Google+ 2017 ~ High Tech House Calls

Do Dogs Really Miss Us?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to stop the capital 'I' from turning into gibberish on your iPhone By Michael Simon

From the Department of Really Strange and Mystical Bugs comes this: Some iPhone users running the latest version of iOS 11 can’t type a capital “I.” That means that millions of people who were trying to text their friends, “I got my new iPhone X!!” over the weekend were actually sending out this message instead: “A [?] got my new iPhone X!!”

The iOS 11.1 bug affects the autocorrect engine on phones, and changes a capital “I” to an “A” alongside an unreadable Unicode symbol. While it’s pretty low on the seriousness scale, it’s still an annoying bug to say the least. And it’s hardly uncommon. All over Twitter, unaware celebrities were posting “A [?]” all over the place. Apple, of course, is working on a fix—the Wall Street Journal reports that we could see an iOS update that patches it sometime this week—but in the meantime, there’s a workaround. The iOS 11.2 public beta 2 update fixes this bug, so if no fix rolls out to the non-beta channel this week, it will at least be fixed as soon as 11.2 rolls out to all users.
If you type a capital “I” and it autocorrects to this bug, you can do one of three things:
  • Turn off autocorrect.
  • Press the leftmost text option to tell autocorrect to keep the capital “I” instead of changing it. This will need to be done every time you type a capital “I” and can get tedious.
  • Set up a text replacement for lowercase “i.”
text replacement ios bug IDG
If your capital I’s look weird on you iPhone, try setting up a text replacement.
Text replacement is the thing that expands “OMW” to “On my way!” on new iPhones, and it can be used to alleviate this particular headache. Head over to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement and tap the plus symbol to add a new rule. Then type an upper-case “I” for the phrase and a lower-case “I” for the shortcut. That will tell your phone to substitute a capital I whenever a stadalone lowercase “I” is typed.

Now, you’ll only need to train your brain to stop telling your finger to hit the shift key before typing a standalone “I,” which will probably be harder than setting up the new text replacement. And once Apple fixes it, you’ll need to unlearn what you just unlearned.

The impact on you at home: This is one of those bugs that’s more funny than fatal, but it’s still a nuisance—and Apple has yet to disclose what is causing the glitch in the first place. But while you wait for Apple to push out the iOS 11.1.1 update or 11.2, at least this fix will help you regain your sanity.

This story, "How to stop the capital 'I' from turning into gibberish on your iPhone" was originally published by Macworld.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When to buy SD, HD or UHD streaming movies and TV shows By Francis Navarro,

With Apple finally embracing 4K movies with the new Apple TV, you are probably wondering, "What's the big deal?" You've been hearing the 4K/UHD buzzword for years now but maybe you weren't really paying attention since it all sounded like marketing mumbo jumbo to you.

A few years ago, that may have been true since there was hardly any 4K content available and those expensive state-of-the-art UHD TV sets seemed like total wastes of money. Only early tech adopters, avid videophiles and people with broad swaths of disposable income seemed interested.

Fast forward to today, with cheaper 4K TV sets dropping and Apple pushing 4K content to the mainstream, it's now safe to say that 4K has finally arrived.

While 4K streaming video is nothing new - Netflix, Amazon Video, and Vudu have been offering this format for a while now - with Apple and iTunes in the mix, we'll surely be seeing more of this UHD option getting promoted everywhere when we rent or purchase videos online.

But what does all this mean and why do some video resolutions cost more than others?

What are video resolutions?

The three streaming formats available right now are Standard Definition (SD), High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD).

Basically, the difference between SD, HD, or UHD formats is the number of pixels that comprise the video image. Pixels are the small dots that combine to "draw" the images you see on screen. The higher the resolution, the more pixels you have. And with more pixels, you get a sharper and more detailed picture.

The numbers commonly attached to these formats represent their vertical resolutions. As you can see in the comparison image below, there's a significant difference between the variety of resolutions.
In the subsequent sections, I'll explain when and why you'll choose one format over another.

SD Quality

Standard Definition or SD quality is the cheapest format you can rent or buy. It is also known as DVD quality since DVD movies also max out at this resolution: 858 x 480 (480p).

On smaller screens like those old tube TVs or even smartphones, SD quality may be good enough. Some people say that the resolution differences between SD and HD are not perceivable on small screens so you're just wasting the extra pixels pretty much.

SD video files are also smaller in size and take up less bandwidth than HD or UHD videos. Since SD videos are typically cheaper to rent, if you're planning on renting a quick movie on your smartphone while on the road, SD is the smarter choice. But take note, I said renting and not buying, there's a big difference. More on that later.

If you're streaming off Netflix or Amazon Video on mobile, SD quality is also more efficient, since it takes less bandwidth. In fact, most carriers are already throttling streaming videos to SD to relieve their networks of congestion.

HD Quality

720p and 1080p videos fall under HD quality. 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) is simply known as HD (or sometimes semi-HD) and 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) is known as Full HD.

If you're watching at home on a TV that's at least 32 inches and at least 720p compatible, then paying the extra cost to get the HD version of a movie is definitely worth it. You'll get a significant bump in quality and level of detail that's hard not to miss. Also, the bigger the TV and the closer your viewing position is, the more discernable the differences are, even when comparing 720p and 1080p resolution videos.

Another important thing to consider is that when you buy HD quality movies from streaming sites including Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, Fandango or iTunes, the SD quality version is also included in your purchase. This means if you're planning on watching your movie purchase later on the road on mobile, you can view the SD version instead to save bandwidth.

UHD/4K Quality

Now, here's the latest, greatest and biggest format, 4K or UHD (3860 x 2160 pixels) video. It used to be a real luxury to get a 4K TV and the matching content to go with it. But slowly but surely, with prices for 4K TV sets dropping and streaming services like Netflix, Vudu and Amazon offering more 4K content, mainstream adoption is inevitable.

4K versions of streaming movies typically cost more than even their HD counterparts, usually around $30 per movie. Early adopters, as usual, got the raw end of the deal since they had to repurchase all their movies in 4K if they want to add them to their collection, even though they already own the HD version. Talk about double and triple dipping.

