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Consider Benefits of Owning a ‘Burner Phone’

burner-phone

Despite all the buzz surrounding the new iPhone, many are considering something on the other end of the spectrum: a cheap, disposable, and prepaid mobile phone.

OK, so these “burner phones,” as they’re often referred to, may be an addendum to your pricey smartphone rather than a replacement for it, but these devices have some desirable benefits.

Maintains your privacy

While you might think a "burner phone" is something only a criminal may use to avoid being tracked by authorities – such as the drug dealers on a show like The Wire – law-abiding citizens may also appreciate the privacy awarded by a burner phone.

For example, you might not want to use your main phone number if you’re posting items on Craigslist or another classifieds site. After all, you’re opening up the possibility of unwanted calls or texts from strangers on your personal line. Instead, when the transactions are completed, you can simply dump (or “burn”) the temporary phone.

Burner phones are also desirable to those who use dating apps, as you might not want to give out your primary number to someone you don’t end up with. Sure, you can block someone on your main phone, but they could still contact you from another number.

Burner phones can be bought with cash and with no contract, plus providers that sell these devices don’t track personal data. Anonymity isn’t fully guaranteed, however, as burner phones can still be located over a cellular network by the temporary phone number, or logged whenever you call someone else’s phone via their carrier.

Other advantages

Aside from privacy, there are other reasons why you might consider a burner phone:

  • For emergencies: Thanks to a FCC mandate, every mobile phone must be able to dial 9-1-1 – even if you aren’t signed up with a carrier. Heck, you don’t even need a SIM card in the phone. And so a practical application for a cheap burner phone is to keep it for emergency purposes only. Toss it into your glove box and you’ll know it’s there, just in case.
  • Back-up phone: While some burner phones have some advanced features, most are barebones devices used for calls or texts only. Because most these devices don’t have big screens and advanced radios like 4G/LTE and GPS, they likely boast much longer battery life than a premium smartphone. This could be ideal for travelers, perhaps, or at least as a back-up phone if your main device’s battery peters out.
  • Low cost: Price is a good motivator, too. Rather than spend upwards of $850 for the latest iOS or premium Android device, pre-paid burner phones could be as low as $20 for the Motorola EX431G Tracfone, which includes a full physical keyboard and free double minutes for life. If you prefer a compact flip phone, the Samsung Entro is roughly $20 while the Kyocera Coast Prepaid Phone is $35. Pro tip: While your burner phone doesn’t have access to data, many social networks like Twitter and Facebook have a SMS option, so you can still be notified to get updates via text message.

There’s an app for that

Those who like the idea of a burner phone but aren’t quite ready to pick one up might consider an app like Burner, which allows you to create multiple numbers on your main smartphone. You might want one number for work, another for personal use, and a third for classifieds, shopping, dating, and so on.

Available at the App Store and Google Play, Burner is free to download and free to try. Additional time and numbers are available by in-app purchase (from $1.99) or a subscription for $4.99/month, which enables one burner line with unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages for one month. Be aware, however, phone calls use up your regular mobile phone minutes.

Read Article (Marc Saltzman | msn.com | 08/18/2016)

Europeans hold individual data privacy very high, which is not the case in the US. Some have begun to wonder, do they have it right? Well, only time will tell, though critics in the US say they’ve got it wrong, not surprising. But they also have trust in their government which is also not the case in the US. Analyze that!

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Debut of Apple iPhone 7 Expected Next Week

Apple-iPhone-7

Apple is expected to show off a new iPhone next week when the company holds its autumn product launch event in San Francisco.

They sent invites for the event on Monday without confirming any details of the new product but traditionally announces one or two new iPhone models at its annual September event. It may also show new models or features for other products such as the Apple Watch or Macbook computer.

The Cupertino, California, company sold more than 214m iPhones over the past year. But sales are down from a year ago, and analysts will be watching closely to see what changes Apple has made in the newest models.

Industry sources expect the new smartphones to have no headphone jack, instead relying on headphones that connect wirelessly through Bluetooth or using the lightning connector. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said on Thursday that the move was “going to tick off a lot of people”. “I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music,” he told the Australian Business Review.

Apple is currently fending off a lawsuit brought by owners of the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus who claim a design defect is causing the phones’ touch screens to become unresponsive and making them unusable.

According to a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit filed Saturday, Apple has long been aware of the defect, which often surfaces after a flickering gray bar appears atop the touch screens, but has refused to fix it. The issue has been dubbed Touch Disease by iFixit, a repair company.

