Google+ December 2016 ~ High Tech House Calls

Unexpected Chemistry of Cookies

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy New Year

How to shop Etsy like a pro By Amanda Kooser

Etsy launched back in 2005, which qualifies it as an elder statesman of the internet retail scene. It rose to online prominence as a site full of quirky, cute and crafty handmade goods. It grew to include rare and unusual vintage items and embraced buyers and sellers from all across the globe. Today, Etsy is a massive store and savvy shoppers need smart tactics to make sense of the sprawl.

Follow along with our Etsy shopping tips to help you find the perfect handmade Star Wars apron, turquoise ring, craft supplies, or one-of-a-kind custom pet portrait.

What does handmade mean?

On its "About" page, Etsy notes that its heart and soul is made up of its global community, including "the creative entrepreneurs who use Etsy to sell what they make or curate." Take note of the word "curate." Though Etsy built its reputation on handmade crafts, not everything sold on the site is made in that fashion.

The presence of manufactured goods on Etsy isn't a bad thing, it's just something to be aware of while you're shopping. Etsy requires sellers who use manufacturers to go through an approval process to show they are honestly representing how their goods are created and produced.

Check reviews

The quality of art and handmade items can be very subjective, but Etsy's reviews are a good place to start when you're vetting one of the site's sellers. Each review is associated with a specific product, so you can see what previous buyers have to say about it.
Etsy doesn't provide an easy way to sort reviews, so you may be stuck scrolling through quite a list of customer responses to find relevant information. It helps if you start out on the page for the item you're interested in. Click on the yellow review stars and it will display reviews for that particular item if there are any. For one-of-a-kind offerings, you will need to pore over other reviews to get an idea of the seller's overall feedback.

Go custom

Talented artists flock to the Etsy marketplace. That means your dream of a custom portrait of your pup Sir Fluffytoes or a caricature of your favorite aunt is just a few clicks away from becoming a reality. But when the search term "custom dog portrait" returns over 26,000 results, you might feel a little overwhelmed about finding the right artist.

Start off by narrowing your search down into categories. There are special sections for paintings, drawings and pet portraits.
From there, scroll through the gallery-style thumbnails and look for a style that catches your eye. You might want something cartoonish, or perhaps a more refined watercolor suitable for hanging above the mantel. Expect a large oil painting to cost more than a digital print with some hand-embellished brush strokes on top.
Finally, look through an artist's portfolio, check reviews, read up on return policies, and keep an eye on pricing, which can vary quite a bit depending on the size and type of art you want. This same vetting process also applies to other custom items, whether it's jewelry, costumes or wedding invitations.

Ask questions

Etsy has a very well-thought-out messaging system that puts buyers in touch with sellers. This is how you get details on how big that bracelet really is, ask for a different photo angle, or kick off the process of ordering custom work.
Look for the "Ask a question" button to get started. You can even attach images to your messages, which is handy if you want a portrait based off of a photograph, or you are looking for specially made earrings to match an existing necklace.

Shop local

Curious if anyone in your town makes a quartz-and-silver pendant? You can shop on Etsy and still support local artisans. When you run a search on Etsy, the site gives a variety of options for fine-tuning your hunt.
Under "Refine your search" you will see an option for "Shop location." The main defaults are "Anywhere" or "United States," but you can choose to set a custom location for a specific town, state or country. You may find your new favorite artist is living right in your neighborhood.

Vintage goods

Etsy may well be one of the internet's biggest flea markets. You might not think to check the site for that elusive mid-century modern Danish chair you've been looking for, but you'll find nearly 2,000 examples for sale on there. Besides furniture, Etsy is stocked with estate jewelry, retro clothing, collectible dolls, board games from your childhood, and antique ceramics.

When buying older pieces, condition is key. Are there any cracks or repairs? Is it original or a reproduction? If the product description is vague, be sure to ask the seller detailed questions to avoid disappointment.