But things are suddenly starting to look up since Apple joined the 4K party. Ever the market disruptor, Apple managed to force the movie studios to drop iTunes 4K movie prices down to $19.99. And better yet, all the HD flicks in your iTunes movies collection are automatically upgraded to include the 4K version for free!

Other streaming services are taking notice. After Apple's 4K announcement, Amazon slashed its 4K video prices across the board and we're expecting others like Vudu to follow suit soon.

Keep in mind that 4K videos are extremely large and take up lots of bandwidth. Make sure that your internet connection has the recommended speed (and data cap) for handling 4K content.

Bottom line

It's not that tough to choose. What I recommend is this: if you're purchasing one of your all-time favorite movies for your video collection, then definitely go at least 1080p HD since you're bound to watch it repeatedly. When in doubt, always choose HD.

If you're just renting a movie to pass the time away, you can get away with just the SD version if you're going to watch on a smartphone on the road or if you have an old standard definition set at home. If it's family movie night in the living room on your main HDTV, rent the HD version.

Now, with 4K in the mix, if you want to future proof your movie collection, wait for the prices to go down, then go for the 4K version (as mentioned earlier, this doesn't really matter with iTunes purchases, you always get the 4K version with an HD purchase). Obviously, if you don't really care for 4K because you don't have 4K equipment yet, stick with the HD version for now.

Until then, we're hoping that all streaming services will follow Apple's lead and will start offering free 4K upgrades for past HD purchases.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The $50 Google Home Mini vs. the $50 Amazon Echo Dot—who wins? by David Pogue

Ever since Amazon (AMZN) created the Amazon Echo, the “Siri for the home” voice assistant, every company and its brother has rushed to come up with one almost exactly like it.

Take, for example, the Amazon Echo Dot. Like the full-size Echo, it responds to your commands and questions from across the room—but it’s a tiny, sawed-off one that costs $50. The only difference is that because you don’t have the big cylinder, the sound quality is tinny. It makes a fantastic second Echo—say, for the upstairs.

Well, now here’s Google (GOOG, GOOGL) with its own version of the Dot, called the Google Home Mini. Also puck-shaped, also $50. (Google will also be releasing the Google Home Max, a beefier version with better sound.)

The Dot and the Mini are 90% identical. They both work great. Each has a Microphone Off switch, so you can be sure that it’s not listening for its trigger word. Both can now distinguish who is making the request, so that it can respond to commands like “Play my party playlist” and “What’s next on my calendar?” with the right person’s music or info. 
Both now let you make free speakerphone calls to actual phone numbers (although the Google’s call quality is awful).
There are, however, a few differences to note.
In this corner: The Google Home Mini.
  • The sound is much better. Neither assistant pod will be mistaken for a concert hall. But there’s no question that Google’s built-in speaker is richer than Amazon’s.
  • It talks to Chromecasts and Android TVs. If you spring $35 for a Chromecast (a little receiver stick that plugs into a modern TV’s USB jack), or if you have a TV that runs Android TV, you can perform a nifty trick. You can say, “Ok Google, show me a video about how to remove contact lenses” or “Show me funny cat videos” or “Show me the trailer for the new Avengers movie,” and it appears on your TV instantly. As you can see in the video above, it’s quite magical.
  • It will someday have a tap-to-talk feature. The top of the Mini is supposed to be touch sensitive. As designed, you could tap it to issue a command (instead of saying “OK Google”), or tap it to pause music. But just as the Home Mini was shipping, a reviewer discovered a bug in which that button thought that it was being pressed all the time, transmitting everything anyone said in the room to Google’s servers. So Google responded by shutting off that top button’s features altogether.

And now, in this corner: The Amazon Echo Dot.
  • Works with more home-automation products, like internet-controlled thermostats, lights, security cameras, and so on. It’s a huge list. Google’s improving on this front, but Amazon’s had a several-year head start.
  • It has an audio output jack. Lots of people love plugging in their nice speakers or sound systems to an Echo Dot, thanks to the standard miniplug on the side (the Google offers nothing similar). That makes it easy to control your music by voice—one of the most luxurious features ever.
  • The volume controls are much better. The Echo Dot has a smoothly turning volume ring on the top. On the Google Mini, you have to repeatedly tap one side to raise the volume, the opposite edge to lower it. There are only 4 LED light segments to tell you what the current volume level is (rather than the far more informative, full 360-degree light-up ring on the Echo). And it’s never clear which side you’re supposed to tap, since there’s no label.
  • You can see feedback across the room. The Dot’s LED ring glows in different colors and patterns to communicate different things—for example, it glows when it’s transmitting sound back to Amazon. You can see it from the side, and therefore from across the room. The Google’s four LEDs are visible only when you’re looking down on the device, which isn’t nearly as useful.
  • You can order stuff. Of course, this is exactly what Amazon hopes you’ll do, but it’s still cool. “Alexa—order more paper towels.”
If you’re a Google Play subscriber, maybe the convenience of speaking your desires for music tips the balance for you toward the Google Home Mini. (The argument about “Buy a Google Home if you keep your calendar in Google Calendar” doesn’t really hold water, since the Echo can consult or add events to the calendar systems of Google or Apple (AAPLor Microsoft (MSFT).

Otherwise, though, the Echo Dot is still the better micro-assistant. (Especially when it’s on sale for $40—for example, on the typical Black Friday, which is in a couple of weeks.)

Both of these devices are delicious enhancements to almost anyone’s home. Over time, you’ll find more and more ways that they’re useful—and for only 50 bucks!

Best 4K TV on a budget By Kevin Downey,

At the top of almost everyone's Christmas list is a TV. That is especially true for sports fans, movie buffs and binge-watching TV viewers.

Of course, these days prices for TV sets are soaring. You can easily pay thousands of dollars for the latest, greatest 4K TV out there.

But why spend that much money when you can save hundreds of dollars on a high-quality 4K TV set? You may have heard Kim talking about it on her show.

"TCL has a steep hill to climb to be No. 1," Kim Komando said. "But it's the fastest-growing television brand in the United States.