The plaintiffs linked the problem to Apple’s decision not to use a metal “shield” or “underfill” to protect the relevant parts, as it did on versions of the iPhone 5.

“The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touchscreen defect,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California.

Todd Cleary of California, Jun Bai of Delaware and Thomas Davidson of Pennsylvania are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which accuses Apple of fraud and violating California consumer protection laws. They seek unspecified damages.

Apple did not immediately respond on Monday to a request for comment.

Read Article (Reuters | theguardian.com | 08/29/2016)

Even though smartphone sales are down, that’s no reason for Apple not to respond to this product malfunction. If for no other reason, they owe it to their customers.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is Stellar but Pricey

Stellar-but-Pricey

Samsung’s latest large-screened phone, the Note 7, is the latest addition to the stylus-toting premium phone line. Samsung provided The Washington Post with a review device. Overall, this phone is gorgeous and a productivity machine. But its high price tag may put some people off.

In terms of features, the Note 7 offers smartphone users the full package. Samsung’s screens are known to be stunning and this phone is no exception, with deep blacks and bright colors that give a vivid — if not always natural — picture.

Its 5.7-inch screen is noticeably big, making video viewing a pleasure. Even with a big screen, the phone doesn’t feel too bulky in-hand. I’m a rather small person, and while I definitely can’t tap the top of the screen while holding the phone one-handed, it didn’t feel too heavy to use. The phone’s call quality was good, as was the overall audio performance.

The Note 7 boasts a battery life similar to the Galaxy S7. I didn't get as much time with this device before writing as I have with others, so it's hard to make a final determination on the accuracy of that claim. But I feel safe saying that the Note 7 will get you through a normal day of use. But if you're doing something battery intensive — say, Pokémon Go? — you may still want to take an extra charger.

Like its older siblings, the Note 7 can be charged wirelessly using Samsung’s charging pad. It also has a “fast charging” mode that gives you a lot of juice in a short period of time. One key difference, however, is that the Note 7 has a USB-C charger. The upside of this is that you can plug the cord in either way — the cord will never be upside-down for the port. The downside is that you can’t use the old cords from your other Samsung devices to power it up directly.

The Note 7 also boasts a waterproof design. I dunked my review unit in the sink, and also used it (with the stylus, even) under running water with no ill effects. I wouldn’t recommend making a habit of using it underwater — the phone does pop up a little warning if the power port gets wet — but you don’t have to freak out if you drop your phone in a puddle.

The retina scanner

One of the big new features on the Note 7 is a retina scanner. To activate, you have to swipe up from the lock screen. When you scan your eyes, an LED light blinks — but don't worry, it doesn’t blind you at all. The phone still scanned fine with my contacts and my glasses, though the glasses did take a little longer. Still, it was faster than typing in a password — which the phone does still ask you to set up as a backup security method.

Is the retina scanner any better than the fingerprint scanner? Honestly, not really. The retina scanner works well, but so does the fingerprint scanner. This is a big phone, so the retina scanner does make unlocking it feel a little more stable, but if you're happy with your fingerprint you probably won’t see a compelling reason to switch.

The pen

The standout feature of the Note line in general is the S Pen, or stylus, that tucks neatly into the bottom of the smartphone. Samsung has made the pen more and more useful over the years, and Note 7 users can easily take handwritten notes, or annotate images on their phone.

The pen is fast and fluid, and almost as good as taking notes by hand in terms of responsiveness. I’m still faster with pen and paper myself, but it’s hard to deny the convenience advantage of being able to jot down a note on your phone. The Note 7 (like its predecessor) also lets you take notes directly on the lock screen, in case you have to write something down very quickly. If you like having a pen on hand, this may be the greatest selling point of the Note 7.

As compared to ...

Many reviews have hailed this as Samsung’s most beautiful phone yet, and that’s a fair assessment. I’d agree that the Note 7 is, all-around, better than the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, just in terms of features it offers.

In terms of performance, the Note 7 is on par with the top smartphones out there. There is a video going around showing the iPhone 6s beating the Note 7 in a speed test. My own benchmarking gave the out-of-the-box Note 7 a slight edge over my year-old iPhone overall. In practical terms, I noticed that the Note 7 opens and (in particular) switches between programs with a less snap than the iPhone or the Galaxy S7 — but not enough to call it “lag.”

Not to mention, a phone’s worth isn’t solely in its numbers. It’s hardly enough to discount what is an otherwise gorgeous phone. Its only real drawback? The price. The Note 7 is up to $900 unlocked though carriers are offering deals of their own. At that price, you may reasonably expect it to blow past all other competitors. And while it edges out other phones on the market, that price tag may give you pause.