Part of the appeal of Etsy is that the shopping experience feels like an adventure of discovery. The hunt for a unique item sets it apart from a lot of other online retailers. Go in prepared for the shopping safari, keep your wits about you, and enjoy the ride.

Easiest way to backup your smartphone By Mark Jones

Our smartphones might be the most important gateway to our digital lives. We store so much important information on these handheld gadgets that the thought of losing them is frightening!
If you're like me, once you enter someone's phone number into your contacts list, it's out of your mind forever. It seems like it would be an impossible task to recover everyone's digits. How scary is that?
Obviously, smartphones aren't just contact directories. We also store precious pictures and videos on them as well as important files.
You never know when you're going to lose your phone, or even worse, have it stolen. That's why it's so critical to back up all of the essential data kept on these amazing gadgets.
With that in mind, we're going to tell you how to back up both Android and Apple phones.

Backing up an Android phone

File transfer app

There are different ways to back up your data from an Android phone. One way is to use a free file transfer app. We recommend using AirMore.
AirMore is a cross-platform tool that allows you to connect your mobile gadget to a PC wirelessly. It frees you from cables and client. The only thing you need to do is open the PC's web browser.
Here are some features you'll find on AirMore:
  • File transfer - Easily transfer data, music, photos and videos between your Android gadget and PC.
  • Manage contacts - You can manage all of your contacts on AirMore Web conveniently, including editing, deleting, transferring and making phone calls.
  • Secure transfer - AirMore makes the transfer between mobile gadgets and the PC more private and secure, as your approval is required for successful connection.
  • File management - You can delete, download and upload the files in your Android phone. Manage apps, documents, music, photos and videos easily.
Click here to see additional AirMore features and get the link to download the app.

Android backup service

You can also use Android Backup Service to back up data connected to one or more of your Google Accounts. If you have to replace your gadget or erase its data, you can restore your information from any Google Account that you backed up.
With Android Backup Service you can back up Google Calendar settings, Wi-Fi networks and passwords, home screen wallpapers, Gmail settings, apps installed through Google Play, display settings and more.
Before you begin, you'll need to add a backup account. Here is how to do that:
  • Open your gadget's Settings app
  • Under "Personal," tap Backup & reset
  • Tap Backup account >> Add account
  • Confirm your gadget's PIN, pattern or password
  • Sign into the account that you want to add
Now you're ready to backup your data. Here are those steps:
  • Open your gadget's Settings app
  • Under "Personal," tap Backup and reset
  • Tap Backup my data and switch it on
Once you use Android Backup Service to backup your phone, the information is available to be restored. All you need to do to get the backed up data onto your new phone is add the Google Account to it. When the Google Account is added to the phone, the backed up data is restored.

Backing up an iPhone


As we mentioned earlier, AirMore is a file transfer app for Android. Apple actually came up with this concept first and implemented it with AirDrop. This is one way to back up important data from your iPhone.
Apple AirDrop is a built-in app that lets you seamlessly move files back and forth between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. This is a quick and convenient way to transfer files from an iOS gadget to a Mac using a Bluetooth connection.
To enable AirDrop on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, swipe up on the Home screen to access the Control Panel. From here, you can set AirDrop to receive from Contacts Only, Everyone, or turn it Off.
To use AirDrop from a Mac, it is available from the Finder, the Share menu, and in Open and Save windows. When you select AirDrop, your Mac looks for nearby devices that can also use AirDrop. This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.