"They're getting rave reviews. They're now launching a TCL 75-inch, 4K Roku TV for just $2,000. That's right, just $2,000. Roku is the operating system. You can subscribe to cable or satellite TV.

They say it will be available in time for the holidays."

Rave Reviews

There is also a 55-inch TCL 4K TV that's highly rated by well-known magazines and electronics reviewers. One reviewer said, "It's simply the greatest value we have ever seen in a TV."

We're talking about the TCL 55P607 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV (2017 Model). You can find it on Amazon for $830.

That's a low price. But is it a good value?
Yes. This 4K TV boasts impressive specs that rival much pricier TV sets.

TCL 55" Class P-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Roku Smart TV - 50P607

Impressive Specs

You've seen large-screen TVs. Heck, you probably have more than one in your house.

The problem with TV sets is that it's so confusing to shop for one. You walk into a store like Best Buy, Target or Walmart and what do you see? Hundreds of TVs - there are large ones, bigger ones, curved TV sets, 3D TVs and so many other options.

Worse, the specs might as well be written in Greek. You have LCD, LED, ports, refresh rates and who knows what else?

So, what do most people do? Well, you pay for the most expensive TV set you can afford ... and hope for the best.

Too often, you get home, open that huge box and set up your TV. Then, you discover it's just a decent TV with a really large screen. It may not even be HD!

But the TCL 55P607 does not disappoint. It costs a fraction of pricier but lesser quality TV sets.

It has a 55-inch LED screen. It's 4K, which means it has four times the resolution of HDTVs.

This is important. The refresh rate on TV sets means the number of frames a TV can show each second. The image is refined, so you're seeing the highest-quality image possible. The TCL 55P607 has a 120-hertz refresh rate.

It has three HDMI inputs, a USB port and inputs for other components. Of course, it's a smart TV. It also uses the high-speed 802.11ac wireless connection. 

Plus, it uses the streaming box Roku's Roku TV Smart Platform. That means you can connect it to the internet to stream content from hundreds of channels like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Prices Are Going to Go Up

You know how stores work, right? The hotter a product is, the more they can jack up the price.
When it comes to TV sets, you can find great deals all year round. But they're not always the highest-quality TV sets. 

Right now is a great time to start shopping. Once the Christmas season kicks in, stores will raise the price on the most-in-demand TV sets. The same is true in January in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Just watch those prices rise!

The point? Start looking for good values now!

Huge 4K TV comes with a hefty price tag

OK, sometimes you do want to spend big money. If your family and friends are impressed with over-sized TV sets, you have to check this one out. Let's put it this way: The screen is measured in feet, not inches!

How to Set Background App Refreesh to WiFi only with iOS11 on iPhone by iPhoneLife

Thursday, October 19, 2017

5 reasons to buy a Pixel 2 over iPhone 8 (and five reasons not to) By Michael Simon

If there’s one phone that an Apple fan sould consider switching to, it’s the Google Pixel 2. From the stock Oreo experience to the optimized hardware and promise of three years of updates, no other Android phone comes close to emulating the iOS experience.

So, if you’re due for an upgrade and don’t want to wait for iPhone X to start shipping, you might want to check out the Pixel 2. The difference between Android and iOS isn’t so wide anymore, and Google is slowly building an ecosystem that can rival Apple’s. And let’s face it, iPhone 8 isn't the gotta-have-it handset previous models have been. So before you commit, check out the pros and cons of jumping to a Pixel 2 instead of upgrading to iPhone 8.

Reasons to buy a Pixel 2 over iPhone 8

1. Camera

pixel 2 back camera Michael Simon/IDG
The Pixel 2’s camera does a lot with a little.
While the Pixel 2’s 12MP, f/1.8 camera is similar to the one you’ll find on iPhone 8, the overall system on Google’s flagship handset is far superior. Google is using its machine learning and image processing smarts to mimic the portrait mode on the iPhone 8 Plus with pretty stellar results, and the Pixel Core Visual image processor that will soon be powering the Pixel 2 will ensure that it actually improves over time. The iPhone 8’s camera is no slouch, of course, but it’s not quite in the same league as the Pixel 2—and you don’t have to buy the XL to get all the good stuff.

2. Stereo speakers and sound

pixel 2 stero speakers Michael Simon/IDG
Yup, that’s a front-facing stereo speaker on the Pixel 2.
Both phones may have dispensed with the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of Bluetooth and dongles, but Google compensated by adding front-facing stereo speakers to the Pixel 2. While you’re still better off connecting a Bluetooth speaker, the speakers on the Pixel 2 are powerful and robust, besting the iPhone 8 in clarity, separation, and just plain loudness. Plus, the Pixel 2 offers 25 volume “steps” compared to the iPhone’s 16, giving you a bit more precision over the audio output.

3. Google Pixel Buds

It’s a fair argument to say the Google Pixel Buds were “inspired by” Apple’s own AirPods, with their easy pairing and Assistant capabilities, but Google takes it one step further with an exclusive Pixel 2 live translation feature. While Pixel Buds act as a normal set of Bluetooth buds on any other phone, pair them with a Pixel phone and you’ll be able to travel the world and hear what people are saying in your native tongue. It’s the next best thing to having a Babel fish in your ear.

4. Android Oreo and the Pixel Launcher

google pixel rotate home screen IDG
Android Oreo on the Pixel 2 look great in any orientation.
The battle for OS supremacy will continue until the end of time, but Android Oreo on the Pixel 2 brings some cool things that iOS doesn’t do. There’s a new search bar built into the bottom of the screen, an at-a-glance widget that shows upcoming appointments, traffic, and weather, and an always-on display for catching up on notifications as they arrive. But the best feature of all is Now Playing. Any time a song is playing loud enough for its microphone to hear, the Pixel 2 will identify it on your lock screen without needing to summon Assistant or launch Shazam.

