vs. OLED TV: Similar names, totally different technologies By Gabriella Didio,

Wondering which TV is right for you? While LG’s OLED and Samsung’s QLED may sound very similar, there are major differences at the core level.

OLED, which stands for “organic light emitting diodes,” is the top choice for most people. Its technology replaced the need for backlights - which are the lights that shine behind the LCD screen to illuminate them. With OLED, the LED bulbs emit light that creates the picture.

On the other hand, QLED stands for “Quantum Dot LED,” and can be compared to an LCD TV because it uses a backlight. When light reflects onto the quantum dots, they emit light. They also produce a more undiluted light than LEDs. TV experts may roll their eyes at the use of a backlight. But, if you’re in the market for a new TV, here’s what both of them have to offer.


As new technologies hit the marketplace, they are priced at a premium. In time, these electronics become more accessible to the public and the price begins to drop. Today, OLED TVs are pricey but cheaper than when they first debuted. You can purchase an LG 55-inch 2017 OLED B7 and C7 for under $2,000. If you are after a steal, the QLED is the friendlier option for your wallet.

Image Quality

When TV shopping, most of us focus on two things: image quality and the black levels or brightness. The OLED outperforms the QLED because it delivers images with a deeper black tone. The QLED advertises that it has stronger colors than the OLED on screen. While the color may be brighter, the drawback is that when critics tested the Samsung Q7 QLED - especially with HDR material- it underperformed OLED.


OLED and QLED TVs come with added features that can enhance your viewing experience. The LG OLED has Dolby Atmos and DTS Audio. These features create the feeling of surround sound. Four types of high dynamic range are offered: Technicolor, HLG, Dolby vision and HDR 10. And the Alpha 9 Processor creates high-quality images with less movement when the images are not moving.
Samsung QLED features include Ambient mode, which disguises large displays and blends seamlessly into the wall behind it. Also, rather than having the HDMI and USB Ports built into the TV itself, Samsung keeps them in a separate box and then they are connected to the TV through a slim chord. This design element is great for those who want a cleaner and sleeker look to their TV. HDR10+ and HDR Elite create a good picture quality.

Size and Viewing Angle

The OLED can be purchased with a screen size of up to 88 inches. The LCD screen operates with less limitation. So, you can find a wider array of screen sizes with the QLED. The QLED offers screens of up to 100 inches. But, the more aesthetic-centric user will love the thin size of the OLED TV. It’s also lighter and uses less power than the QLED.

The viewing angle refers to how the picture quality remains when you watch the TV from another spot in the room. LG is tough to beat because its IPS Panel has an accurate viewing angle that keeps its picture quality and color.

You can capture the best picture when you sit directly in front of the QLED. But, Samsung has added an updated panel design and anti-reflexive coating to its top of the line models. These two features make up for the dwindled richness and difference in color.

When purchasing your new TV keep these tips in mind, and check back for updates.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Atlanta spent at least $2.6 million on ransomware recovery By Zack Whittaker for Zero Day

Atlanta spent more than $2.6 million on recovery efforts stemming from a ransomware attack, which crippled a sizable part of the city's online services.

The city was hit by the notorious SamSam ransomware, which exploits a deserialization vulnerability in Java-based servers. The ransom was set at around $55,000 worth of bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency that in recent weeks has wildy fluctated in price.

But it's understood that the ransom was never paid -- because the portal used to pay the ransom (even if the city wanted to) was pulled offline by the ransomware attacker.

According to newly published emergency procurement figures, the city spent around 50 times that amount in response to the cyberattack.

Between March 22 and April 2, the city spent $2,667,328 in incident response, recovery, and crisis management. (Hat tip to Ryan Naraine for tweeting out the link.)

Among the costs, Atlanta spent $650,000 on hiring local security firm Secureworks for emergency incident repsonse services, and an additional $600,000 on advisory services from Ernst & Young for cyber incident response.

The city also spent $50,000 to hire Edelman, a public relations firm specializing in crisis response management -- in other words, trying to make things look less bad than they actually are.

When reached, a spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to several questions we had. If that changes, we'll update.

Last month we reported that Atlanta narrowly missed out falling victim to another cyberattack in 2016, when the now-infamous WannaCry ransomware attack spread across the globe.

Speaking to ZDNet at the time, Jake Williams, founder of cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec, said that the city's networks were left unpatched for weeks -- making them vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

He found that at least five internet-facing city servers were infected with the NSA-developed DoublePulsar backdoor in late April to early May 2017. That was more than a month after Microsoft released critical patches for the exploits and urged users to install.