Back up your data in iCloud

An easy way to back up important data from an iPhone is to use iCloud. Here are the steps for using iCloud:
  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network
  • Go to Settings >> iCloud >> Back up
  • Turn on iCloud Backup
  • Tap Back Up Now - After the back up is done, go to
  • Settings >> iCloud >> Storage >> Manage Storage - Do this to make sure the backup was successful
Here are the steps to transfer data from iCloud to your phone:
  • Turn on your new iPhone - A Hello screen should appear.
  • Press the Home button - Follow steps until you see the Wi-Fi screen.
  • Tap a Wi-Fi network to join - Follow steps until you see the Apps & Data screen.
  • Tap Restore from iCloud >> Backup >> Next.
  • Sign into iCloud with your Apple ID and password.
  • When asked, choose a backup. Make sure it's the correct one by checking the date and size of each.
  • If you purchased iTunes or App Store content using multiple Apple IDs, you'll be asked to sign in to each. If you forgot a password, you can skip this step by tapping "Don't have an Apple ID or forgot it."
  • Stay connected and wait for the restore process to finish, then complete the rest of the onscreen setup steps. If possible, keep your gadget connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into power after setup. This allows content like your photos, music, and apps stored in iCloud to automatically download back to your gadget.

Back up your data to iTunes

To back up to iTunes on your computer, first, plug your phone into your computer. Then follow these steps:
  • Open iTunes.
  • Go to Files >> Devices >> Transfer Purchases - This will save any purchases you made directly on your phone.
  • Then go to File >> Devices >> Backup.
  • Select "This computer."
  • Click "Back Up Now."
Here are the steps to transfer data from iTunes to your phone:
  • Turn on your new iPhone - A Hello screen should appear.
  • Press the Home button when you see the Hello screen and follow steps until you see the Apps & Data screen.
  • Tap Restore from iTunes Backup >> Next.
  • Connect your new phone to the computer that you used to back up your previous phone.
  • Open iTunes on your computer and select your device.
  • Select Restore Backup. Then choose a backup. Make sure it's the correct one by looking at the date and size of each.
  • If you need to restore from an encrypted backup, enter your password when asked.
  • Wait for the restore process to finish, then complete the rest of the setup steps on your iOS gadget. If possible, keep your device connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into power after setup. This allows content like your photos, music, and apps stored in iCloud to automatically download back to your gadget.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Story: Backdoor malware infecting this popular tablet brand By Francis Navarro

Christmas Day 2016 has come and gone. What holiday treats and gifts did Santa bring down your chimney this year?

We've warned you before about the three things you should not buy for Christmas and we hope you took this shopping advice seriously. Among the items we mentioned were cheap tablets.
Tablets look like the perfect gift but cheap tablets have this major flaw: many of these may use a version of the Android operating system that's outdated, riddled with security holes that may never be patched.

So if you happen to find one of these modest stocking stuffers among your holiday haul, you have to read this!

It was recently discovered that the latest $50 Barnes and Noble 7-inch Nook tablet, model BNTV 450, includes the ADUPS spying malware. This is the same Android backdoor software found in Blu prepaid phones that was reportedly transmitting data and other information to a server in China.

Barnes and Noble Nook
The software was written by Shanghai Adups Technology Company in China. It says the code runs on over 700 million phones, cars and other smart gadgets and was intended to help Chinese phone makers monitor the behavior of its users.

This is a type of firmware that tells gadgets how they should operate. Companies are given the code that allows them to remotely update its firmware, which happens behind the scenes unknown to the user.

Security researcher Charles Fisher notes that the BNTV 450 is a "clear departure for Barnes & Noble." In the past, they relied on OMAP/Snapdragon designs but for this budget model, they contracted Chinese manufacturer Shenzhen Jingwah Information Technology Co., Ltd. The BNTV 450 runs on an MT8163 processor from MediaTek, a company outed for being directly aiding ADUPS in evading Google security.

Barnes and Noble's response

Before you chuck your new Nook tablet into the fireplace, Barnes and Noble has issued a statement claiming that the ADUPS software on its Nook has been neutralized and will be completely removed in the future:

According to Barnes & Noble Chief Digital Officer Fred Argir:
"NOOK Tablet 7" went on sale on November 26. By that time, the device automatically updated to a newer version of ADUPS (5.5), which has been certified as complying with Google’s security requirements, when first connected to Wi-Fi. ADUPS has confirmed to Barnes & Noble that it never collected any personally identifiable information or location data from NOOK Tablet 7" devices, nor will it do so in the future.
"Finally, we are working on a software update to remove ADUPS completely from the NOOK Tablet 7". That update will be made available to download within the next few weeks, but in the meantime, customers can rest assured that the device is safe to use."