5. Google Photos and Google Lens

pixel 2 google lens art indentification Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
Even in beta mode, Google Lens is cooler than anything Siri can do.
Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence is the best on the block, and nowhere is its lead more evident than in Google Photos. Along with full-sized backups, Assistant-powered memories, and best-in-class facial recognition, Google Photos on the Pixel 2 also includes a preview of Google Lens. When you tap to open a picture, you’ll see a new camera icon that will instantly launch Google’s new augmented-reality photo search tool. It’s still in beta form (and there are a lot of kinks to work out), but you’ll still be able to use it to identify things like buildings and paintings, scan URLs, and copy bits of text. And soon it’ll be built into Assistant, too, so you can use it whenever you’d like.

Reasons to buy iPhone 8 over a Pixel 2

1. Apple’s iconic design

iphone 8 stacked Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
The Pixel 2 can’t hold a candle to the iPhone 8’s design.
Few phones are on the same level as Apple when it comes to design, but the Pixel 2 isn’t even close. The Pixel 2 XL is the nicer of the two—particularly the two-tone tuxedo model—but it still pales in comparison to a gold iPhone 8. And the smaller Pixel 2 is downright ugly with its giant bezels and huge forehead and chin.

2. Internal storage

iPhone 8 and the Pixel 2 both start at 64GB, but the upper options are quite different. An extra $100 will get you 128GB with the Pixel, while Apple charges $150 for 256GB. Since neither phone lets you add an SD card for extra storage, we’d rather have more space inside.

3. Wireless charging

iPhone 8 wireless charging IDG
You can charge your iPhone 8 without plugging it in, but not the Pixel 2.
The back of the Pixel 2 might be prettier than the front, but there’s one problem: It’s made of aluminum. That means it doesn’t support wireless charging. iPhone 8’s Qi-friendly glass back wins here.

4. iOS 11

iOS 11 Control Center Daniel Masaoka
iOS 11 is awesome on iPhone 8.
Like Android Oreo on the Pixel, iPhone 8 is the perfect vessel for iOS 11. Not only are there cool new features such as AirPlay 2 and Apple Pay Cash, there are also new tweaks and surprises all throughout the interface. From the 3D Touchable Control Center to the redesigned App Store, easy screenshot sharing, and augmented reality capabilities, iOS 11 is the best version of Apple’s mobile operating system, and with an A11 processor and optimizations everywhere, there’s no better phone for it than the iPhone 8.

5. Display

iphone 8 and 8 plus 2up Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
It might not be OLED, but the iPhone 8’s screen is second-to-none.
Google’s OLED displays on the Pixel are fine, but Apple has hit the iPhone 8’s screen out of the park. No matter which size you choose, you’ll get an array of awesome tech: retina HD resolution, wide-color gamut, and 3D Touch. But the feature that puts the iPhone 8’s display over the top is True Tone, which dynamically adjusts the white balance based on the light around you. It basically makes all other screens look inferior.

iPad owners need to know this insider trick By Amanda Kooser,

When Apple delivered its new iOS 11 operating system in September, we received a bounty of new features, including improved ways to handle notifications, organize apps, and interact with Siri. But iPad users are in for a special treat. The new drag-and-drop ability in iOS 11 is tailor-made for multitasking tablet warriors, but it might take some getting used to.

Dive into the new iOS 11 features you will use all the time.

Get to know drag and drop

You’re already familiar with the basic idea of drag and drop from using any regular computer. For example, you write an email and drag a photo from a folder into the message window to attach it. Simple. So what’s the catch with iOS 11? Drag and drop has a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to using it on your iPad.

On your iPad, drag and drop works for moving text, images, links, and files from one app into another. For example, you can use this to drop a link or text from your Safari browser into an email or add a photo into a note.

Apple implemented drag and drop system-wide, so it works in a lot of places, including the Home screen, Calendar, Pages, Maps, Dock, Keynote, Spotlight, Reminders, and Numbers. While Apple has naturally embraced the new feature, not all third-party apps support it. As iOS 11 spends a little more time in the wild, expect more app developers to include the feature in future updates.

How to use drag and drop

It’s time to train your fingers. The easiest way to learn drag and drop is to give it a try. Here’s one example of how it works:
  1. Open up your Photos app, pick out a photo, and tap to open it. Hold your finger down on the photo and move it slightly until it lifts up and a thumbnail of the image appears under your fingertip.
  2. While still holding your finger down, use another finger to press the home button. Find the Notes app and click to open it (while still holding the photo with your first finger).
  3. Hold the photo over a note. When a small green circle with a plus sign appears, you can let go and the photo will drop into the note.

Drag and drop also works in split-screen view or slide-over view. If you’re having trouble with using drag and drop in a supported app, it may just be a matter of making sure your apps are updated after you’ve installed iOS 11. Visit the App Store and check if you have any updates available. Is a favorite app not working? Here's why some apps aren't compatible with iOS 11.

Become a drag-and-drop ninja

Now that you’ve got a handle on the basics of drag and drop, it’s time to get more advanced. You can select multiple items by touching the first item, holding it, moving it slightly (so it “separates” from the background), and then keeping your finger on it while tapping more items with a spare finger. A small circle will appear with the total number of items you’ve grouped together. You can then drop these items into another app.

Again, not every app supports all of the iOS 11 drag-and-drop capabilities, but Apple’s Photos app is a great place to test out the process by selecting multiple pictures and dropping them into another app.
One more tip: Using multiple fingers while dragging and dropping can feel a little awkward at first, but you can change fingers and still keep one or more items ready to drop. Just set your spare finger directly on the item (or stack) and let go with your first finger to change over.

Once you start playing around with drag and drop, you will find a lot of situations where it can come in handy. It makes the compact iPad feel a little bit more like a full-size computer.

Update: How to prevent a KRACK attack on your Wi-Fi By Francis Navarro,

If you've been following our Happening Now section, you've most likely heard of this newly discovered major vulnerability that affects WPA2, the current protocol of choice for Wi-Fi security.

It's a scary flaw since it can allow an attacker to intercept data from a nearby Wi-Fi network, including passwords, photos, credit card information, private messages, emails and web activity. Basically, anything that's normally protected and encrypted by the WPA2 standard.