Read Article (Hayley Tsukayama | washingtonpost.com | 08/23/2016)

I agree with Hayley, though this is an absolutely awesome machine it has a draw-back, the price. And not being one who’s life revolves around a smartphone, there’s no way I would pay this price.

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Leak Reveals Galaxy Note 7’s One Key Advantage

Galaxy-Note-7

Putting aside the discussion over potential screen sizesdesign echoes of previous handsets, and the tweaks to Samsung’s Android UI, the upcoming phablet from the South Korean manufacturer has one key advantage over the rest of the Galaxy family which will help it stand out in the internal competition with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

The S-Pen.

As Samsung rationalizes its production chain, focuses on more cost-effective marketing, and looks to create a connected set of devices, it is only natural that the phablet is going to start looking more like the base handset and the innovative brother with the curved screen. The glass design, the iconography, the physical buttons, everything is played out the same field.

The Note range already has its fans, attracted by the larger screen and the highest possible specifications on a Samsung device. They are going to be very satisfied with the expected package, although it looks like the Note 7 is going to ship with the same 3600 mAh battery as the S7 Edge - which is lower than the hoped-for 4000 mAh. The challenge is not how to sell to the faithful, but how to reach beyond that group and boost sales of the device.

Although the S-Pen is not a new addition to the phablet, as the Note 7 design moves towards the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, it acts as a clear point of difference. The jump in screen size between the S7 Edge and the Note 7 is appreciable, but when you lay the handsets out on the retail shelves, only one of them will have a stylus fashionably lying over the touchscreen.

The perceived value of a stylus has grown over the last year. Both Microsoft (with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book) and Apple (with the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil)  have pushed the idea of creativity and consumption of media with a stylus. Samsung might be forgiven for feeling a touch chagrined because it has been saying this for years, but the smart thing is turn this around to its own benefit.

The latest information is that the South Korean company will be doing just that. The S-Pen for the Note 7 will have improved BlueTooth LE hardware to allow for more accuracy and features to be utilized by the phablet. Air Command, which is triggered by the S-Pen, will have new options to create a better input experience without actually touching the screen.

The Galaxy Note 7 is expected to be announced on August 2nd, with an appearance in US, South Korean and European retail markets shortly afterwards.

Read Article (Ewan Spence | forbes.com | 06/21/2016)

In an amazing age of technology, it’s so unfortunate that not everyone knows how best to use it to their best advantage.

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After Nice, France Fights Fear With Social Media

France-Fights-Fear

Driving a truck, full speed into Nice’s busy promenade on Bastille Day one Tunisian man inflicted the “worst tragedy” in the modern history of the Cote d’Azur’s capital city. After November’s deadly Paris attacks and the linked March bombings in nearby Belgium, such tragic scenarios have become sadly familiar to the people of France.

With that familiarity, France’s people have set up their own crisis protocols. Sylvain Lapoix, journalist and now social media activist knows this better than most. Within less than an hour of the truck ploughing into Nice’s crowded Promenade des Anglais on Thursday Sylvain Lapoix’s hashtag #PorteOuverte (Open Door) was the top trend in France. Its purpose was to bring together those fleeing the site of attacks with those willing to give them temporary accommodation until it was safe to go outside.

“I came back to my flat on Thursday night after having a drink and I saw those tweets from Nice about what had happened,” Lapoix says. “Then someone sent me a direct message that just read ‘Go Sylvain, Go!’ and I jumped in.”

Via the hashtag, Lapoix, and some of his friends and followers, retweet every request for shelter near the site of an attack and every offer for shelter, in the hope that one click on the trending phrase will be able to connect anyone stranded in the chaos with someone offering them an “open door” nearby.

“Something I have learned in crises like these are that as a civilian there are two ways to help online. The first way to help is just not making things worse. Don’t spread hate online, don’t spread false information or speculation,” Lapoix says. “The second way to help is just to share something useful like shelter or even just a positive word.”

Since November Lapoix has inadvertently become a kind of spokesman for the phrase which he coined but says he did not technically create. “With #PorteOuverte I was the first one to come up with that particular term, but the solidarity was already there,” Lapoix says.

The hashtag was set up during the Paris attacks by Lapoix as numerous attacks began hitting cafes and places of leisure in the city, leaving many without an apartment nearby, afraid to stay outside and afraid to go indoors. Lapoix was cooking in his Paris flat when the first reports of a blast in the Stade de France stadium came in. He logged on to Twitter to find out what was happening, frantically checking his texts and messenger apps to make sure his loved ones were OK.