Additionally, for their part, ADUPS claims that the new version of their software has been cleaned of all monitoring activity and it no longer spies on users but this is yet to be verified as true.

What you should do

If you have the $50 Barnes and Noble BNTV 450 7-inch tablet or the BLU smartphones affected by ADUPS, update your gadget's firmware immediately!

Your Nook software should automatically update if Auto Download is on. To manually update it, here are the steps (from Barnes and Noble):
1. Ensure the device is charged to at least 30 percent and connected to WiFi.
2. Open Settings.
3. Select About Tablet.
4. Select Software Update.
5. Select Check for Updates at the bottom of the screen.
6. The update will begin downloading.
7. Once the download is complete, tap on Restart & Install on the Software Update screen. This process may take a few minutes. Once complete, the device will return to the lock screen.
To turn on Auto Download:
1.     Tap on Settings
2.    Tap on About Tablet
3.    Tap on Software Update
4.    Tap on Overflow Menu
5.    Tap on Settings
6.    Tap on Automatic Daily Update Check and make sure Automatically Download Updates is ON
Some are even recommending that you stop using the tablet immediately since its operating system, Android version 6.0, is still vulnerable to the Stagefright exploit.

If you're still in doubt about this gadget, you can still return it. Barnes and Noble has a generous holiday return policy and you have until January 31 to return any item purchased from the company between November 14 and December 31. Make sure you keep the box and receipt to get a full refund.

Monday, December 26, 2016

MacBook Pro is the first Apple laptop to lack a recommendation from Consumer Reports By Oscar Raymundo

The new MacBook Pro is the black sheep in Apple’s product line, at least according to a new review.

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro has failed to receive a buy recommendation from Consumer Reports, making it the first MacBook in history to lack this stamp of approval. Consumer Reports cites extreme inconsistencies with battery performance as the key issue for withholding their recommendation. 

Apple claims that the new MacBook Pro boasts 10 hours of battery life, but Consumer Reports found battery life to range widely from less than 4 hours to 19 hours. Average battery life may be 10 hours, but this average performance can’t be guaranteed.

“With the widely disparate figures we found in the MacBook Pro tests, an average wouldn’t reflect anything a consumer would be likely to experience in the real world,” Jerry Beilinson, reviewer at Consumer Reports, wrote in a blog post.

The new MacBook Pro’s lackluster battery life is not only an anomaly for overall laptop performance, but it also marks a major downgrade by Apple standards.

“This is a real departure from past MacBooks. Most Apple laptops have scored well in our battery test, typically lasting much longer than the manufacturer has claimed,” the blog post continued. “For instance, a previous 13-inch MacBook Pro model lasted an exceptional 19 hours in Consumer Reports testing.”

The new MacBook Pro received 4 out of 5 mice in our Macworld review, and we weren’t able to replicate the type of battery issues that plagued the Consumer Reports team. We found battery life during an iTunes movie playback to last 9 hours. However, we also found that relying solely on the high performance graphics, the MacBook Pro takes a big hit on battery life. 

Apple declined to give a comment to Consumer Reports about their findings but did state that, “Any customer who has a question about their Mac or its operation should contact AppleCare.”

The story behind the story: This is not the first time that we’ve heard about the MacBook Pro’s battery woes. Earlier this month, complaints started popping up on Apple’s discussion forums regarding a substandard battery life on the MacBook Pro. Some users claim that their new laptops last only about 3 hours, similar to what Consumer Reports found. Apple originally responded with a software update, macOS 10.12.2, but that only removed the battery-remaining time estimate.
Watch our video review of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar below.
Hardware & Accessories
MacBook Pro review: The Touch Bar bridges the gap between iPad and Mac
This story, "MacBook Pro is the first Apple laptop to lack a recommendation from Consumer Reports" was originally published by Macworld.