It also infiltrates man-in-the-middle attacks that allow an intruder to insert malicious content such as ransomware to whatever website a connected gadget is visiting.

What is KRACK?

The alarming flaw was nicknamed KRACK - short for Key Reinstallation Attack.
Basically, this is how it works. An attacker can capture data from a nearby WPA2 protected Wi-Fi network by impersonating it and cloning its MAC address (a MAC address is a Wi-Fi gadget's unique network identifier).

Gadgets connecting to the original router can then be forced to connect to the attacker's clone network first.

Before the flaw was discovered, WPA2 clients were protected from this switcheroo since unique keys are required to encrypt each block of data. Simply put, the keys from the real and the fake network won't match, making the switch impossible.

However, KRACK uses a flaw in the WPA2 handshake system that allows the fake network to reuse the same encryption keys over and over and make them valid again.

And because it affects the Wi-Fi standard instead, it persists across every gadget that uses Wi-Fi but Android and Linux devices are more vulnerable since these systems don't require a unique WPA2 encryption key each time.

Macs, Windows PCs and iOS devices are affected to a lesser extent but data from these clients can still be decrypted.
However, since KRACK is all about faking an entire network, it can't be used to steal Wi-Fi passwords nor attack the router itself. It's more useful for stealing information, man-in-the-middle attacks and spying on network traffic.

How to protect yourself from KRACK

Well, KRACK is a really scary flaw indeed and it puts the once-trusted WPA2 security standard into a precarious position.

Fortunately, the flaw was disclosed to software and hardware companies back in July, months before it was publicly disclosed recently. This means patches to fix the flaw are already being deployed.

Update your gadgets
So first order of business - make sure you keep all your Wi-Fi enabled gadgets updated with the latest software available.

For example, Microsoft already included a security patch for it with October's Patch Tuesday security fixes so make sure you install those on your Windows devices as soon as you can.

Apple, too, although its machines are not severely affected by the KRACK vulnerabilities, will issue patches in the next few weeks.

Systems that are the most affected by KRACK are Android and Linux devices. Linux distros that are patched from the attack are now slowly rolling out as we speak.

Google stated that it will have its patches ready in the coming weeks but unfortunately, as with any Android update, it will be up to the gadget makers and carriers to roll them out.

Update your router's firmware
Router manufacturers like Cisco are already making their fixes available for their affected products. Make sure you check for any firmware update for your router and update it immediately.

In fact, although router manufacturers don't tell you, checking for the latest firmware for your router at least every three months is one essential step in protecting your network.

Click here and learn why updating your router's firmware regularly is important.

Stay away from public Wi-Fi networks
Since KRACK hackers need to be near a network to clone it, unless one of your neighbors is a top-shelf hacker, your home Wi-Fi network is likely safe for now.

What you need to stay away from, like we always say, are public Wi-Fi networks. Accessing your personal data through public Wi-Fi networks is bad as it is but KRACK just makes it worse.

Additionally, if you own an affected gadget, especially an Android device, that has not been patched yet, consider turning off its Wi-Fi for now and use cellular data instead.

Only visit secure websites
If you don't have any other connection option other than Wi-Fi and you desperately need to go online, make sure you only visit websites with secure encryption protocols like HTTPS.

With this, data that are traveling within the network would at least be shielded from a hacker's prying eyes. You can use this extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera called HTTPS Everywhere to make your browsing more secure.

For added Wi-Fi security, consider using a VPN

Another thing you could do, especially when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, is to use a VPN service. It's a good way to hide your internet tracks from would-be snoops, even KRACK hackers. Here are the best free VPN services you can try out now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to make sure you remove photos from iCloud Photo Library By Glenn Fleishman, Senior Contributor, Macworld

iCloud Photo Library can be very handy for accessing your photos. But it's another service you need to tend to if you decide to sell or give an iOS device to someone else.

Macworld reader Felipe has found this our. He bought an iPhone from a friend, who left himself logged in before handing the phone over.
iCloud Photo Library was on and I have synced some personal photos that I want to delete from his iCloud. I turned off iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream. Did that delete all the photos that were in the iPhone from his iCloud account?
What Felipe did left his new photos in his friend’s library in place. Turning off iCloud Photo Library from one device, so long as it remains turned on with any other, keeps all photos in place at iCloud. You have an option to delete them or retain on the device you’re using.

The way to remove photos from iCloud Photo Library is to delete them and then confirm when you’re told that the image will be deleted from all synced devices.

It’s a terrible idea to sell (or buy) a phone that hasn’t been wiped through Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Contents and Settings. Any apps purchased or downloaded from the App Store that remain on the phone are registered to the previous owner, which means that even if this was an effort to get some apps for free, you’re going to be notified about them on a regular basis and asked for the previous owner’s login. And you can wind up with media and settings detritus—as well as accidentally upload your personal photos to someone else’s iCloud Photo Library.

How to unlock an iOS device when you've forgotten your password or changed your account By Glenn Fleishman, Senior Contributor, Macworld

Apple's use of an Apple ID on iPads is something Apple does towards keeping your device secure.

But it can also be problematic, especially if you have multiple Apple IDs and can't remember the user names or passwords for them all.

Macworld reader Mae ran into an Apple ID problem when using her iPad. An Activation Lock suddenly appeared on screen.
Now I am not sure on what Apple ID I used to set up the iPad. I also forgot its password, because I’m using a different Apple ID. The message that appears is “This iPad is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password that were used to set up this iPad,” followed by the email address.
I have a variety of bad news:
  • Activation Lock only appears if someone erased an iOS device.
  • Without the password to that account, the iPad will be unusable forever. That’s the point of Activation Lock.
However, as long as you still have access to either the email address associated with that Apple ID or any trusted device associated with that account, you should be able to reset the password and log in: follow Apple’s instructions.
ios11 find my iphone ipad watch activiation lock hero Apple
Activation Lock protects your device after its been erased. But you might be locked out forever if you lose access to your Apple ID-associated email accounts.
As to why the iPad was erased? There’s apparently a wave of blackmail going around that involves using weak passwords revealed in password database cracks elsewhere. Many people employ short and easily guessed or cracked passwords, and use them at multiple sites. I’ve heard wind that some people’s Macs are being locked with a messages to pay a fee to obtain the unlock code.