Within 20 minutes, shooting and explosions had been reported in five sites in central Paris, including the Bataclan concert venue where the largest part of the carnage took place.

“After the attack I was invited on a news TV show to talk about it and the host asked me how I felt that this needed to be done, that it would become something huge,” Lapoix says. “I didn’t feel anything. I just saw one-person tweet that they are lost and they gave their address and then I saw someone else on my feed, writing ‘if you are in this place, you can get in my house for safety.’ They happened to be near and I just thought here are two people who will never meet if they do not have the same newsfeed as I do.”

“There is demand for shelter and there is an offer and they cannot meet,” Lapoix says. “I just coined a phrase and put them in touch. That is all I did. And the host of the show was looking at me like I had some sort of epiphany. I just coined a term and then it got out of my hands in a very good way because everyone started doing the same.”

The hashtag was used during the Brussels attacks, and in Nice, although no follow-up attack occurred, it was not only used but became the top trend within minutes of the reports of the attack, thanks to people across France and abroad understanding how it works.

“There is one very specific thing that makes a huge difference between what happened during the Nice attack and Paris and Brussels,” Lapoix says. “For the first time the hashtag was eventually used by local authorities. Nice Matin, one of the biggest local papers coined the local hashtag #PortesOuvertesNice, which was then relayed by the Nice local authorities.”

Lapoix’s hashtag had become shorthand for civilian crisis response. And it was not the only one. Before long, #RechercheNice became an emerging hashtag, with people posting images of loved ones they had been separated from in the chaos of the events at the promenade. The national Gendarmerie, now aware many were likely looking to their phones, tablets and computers for answers, began tweeting instructions in five languages. With the death toll varying drastically from reports and a hoax video of the Eiffel Tower on fire spreading, speculation was rife. Even Parisian police kept an eye on Nice social media space, quickly debunking that an attack had hit the capital's landmark on Twitter. What had been learned from Paris and Brussels was being implemented swiftly.

“Sadly, people are now used to the threat but they also realise the importance of social media and they are more demanding for information,” Lapoix says. “There were complaints that the Safety Check feature on Facebook was too slow to activate,” he says referring to the social media’s site’s tool, asking anyone in the vicinity of an attack or disaster, indicate they are safe. The feature was widely used and praised during the Paris attacks.

“The taxi companies pretty much decided to give free rides but the news didn’t flow through the prefecture or the mayor. The companies communicated it on social media,” he adds.

Beirut-born Joseph Ayoubm, 27, was among those offering shelter in Nice. He was living in Paris during the Paris attacks and says he was impressed with how quickly the Cote d’Azur city mobilized.

“Once the information was official, the response from everyone was quite impressive,” Ayoubm says. “I think it is because we were preparing for something like this to happen, with France hosting the Euro football championship. We saw what happened in Paris and we already lived this once. People knew what was effective and what wasn't.”

Ayoubm and his girlfriend were quick to offer shelter via #PortesOuvertesNice, but nobody called on them, as there were several hotels nearby including hotel Mercure. He became a French citizen five years ago and believes the country will outlast the violent threat that has shed blood across the continent’s big cities.

“I grew up knowing we have to live with that in Beirut,” he says. “Now it feels like we're going also to live with that in France. I'm a positive person, so you cry for one night, and you move forward. It's easy to say and hard to do. But it's not a couple of fanatics who are going to teach us how to live.”

Alizée, 17, also joined the campaign, offering shelter. “If I was in the same situation I would love to see people involved like I was and to offer some help to me,” she says. “I was so impressed, that night and I was wondering If someone would do this hashtag, like during the attack in Paris. I agree that French people are very united (now) but the government need to do their job too.”

The investigation into why the Nice attack happened is ongoing and the French government is already faced with much pressure from the opposition to explain how they allowed another attack to end in the death of innocent civilians in the middle of a French metropolis. According to Lapoix however, people are creating their own crisis response.

“I am proud of coming up with a positive word in the middle of this mess. The real heroes are the ones offering help and shelter,” Lapoix says. “Emotionally you can never prepare for this unless you’re a Special Force agent, a navy seal or Jack Bauer. But practically you can learn what to do,” he adds.

“What I have learned is that people are truly amazing sometimes. Just give them the right tool and they can make anything happen,” Lapoix says.

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

In times of crisis such as this, the human spirit can be truly amazing though tasks the need to be accomplished may be depressing. Not surprisingly, there are many a harsh word in the comments.

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