Student Studying Abroad: I've Gone Through This Twice and Lived to Tell the Tale by Carl Thorne

  • Always, always, always go through the school's study aboard program to sign up for a program.
  • Forget about the semester aboard having "real" classes that will count toward their major. They  are studying aboard for the experience of studying abroad. 
  • Forget EurailPasses. EasyJet and Ryan Air are the way to travel inside Europe.
  • I chose not to activate an international calling plan. Facebook Messenger worked fine for video calling.
  • We replaced the sim card in her iPhone with a local one that gave her a data plan. She now had a local phone number that the school and her fellow students could use to call her.
  • "Big" purchases were made with an American Express card because there were no currency transaction fees.
  • My student's checking account was a joint one with me. That meant I could easily transfer money from my checking account to her's.

Quick and convenient way to transfer files By Mark Jones

How many of you have ever emailed a file - like a photo or a document - to your Mac from your iPhone or iPad, even as you sit right in front of your Mac? Yes, I've done it too, just like nearly every other Apple user on the planet. That's probably because using email to move files around works pretty well as long as your file is small enough to be attached.

But now there's a better way to move files among your gadgets or even among your friends. When Apple released iOS 8 along with the newest desktop OSX, Yosemite, it dramatically improved and simplified the way we are able to move files around.

One great part of this function is that your Apple gadgets don't even need to be on the same network or signed into the same iCloud account to move files back and forth. That means you can also move files to a friend or co-worker. However, there is one small caveat, users need to be near each other to transfer the files.


Apple AirDrop is a built-in app that lets you seamlessly move files back and forth between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. This is a quick and convenient way to transfer files from an iOS gadget to a Mac using a Bluetooth connection.

To enable AirDrop on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, swipe up on the Home screen to access the Control Panel. From here, you can set AirDrop to receive from Contacts Only, Everyone, or turn it Off.

To use AirDrop from a Mac, it is available from the Finder, the Share menu, and in Open and Save windows. When you select AirDrop, your Mac looks for nearby devices that can also use AirDrop. This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.


For a comparable experience on Android, you can try the third-party app AirMore. It is the best multi-platform file transfer app for Android.

Here are some of AirMore's features:
  • File Transfer - Easily transfer data, music, photos and videos between your Android gadget and PC with clicks. There is no need for cables.
  • Screen Reflector - It's easy for you to reflect your Android gadget's screen to PC from AirMore Web. It's a great way to play a game on a bigger screen.
  • Simple connection - Scan the QR Code on AirMore Web and get connected with ease.
  • Secure transfers - AirMore makes the transfer between mobile gadgets and PC private and secure, as your approval is required for successful connection.
  • Multimedia streaming - AirMore allows you to stream Android music, pictures and videos to your PC simply. Transferring is no longer necessary as you can stream media files to a large screen and share with others.
Click on the link below to download AirMore from the Google Play Store.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Best Wi-Fi Routers_ No More Dead Zones - WSJ by Geofffrey Fowler on Scribd

Sights and Sounds by Marc Saltzman on Scribd

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Apple Airpods review: You're worrying about the wrong thing by David Pogue

In 2010, when a customer wrote Apple (AAPL) to complain about his iPhone 4 dropping calls, Steve Jobs himself emailed back.

“You’re holding it wrong,” he said. (OK, what he actually wrote was, “Just avoid holding it in that way.” But that’s not quite as much fun.)

This week, after a long delay, Apple’s AirPods finally started shipping. Already, the world is full of complaints about their strange, detached, dental-themed design. But if Steve Jobs were alive today, he might say: “You’re complaining about them wrong.”