With iOS, you can’t lock a device in such a way that it’s owner can’t unlock it with the device password. But you can erase it, which seems like vandalism instead of blackmail.

If your Apple ID or iCloud password is only eight characters or so long or is very simple (like a word and one piece of punctuation), I recommend picking a better one immediately, even if you don’t know that your account information might have been revealed in the breach of another site.

3 ways to craft great passwords based on new research By Kevin Downey,

What's the biggest hassle of the digital era? Almost of all of us can agree: passwords.

It's so frustrating to be stopped midstream during the workday to reset passwords. It's worse when you're in a rush at home, maybe to book a flight or pay a bill and all of a sudden you see, "Incorrect password."
This huge headache is so commonplace that we just grit our teeth, waste up to 15 minutes and go through the ordeal of creating new passwords. You click "forgot password" and get an email with a link to a new one.

If this is your everyday life, you'll love to hear this. We finally have some good news about passwords: They can be far less complex than the long combination of letters, numbers and symbols that we now associate with online safety.

Bonus: Keep reading for a few suggestions to create easy-to-remember but difficult-to-guess passwords.

What you’ve been doing wrong

There's a reason we've been conditioned to think strong passwords resemble something like $%TH512K!&&. It started in 2003 with guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The group promoted difficult-to-remember, random combinations of numbers, letters and symbols. The concept is a good one: If you have trouble remembering your passwords, then hackers will have difficulty guessing them.

You won't believe this! The NIST employee who created those guidelines now said he regrets it. He doesn't regret it because it's a bad idea.

He regrets it because it's not practical. It is difficult for people to remember passwords. It's also difficult for website publishers to monitor passwords.

For instance, we all know PASSWORD is an easy password for hackers to guess. But it's probably just as easy to guess a similar one that complies with the NIST standards, like P@ssword1.

Passwords should withstand 100 guesses

Do you know how easy it is for a hacker to guess your password? This is alarming.

Hackers can guess the average person's password nearly 73 percent of the time when they know some information about you. Just think about the massive data breaches we've been telling you about, like the recent one at Equifax that affected millions of people.

A lot of your personal information is already in hackers' hands. That includes passwords you've used on other sites.

If you're like most people, you often use some variation of the same password, like Party!Animal1, then Party!Animal2. That makes it incredibly easy for hackers to guess your passwords.

It wouldn't be hard for anyone to guess that your next password might be Party!Animal3. Researchers from Lancaster University, Peking University and Fujian Normal University, who conducted the study, suggest that websites cut off hackers sooner than the current suggested cutoff of 100 guesses.

Bonus: You're still going to have many passwords to remember, although it will be less of a hassle than it is now. You might want to sign up for a password manager, like Dashlane.

Password managers can create strong passwords for you. They also store many passwords behind one password. Once you sign into your password manager, you can see all the other passwords you've stored there.

Your new password guidelines

NIST now says your password can be easy to remember and still be extremely difficult for hackers to guess. This is something Kim Komando has long advocated: Use a phrase that only you'll remember, instead of a complex group of numbers, letters and symbols.

Use something you'll remember like, MySecondSonsNameIsPeter. What hacker will ever guess that?
NIST goes further with its newly released guidelines to make passphrases easier to remember and harder to guess. They recommend allowing passphrases to include spaces in between words. The new guidelines will allow you to use up to 64 characters.

So, say goodbye to ^JJKL1!!lkjlj#. Instead, you might create a passphrase such as, I love the Kim Komando podcasts. That's much more user-friendly and precisely the point behind NIST issuing new guidelines.

Bonus: Why “ilovefreshsashimituna” is a great password

The one security setting to always turn on

Do you use Facebook? How about Google? Do you log into your bank account and credit cards online?

Of course, you do. We all access an incredible amount of personal information online every day. Hackers and criminals want access to all of it and, as we've seen with the Equifax data breach, hackers have lots of information about you.

Here is one, simple security tip to keep your personal information secure. Don't worry: Click here and we'll walk you through just a few steps to set it up!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cutting the Cable explodes: Here's what you need to know By Mark Jones,

 "Cutting the cord" is a popular trend that isn't only getting stronger. More people than ever are getting rid of cable or satellite TV and turning to online streaming services.

It makes total sense when you think about how expensive your cable bill can be. Since there are many quality streaming services available, it's difficult to justify paying a hefty monthly bill. But you need to know what you're doing to get the best value.

Why there are more cord cutters than ever

Americans are canceling cable subscriptions at an alarmingly fast pace. Research firm eMarketer released the following forecasts, indicating that cord-cutting is exploding faster than previously thought.
  • In 2017, around 22.2 million U.S. adults will have cut the cord on cable, satellite or telephone company TV services. This number is up 33 percent from 16.7 million cord-cutters in 2016.
  • Despite the rise in cord-cutters, 196.3 million U.S. adults will still have a traditional pay-TV service with cable, satellite or telephone companies this year but this number is down 2.4 percent compared to 2016.
  • By 2021, it is projected that U.S. adults who still have traditional pay TV with cable, satellite or telephone companies will drop even further to 181.7 million, an almost 10 percent decline from 2016.
  • By 2021, the number of cord-cutters will almost equal the number of people who are "cord-nevers" (or people who've never subscribed to pay TV) - a total of 81 million U.S. adults.
Now that you know cutting the cord can be a great way to save money, you should think about making the move yourself. But you need to know the right steps to take so you get the best service at the most affordable price.

Step 1: Get an antenna

If cutting the cord is a move that you want to make, you'll need to add an HD antenna to your system. This will allow you to pick up local channels, and several others, that will let you watch live TV for free. You might be surprised at how many free channels you can pick up with an HD antenna.

With an HD antenna, you can pick up over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, PBS, ION and many others. Many of the most popular television shows, along with sporting events and local news, are broadcast on OTA television in High Definition. FOR FREE!
But which HD antenna should you get? Here are a couple great options.

Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Multidirectional Range
The HDTV attic-outdoor antenna offers a completely new take on a traditionally mounted system. With its sleek, minimalistic design, the multi-directional antenna can bring high-quality programming to your TV without having to deal with a bulky, unsightly antenna that is difficult to install.

Reduce clutter, save money, and get high-quality HDTV with the amplified outdoor antenna.

This advanced system provides uncompressed HD broadcast to multiple televisions in a home with a range of 60 miles! You no longer have to settle for a large, bulky, or more expensive rooftop-mounted antenna.

Click here to purchase the Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Multi-directional Range from Kim's Shop.

Komando™ Indoor Amplified HD Antenna
The Komando™ Indoor Amplified HD Antenna is a razor-thin antenna that is easy to set up and brings you over-the-air broadcasts from major networks. No monthly fees, subscriptions or contracts!

You can continue to enjoy your favorite top-rated shows from prime time, along with news, sports, documentaries and, of course, cooking shows! Everything you need to get started is included in the box.

This is one of the best-selling items in Kim's Shop. In fact, we only have a handful of open-box items left in stock. This is a great opportunity for you to pick one up at an incredibly reduced price! Click here to purchase our open-box Indoor HD Antenna for just $49.95.

Bonus: We've also rounded up some additional indoor antenna options you can choose from. Click here to see our top picks in every style!

Step 2: Choose the streaming service that's best for you

One huge mistake cord cutters can make is signing up for too many services. This can add up to a huge monthly expense and defeats the purpose of cord cutting to begin with.

Instead, you need to decide which channels are important to you and which streaming services offer them. Don't worry, we've done the research for you.

We've created a comparison chart showing which channels are offered on each service. Here's a small preview:
That's not the entire list of channels on the chart. Click here to see the complete list of streaming service channel lineups.

Step 3: Select a streaming media gadget

There are two types of steaming gadgets: set-top boxes and HDMI sticks. HDMI sticks are the size of USB drives and plug right into your TV's HDMI port. That means less clutter in your entertainment center and they're also cheaper. Click here to see a chart comparing HDMI sticks.

Streaming boxes are larger and more expensive but tend to be more powerful. Click here to see a chart comparing popular streaming boxes.

These are the basic steps that you need to cut the cord. Now you have the tools you need to start saving up to hundreds of dollars per year.

How to pick the best printer for your money By Komando Staff,

Whether you print hundreds of pages each month or just a few projects here and there, you need a reliable printer. But not all printers are created equal. This helpful guide from our sponsor, Epson, will tell you how to choose the one that's right for you.
Right now, there are two basic types of printers for the regular consumer, the laser printer and the inkjet printer. But did you know that there's a newer, revolutionary way of printing that could save you a significant amount of cash in the long run?

Read on to find out.

Laser printers

Laser printers use technology similar to photocopiers. A rotating drum creates the image with static electricity that attracts the toner. This toner is then quickly baked into the page using hot fusers.
For black text on plain paper, laser printers are a good choice. They print faster than inkjet printers and they render small, fine text better. Although the initial cost of laser printers is a bit higher than comparable inkjet printers, toner replacements, in the long run, are cheaper than inkjet cartridges.
If you print tons of mostly monochrome text, then a monochrome laser printer is the way to go.

Inkjet printers

Inkjet printers draw pages by forcing liquid ink through microscopic nozzles. For all around, multi-use color printing, inkjet printers are the way to go since they could render photos better than laser printers.

Consumer inkjet printer units are also cheaper than laser printers and they usually come with starter cartridges to get you printing right away. The downside is that replacement inkjet cartridges are more expensive than their laser toner counterparts so their operation costs may add up more in time. Inkjet printers are also slower than laser printers.

For home multi-purpose printing, be it text, photos or labels, inkjet printers are the preferred choice.

EcoTank Printers

Now, how about an inkjet printer that will let you refill its high capacity tank yourself, saying goodbye to those expensive ink cartridge replacements?

Epson's new line of revolutionary EcoTank SuperTank printers will let you do exactly that!
With yields of up to 11,000 black and white pages or 8,500 in color out of the box, Epson's EcoTank printers forego the use of the traditional inkjet cartridges by using their own user refillable high capacity tanks. Compared to the mere 500 black and 450 color pages you get from even the high capacity inkjet cartridges, this is an extremely significant improvement.

Replacement EcoTank ink sets are much, much cheaper too. A complete EcoTank set will set you back about $58 with yields of up to 6,500 pages. A complete color inkjet set for a comparable non-EcoTank printer will cost about $150 and that will only yield up to 2,300 pages. That's a whopping 80 percent savings compared to traditional inkjet cartridges.

The initial cost of the Epson's EcoTank line of printers may be a bit steeper than conventional inkjet printers but they more than make up for it in the long run. Epson estimates that with the initial ink that comes with EcoTank printers, an average user won't need replacement ink for two years!

Epson's EcoTank lineup currently has two home all-in-one models (ET-2500 and the ET-2555 with an added 1.44" LCD screen), two for business printing (ET-4500 and the ET-4550) and one for high volume, heavy duty business printing (WF-R4640).

The iPhone 8's best feature is one that most people will never get to use By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

I've had my iPhone 8 Plus for a little over a fortnight now, and amidst all the new features and functions, there's one feature that's head and shoulders above everything else.

See also: iOS 11 battery life is terrible | Everything you need to know about charging your iPhone 8 | What's it like using the world's fastest smartphone? | Secure your iPhone and iPad: Change these iOS 11 privacy and security settings now
That feature is fast charging. Seems like a simple feature, but it's revolutionized the way that I use my iPhone.

The battery has always been the iPhone's biggest weakness. Partly that's down to Apple wanting to make the iPhone as thin as possible, but given that our smartphones are something that we have with us 24/7/365, and how much we use it for work and entertainment, I don't think that battery life could be raised to a point where it wouldn't be a problem.

But fast charging has changed all that. In fact, it's changed how I use my iPhone.

My iPhone used to spend a lot of time on charge. Between the charger in the office, the charger in my living room, the charger in the gym, the charger in my bedroom, and the charging cradle in the car, it amounted to many hours a day (and that excludes the sneaky recharges I'd have to give it from my powerbank every so often).