Based on his data, he said that the city "had a substandard security posture" at the time.

7 awesome things you forgot your Mac could do by Francis Navarro,

Do you own a Mac computer? You probably know that Apple's feature set for its macOS always grows steadily with every update, adding functions and options that make our computing lives so much more convenient and efficient.

As such, there are features that you may have missed but could make a big difference in your everyday tasks. From text messages and printer sharing to sending files instantly, there's probably that little essential option that you haven't used but it's there all along. You just need to look at the right place!

Here are seven great features that you may or may not know that your Mac can do.

1. Send and receive texts on your Mac

Apple's iMessage has long allowed you to message other iPhone users from the iMessage app on your Mac but you can also send and receive any kind of SMS text messages right from your Mac. So when friends text you, regardless of what brand of phone they are using, you can now read and reply from your Mac as well as your iPhone.

All the messages that appear on your iPhone now show up on your Mac, too, so your conversation is up to date on all your devices. You can also start an SMS or iMessage conversation on your Mac just by clicking a phone number in Safari, Contacts, Calendar, or Spotlight. Group chats are now enabled, as well. Click Details to name a group chat, add or remove someone, and see friends who’ve shared their location on a map.

Just sign into your Mac with the same iMessage account that also has your phone number linked then turn on Text Message Forwarding for your Mac under Settings >> Messages on your iPhone.

2. Use Split Screen view

Sometimes one screen just isn't enough, but you don't have to resort to shrinking the size of your windows to display two applications on your screen at once.

Here's a quick way you can try to manage multiple windows on your Mac. This is great for juggling two tasks at the same time.

Left-click on the window's green maximize button (on the upper-left hand side), hold it, drag it either to the left or the right of your screen then pick another window to pair it with for the perfect split screen view, with both windows sitting side by side.

3. Take screenshots instantly

Do you need a quick snapshot of just about anything on your Mac's screen? Do it with these handy shortcuts!

To take a screenshot of your entire screen, just press Shift, Command and the number 3 at the same time.

To capture a specific area of the screen, press Shift, Command and the number 4 and a cursor will appear. Just left-click and drag that cursor over the area you want to screenshot.

To capture a specific window, press Shift, Command and the number 4 then hit your spacebar. A camera icon will appear then simply left click on the window you want to capture.

Note: On a Touch Bar-enabled MacBook Pro, you can press Shift, Command and the number 6 to take a snapshot of OLED Touch Bar itself.

4. Convert units instantly in Spotlight

It's easy to overlook the little magnifying glass that's perched in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. When you need to find a file quickly, you might remember it's there. But did you know this search tool does much more than help you locate things? For example, you can do conversions within Spotlight!

When you type in a dollar amount, measurement, etc., Spotlight will bring up some instant conversions. It makes its best guess as to which conversion you're looking for, but you can always adjust your search by making things more specific. For example, when you start by typing "12 feet," Spotlight automatically calculates a conversion to meters. However, if you type "12 feet to inches" you'll find exactly what you're looking for.

5. Airplay your Mac's sound and screen

If you have an Apple TV or Airplay-enabled speakers, you can stream your Mac's audio wirelessly to them. And with iTunes, you can stream audio to multiple AirPlay speakers simultaneously.

Simply click the Airplay icon on iTunes and you can select all the Airplay-enabled speakers and gadgets that are available on your network.
Newer Macs (2011 and newer) can also mirror their screen to an Apple TV wirelessly, great for presentations, video or a secondary monitor. Just click the little Airplay icon on the menu bar then select an available Apple TV.

6. Share your printer with other Macs

Do you have multiple Macs and just one printer? Don't worry, you can simply connect it to one Mac then share wirelessly throughout your network! No need to move it around.

To share your printer, open System Preferences >> Sharing then check Printer Sharing. From here, you can specify which printer to share and to whom to share it with.

7. Use Airdrop to instantly send files

Do you find email or network sharing a bit cumbersome for sending files? Well, with Airdrop you make file sharing so much simpler.

AirDrop is an Apple protocol that lets you instantly send and receive files between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iPod touch via Bluetooth.

To use AirDrop from a Mac, just right-click on a file in Finder, select Share >> Airdrop. Your Mac will then search for nearby gadgets that it can Airdrop with.

This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.