The AirPods are pretty great. Their strange design does present some problems—but not the ones everyone’s complaining about.
Here they are: Apple's wireless, $160 AirPods.
Here they are: Apple’s wireless, $160 AirPods.

Meet the AirPods

Starting with the iPhone 7, Apple joined a growing list of phone makers that are eliminating the headphone jack. Yes, Apple includes, in the box, a new pair of wired earbuds (they attach to the charging jack) and an adapter that accommodates existing ones.

But Apple believes that it’s high time we eliminate the cords, the tangles, the knots—and go wireless with our earbuds, the way we’ve gone wireless with just about everything else.

Bluetooth earbuds and headphones are nothing new. In fact, they now outsell wired headphones, at least by dollar volume. But Apple’s earbuds are, as you’d hope, far more elegant and slick than their rivals.

For example, they come in a dental-floss box—I’m sorry, a white carrying case—that doubles as a recharging battery. Fifteen minutes in the case, and you’ve recharged the AirPods for another 3 hours of listening. (The case itself charges over a standard iPhone Lightning cable.)
The AirPods all nestled in their charging case.
The AirPods all nestled in their charging case.
When fully charged, the AirPods play for 5 hours—10 hours if you listen to only one at a time, Apple points out—and the case holds enough juice to recharge them for 24 hours of listening.

You might scoff at the notion of listening to only one earbud at a time. But in practice, that turns out to be a great way to listen—on the train, on the plane, in a car, on foot—because you can listen to your YouTube videos, phone call, or background music without becoming isolated from your environment.

The Apple Touch

Sweet Apple touches abound in these things.

For example, all you have to do to “pair” a new pair to your iPhone is open the lid of the AirPods case. Within seconds, a picture of the AirPods and the case appears on your phone’s screen, complete with the current battery levels—and a Connect button. They’re now your phone’s voice—and, thanks to Apple iCloud syncing, they’re now also available to play from to your Mac, iPad, and any other gadget you’ve got, with no additional pairing.
This process is so automatic, it doesn’t even deserve the term “pairing.”
(You can use AirPods as normal Bluetooth earbuds with non-Apple equipment, but you lose things like that auto-pairing and some of Apple’s proprietary audio technology.)

This is magic, too: When you take one AirPod out of your ear socket, to answer the flight attendant, for example, your music pauses automatically—and resumes when you put it back into your ear. Yes, there’s an optical sensor in each one that recognizes when it’s in your ear. Very slick.
When a call comes in, your music pauses automatically, and noise cancellation kicks in so your voice is clearer.

A magnetic click holds the AirPods securely in the case, and another magnet holds the case shut. You’ll spend hours snapping it open and closed when you’re on phone calls or waiting for your Uber.

Siri is Her

Nobody really thinks about this, but the AirPods’ ability to connect you to Siri really may be the killer app. You double-tap either AirPod to get an immediate, crisp “I’m listening” chime—and then you talk.

And she speaks her reply, intimately and clearly, right into your brain. (Except when she shows her answer on your phone screen instead of speaking it. That’s such a drag.)

Now you know why the AirPods have that goofy-looking stem pointed at your mouth: It’s to aim their microphones at your voice. Siri’s recognition through the AirPods is incredibly good, no matter how noisy your environment. An AirPod+Siri comes as close as technology yet allows to the in-ear computer made famous in the 2013 movie “Her.” (Tragically, Siri doesn’t yet sound like Scarlett Johansson.)

Do They Fall Out?

The AirPods are shaped exactly like the white, wired, standard EarPods that they replace. If those feel comfortable in your ears, then AirPods will, too, and vice versa.

So let’s put this to rest right now: The AirPods don’t fall out. That would be the ultimate audio dropout. (Thank you, thank you! Tip your waitress.)

They stay in snugly when you’re dancing, bopping, shivering. They stay in under conditions when the wired EarPods would have fallen out. In other words, here’s what most people miss: The weight and tug of the earbud cord add to the falling-out problem, rather than solving it.
So if that’s what you’re worried about, forget it.