Now that's all changed. When I get in the office in the morning I hook my iPhone up to the USB-C fast charger and give it about 30 minutes to a hour, depending on how busy I am and whether I need to use it, by which point it's pretty close to being fully charged, if not at 100 percent. From that point on I toss it on the wireless charger to keep it topped up.

Normally, that's enough to keep my iPhone going all day. And that's despite the fact that under iOS 11, iPhone battery life is pretty terrible.

If I'm out and about I can also make use of fast charging using my Power Delivery compatible power bank (such as the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C powerbank), which is just as fast as hooking it up to a main-powered fast charger.

It's a real shame that most owners will never get to experience fast charging. Apple bundled a standard charger and cable with the new iPhone, which means that to make use of fast charging owners will need Apple's crazy-expensive $25 USB-C to Lightning cable, and a Power Delivery compatible charger.

Apple chose to put profit ahead of convenience.

Most people simply won't make the investment in fast charging hardware (at least not until it becomes mainstream and there are cheaper third-party USB-C to Lightning cables available), and that's a real shame, because it's the iPhone 8's best feature.

Windows 10: If you're still running this older version, it's now time to upgrade By Liam Tung

If you're still running Windows 10 version 1511, also known as the Windows 10 November Update, you may want to upgrade now.

This version will no longer receive security updates after 10 October, Microsoft said in a support note urging users to install the latest version Windows 10, which is currently the Creators Update from April.
The end of support for Windows 10 version 1511 comes a week ahead of the planned launch of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update or version 1709.

The remaining supported versions of Windows 10 include the Anniversary Update (1607) and the Creators Update (1703). Tentative dates that these versions will no longer receive security patches are March 2018 and September 2018, respectively.

Even though support for version 1511 officially ends tomorrow, Microsoft has been notifying and nudging users on this version as well as the original version 1507 to upgrade to the Creators Update. Support for version 1507 ended in May.

As Microsoft explained earlier this year, it was prompting users on older version of Windows 10 to review their privacy settings as part of a process to initiate an update to the Creators Update. Users could still control when the update is installed, but could only postpone the privacy review five times.
The end of support for version 1511 affects Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Education, and Windows 10 Enterprise.

Despite continuing to support older versions of Windows 10, Microsoft is encouraging users to install the latest version on the grounds that it has added new security features that weren't included in prior versions.

"Since version 1511 was released in November 2015, Microsoft has released additional feature updates that build upon each other, delivering the newest features and more comprehensive security.
"Windows 10 was designed as a service, whereby feature updates are required a couple times a year," it notes.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Best Smart Doorbell Camera by Wirecutter

Wirecutter supports our readers with thousands of hours of reporting and testing to help you find the stuff you need in order to live a better life. You support us through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Read more about what we do here.

The Best Smart Doorbell Camera

We spent weeks testing seven popular DIY smart doorbell cameras, including the latest models plus models we’d previously tested and have been updated with the latest firmware, and we still think the SkyBell HD is the best one for most people due to its high-quality 1080p video, easy-to use app, and prompt response time between event and notification. SkyBell also beats others in value by offering a week of cloud storage for videos without a subscription fee. Whether you’re at home or away, the SkyBell HD sends reliable alerts to your smartphone when visitors arrive or packages are delivered, lets you talk to visitors through its speaker and microphone, and can even record suspicious activity, day or night, around your door or entryway.

Our pick

SkyBell HD

The best doorbell camera

Effective motion detection, high-quality video, full night vision, a live-view feature, and an easy-to-use app make this the best doorbell camera for most people.
The SkyBell HD’s built-in motion-detection sensor proved more reliable than others we tested, and SkyBell has tweaked the model’s capabilities since our previous update to this guide—when motion is detected, the camera now saves a few seconds of video from before the motion occurred. This means that you can see more of the event that triggered the motion sensor, making it more useful than other doorbell cameras. (With some other cameras, it’s fairly common to catch the backside of a person who has triggered the doorbell as he or she walks away.) The week’s worth of free video storage means you can go on vacation and still have a record of what happened on your front porch—without having to pay for that record. Customizable LEDs, plus integration with popular connected-home products and ecosystems, such as Amazon Echo, SmartThings, Works with Nest, and IFTTT, means that SkyBell HD is more likely to work with other smart devices you may already have.


Ring Video Doorbell

A reliable, wire-free option, but only basic features

The original Ring doorbell is still a good product, is a bit cheaper than others, and can run on battery or wired power, but it records in only 720p and requires a $3 monthly subscription for storing video.
The original Ring Video Doorbell costs a bit less than our other picks, though you’ll need to pay for a monthly subscription fee if you want it to record videos for later viewing. Its video and sound quality aren’t as good as those of either the SkyBell HD or our upgrade pick, the Ring Pro, but it has the basic features that anyone buying a connected doorbell could want, including motion detection, the option to connect to the doorbell (from your smartphone or tablet) to see a live view of what’s happening at the door, and night-vision capability. Because it can use batteries, it’s easy for renters to install. It also has slightly faster notifications.

Upgrade pick

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Smaller design and reliable connections are a draw

This is one of the smallest video doorbells you can buy, and the most consistent and smallest model we tested, but installation can be tricky, and it requires a subscription to store and view historical video.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $240.
If you don’t mind paying a monthly subscription fee, and you’re okay performing an installation (or paying someone else to do it) that requires you to locate and rewire your doorbell slightly, then consider the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It’s the most expensive system we tested, but it records video in 1080p (though with a slightly narrower field of view than the standard Ring Video Doorbell), it has more-granular motion sensitivity settings than our top pick, and, of all the doorbells we tested, it was the most consistent in terms of its ability to quickly establish and open a connection from the doorbell to the phone. It can connect with IFTTT, it has an Amazon Echo Skill, and it works with SmartThings and Wink, but not Nest. The only reason it isn’t our top choice is that you must pay a subscription fee to see recordings of your missed events and calls, and the installation is less DIY-friendly.