What you do have to worry about is dropping the AirPods. They’re tiny and shiny-slick; Apple may as well have covered them with Teflon. In the three months I’ve been testing them, I’ve dropped ‘em a few times onto the floor of the commuter train or the bowels of my airplane seat, simply in the process of transferring them between their two homes: the case and your earholes. (A replacement AirPod costs $70, although of course you could always just forage in couch cushions in public places.)

And I’ll bet you anything that, in crowded cities, AirPod ear pickpocketing will become a thing.
If you’re still freaked out by the notion of two, not-connected earbuds, other Bluetooth wireless earbud designs are available, including two from Apple’s Beats line that have over-hear hooks and other systems that keep the earbuds on when you’re running, exercising, or standing upright.

The Sound and the Fury

These earbuds sound great. Easily as good as the wired EarPods, maybe better. Easily as good as Bluetooth earbuds costing $200 or $250 from other companies—so no, $160 really isn’t a gouging price. Partly that good quality comes from the seal of your ear canal, and partly that’s because of that extra layer of wireless goodness that Apple added on top of the standard Bluetooth signal.
So you don’t need to worry about that, either.

Aside from dropping AirPods as you handle them, the big drawback is this: They have no buttons at all. You can double-tap to answer a call or speak to Siri, but there are no volume controls, no Next/Previous Song buttons. If you want to adjust the volume or skip tracks, you have to use your phone—or speak to Siri (“Make the volume louder” or “Next track,” for example). Neither is always convenient.

So yeah, the AirPods introduce some hassles you didn’t have before. But don’t forget how many hassles they eliminate: Untangling your earbud cord when you pull it from your pocket or bag—every. Single. Time.

Plugging it into your phone. Unplugging it. Getting it snagged on things. Figuring out how to thread it on your winter jacket. Feeling it snap against your neck when you’re jogging. Coiling it up and putting it back when you’re done.

Often, when I’m in a cab or a train, I don’t bother playing Facebook videos people have posted. It’s just not worth the hassle of hauling out and setting up the cords for such a short stint.

But it’s different in the AirPods Era. You open the case, put an AirPod in your ear, and hit Play.
None of Apple’s latest efforts—Apple Watch, MacBook Pro, Apple Music—have been critically acclaimed smash hits. But the AirPods are a different story: Ridiculous amounts of cool technology packed into ridiculously tiny space. It’s nice to see some of the old Apple magic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How Microsoft rebounded to outshine Apple By Sarah K. White

Microsoft claims that more people are switching to Surface devices from Macs than ever before. That's a concept that would have been hard to picture when Microsoft first released the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Surface RT suffered from a watered-down version of the new -- and generally disliked -- Windows 8 operating system and, while the Surface Pro featured the full desktop version, it came with hardware limitations and a high price tag.

In a sea of clam shell notebooks, all vying to be thinner and lighter than the last, the Surface clumsily debuted as a confusing mashup of a tablet and a laptop. And people didn't like it. RT users complained of the limited functionality and never-ending bugs, while Surface Pro users were forced to pay a high price just to avoid Windows RT. In fact, the Surface RT did so poorly that Microsoft had to take a $900 million dollar write-down after drastically cutting the price of the device.

The backlash even made some question whether or not we were witnessing the end of Microsoft. It might seem dramatic now in 2016, but in 2013, people really missed the Start menu. Instead, Microsoft listened to consumers' complaints to find a balance between the company's vision and what consumers wanted. And it worked -- Microsoft has regained credibility and popularity by creating new products that didn't simply mimic or improve upon what was already out there.
[ Related story: Macbook Pro vs Surface Book i7 ]

Apple's identity crisis

For a company once targeting modern, creative professionals, it's hard to tell who Apple makes products for anymore. Apple's devices now feel tailored to a low-tech crowd, or people who like new tech, but just aren't that interested in specs. They want a reliable, easy-to-use device that just works. But where does that leave the original fan base of creative workers who need high-performance and cutting edge features? Apple hasn't left this industry with many options -- and at this point, you can get more for your money in graphics and performance on a Surface Book than a Macbook Pro. Plus, with the newly announced Microsoft Studio, there is finally a strong alternative to the iMac -- with a touch display, no less.

Apple's compromise is the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which features a dynamic touch bar replacing the row of function keys on the keyboard. The display changes depending on settings and the app you're using; it's a cool feature, and certainly useful, but it's a confusing message. If the iPad Pro is competing with hybrid notebooks like the Surface Pro 4, but Apple doesn't think people want touch-displays on a notebook, then does that make the iPad Pro a giant iPad?

Microsoft is focused on touch-based input -- in fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find even a mid-ranged PC that doesn't at least offer the option of an upgrade to a touch display. The two companies have taken different stances, but in siding with touch, Microsoft has more to offer in each of its devices. If you want a notebook that can sometimes be a tablet, or a tablet that can sometimes be a notebook, you can purchase just one device instead of two.

Microsoft has focused on developing a family of Surface devices that can suit a wide range of users. It starts with the lower-end Surface 3, which is a great device for anyone who just wants a computer to surf the web and use basic apps. The Surface Pro 4 acts as a step up in size and hardware, with configurations for anyone from light users to those who need more performance. And now, with the Surface Book and Surface Studio, even those who need the highest end configurations for heavy-duty video or image editing have an option.

[ Related story: History of Apple and Microsoft: 4 decades of peaks and valleys ]

The Surface in pop culture

Remember when Windows users were the boring, out of touch, suit-wearing nerds in commercials, and a Mac user was the hipster CEO of a startup -- that guy in 2006 who wore hoodies and scootered to all his meetings? That landscape has changed a lot since then, and now Microsoft is the one calling out Apple on selling outdated hardware and falling behind the curve.

Microsoft has clearly made a push to get the Surface in front of consumers anyway possible -- CNN commentators used the devices in this year's debates, but it was later discovered they were using them to hide their iPads. Hulu's The Mindy Project also features Mindy Kaling's character using a Surface Book, with one very obvious instance of product marketing, where she very purposefully ejects the display from the keyboard. And what New Englander can forget when the Surface Pro 4 made headlines after Patriot's coach, Bill Belichick, became so frustrated with the technology that he spiked it onto the field.

These might not be the most positive representations of the brand, but the visibility of the device seems to be working. In places where it used to be a sea of aluminum notebooks, featuring the familiar, backlit Apple logo, we're starting to see some diversity.

Just as it wasn't the end of Microsoft in 2013, it's now Apple's chance to step out of the spotlight and make some changes. But there's nothing like a little healthy competition to help spark new, creative designs and that's exactly what motivated Microsoft to step back, refocus and come back strong.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to Receive AirDrop Files on Your iPhone by iPhoneLife

With AirDrop, you can wirelessly send and receive photos, videos, websites, locations, and more with nearby devices running on iOS 7 or later. You can also share with Macs running on Yosemite or later if your iPhone runs on iOS 8 or later. For AirDrop to work, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be turned on and you must be signed into your iCloud account. I love using Airdrop to easily transfer pictures from my iPhone to my Mac. Airdrop is also a great way to share pictures with friends after you've attended an event together. Here's how to set up your iPhone to receive Airdrops. 

How to Receive AirDrop Files on Your iPhone

To be able to receive a file over AirDrop,
  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Select AirDrop.
  • You can choose to receive AirDrops from Everyone, Contacts Only, or turn if Off. I chose Everyone.

Share this tip with a friend:

Share on Facebook



  • When someone sends you an AirDrop, you’ll be able to accept or decline.

That's all there is to it! Want to learn more about using Airdrop to transfer files from your iPhone to computer? We can help with that
Top Image Credit: 10 FACE /