Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Smartphone Literacy: Understanding Feature Terms


If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, you might feel like you need a geek-to-English dictionary just to understand the lingo. Some also have been faking it, acting as it they have some geek in them and know this lingo, you just might know one or two. Megapixel this, gigahertz that, terabyte this. All this could make your head spin. Am I right?

If you’re one of the many looking to upgrade your smartphone this summer – but need a bit of help to understand what all the tech specs mean — look no further than this following glossary of popular mobile terms and acronyms.

4K: Many new smartphones have a rear-facing camera that can shoot “4K,” which refers to video with four times the resolution of 1080p HD. In other words, the video contains more than 8 million pixels (little dots) compared to roughly 2 million. You’ll best appreciate this bump up in detail when playing back the video on a 4K TV. Be aware, 4K takes up a lot more storage on your phone and uses up more battery power.

aptX: Regular Bluetooth is fine for hands-free calls, but subpar when it comes to streaming music to your headphones or speaker. This is because it’s difficult to send large files through a small “pipe” without sacrificing sound quality. Smartphones with aptX, however, can reduce the size of audio so they can easily flow through the wireless pipeline, delivering near CD-quality audio over Bluetooth.

Always-on display: For added convenience and to help with battery preservation, a few Android smartphones today have an “Always-on display,” which shows you notifications on the screen – such as date and time, calendar appointments, text messages and emails, recent calls, and more -- without needing to wake up the phone.

IP67/IP68: The Ingress Protection (IP) rating system shows you how much protection your tech has from the elements. Phones that are IP67-certified means the device and connectors can withstand up to 3.2 feet of water for up to 30 minutes (and are dust-resistant, too). An IP68-certified device can withstand “more than” 3.2 feet of water, but it varies by device. To err on the side of caution, consider these phones ideal for splashes, rain, sweat, and accidental submersion. Don’t go swimming with your phone.

LTE: Long-term evolution, or LTE, is an industry term that refers to higher data speeds – comparable to (or even faster than) your home's broadband Internet connection. Sometimes referred to as 4G speeds, all major phone carriers offer LTE phones, tablets and Internet sticks or pucks, all of which grant you fast downloads, streaming and uploading in supported (mostly urban) areas.

Gorilla Glass: From Corning, Gorilla Glass is a tougher screen technology that can withstand the bumps and knocks of everyday life. With the latest version, Gorilla Glass 4, Corning says it could withstand 3-foot drops onto rough surfaces 80% of the time, which they claim is up to twice as good as competitive glass designs. It’s still a good idea to go with a case to protect the entire phone from accidental drops.

mAh: Short for milliamp, this refers to the capacity of your smartphone’s battery. Generally speaking, the higher the milliamp (mAh), the longer the phone will last between charges. There are other variables that can affect battery performance, such as environmental conditions (such as heat), operating system and applications (software), processing power, and more. A rule of thumb: the bigger the number, such as 2800mAh compared to 1900mAh, the longer the phone’s battery will last.

Marshmallow: Android 6.0, or “Marshmallow,” introduces a number of improvements and new features tied to the overall user experience. A few highlights: tap and hold the Home button to activate “Now on Tap,” which provides contextually-relevant info and apps based on what you’re doing on the phone; a “Doze” feature automatically puts the device into a sleep state, but still takes calls and messages; use your fingertip or thumb to unlock your phone and shop on Google Play; new keyboard refinements; and more.

NFC: Near-field communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless technology that allows for two NFC-enabled devices to make a digital handshake, by simply placing them within 1.5 inches of one another. There are many applications, such as tapping your phone to make a payment on a retailer’s contactless terminal, quickly pairing a phone with NFC headphones, or two compatible phones quickly exchanging contact information.

Push-to-talk (PTT): Some phones today support push-to-talk – which may be advertised as “PTT,” for short – which have a walkie-talkie-like button on the side that instantly connects you to a preprogrammed person or group. Popular among workers “in the field,” especially if they’re wearing protective gloves, PTT phones are almost exclusively Android-based, therefore iPhone fans can’t take advantage of this feature.

SIM: A SIM (“Subscriber Identity Module”) is a small white card inside your phone. It's what enables cellular service with your provider. It also stores your phone number, and other info. When you upgrade your phone, simply pop out the SIM, which is usually found in a small slot in the side or on top of your phone, or underneath the battery, and insert it into a new phone. They’ve become smaller over the years: from SIM to mini SIM to microSIM to nano SIM. Some phones offer dual SIM support, so you can pop in a second card, perhaps having one number for personal use and one for work, or using a local SIM when traveling.

Super AMOLED: There are two major smartphone screen technologies on the market – AMOLED and IPS LCD – and each has their own benefits. With AMOLED, individual pixels are lit separately on top of a thin film transistor array that passes electricity through organic compounds; colors and bright and blacks are deep as portions of the screen can be turned off (like an LED TV). Super AMOLED reflects less sunlight than AMOLED, while IPS is said to show more accurate colors than AMOLED/Super AMOLED — but the latter excels in contrast (blacks), and energy efficiency

Wireless charging: While the name is a little misleading as your phone isn’t charging up over airwaves (yet!), smartphones with a “wireless charging” feature can be powered up by placing it on top of a compatible base at home, in the car, at the office, in an airport, or at a restaurant. In other words, no USB cable is needed. Phone carriers often sell these small pucks to place the phone on top of to charge up, plus IKEA now sells furniture with this feature built in. A catch: you likely have to remove your case for this to work.

Now you too, can talk like a techie but have some idea of what you’re talking about.

Read Article (Marc Saltzman | | 05/21/2016)

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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To Buy iPhone Costs iPhone Workers 1 Months Pay


Workers at the Pegatron iPhone factory in China make an average of $650 to $850 a month, Bloomberg recently reported. That means some of them make just enough to purchase an iPhone 6S — if they spend an entire month’s salary on the device. The smartphone is Apple’s top-of-the-line offering. Its base price in China, before memory upgrades, is 5,288 yuan, or $807.95 based on the current conversion rate. The device retails for $649 in the United States.

Apple’s iPhone is an expensive device, and no one is entitled to one. Many Americans would struggle to justify the cost all at once — that’s one reason why Apple offers an installment plan. Android phones, which come in a number of budget-friendly varieties, are also somewhat more popular than iPhones in the United States.

To be fair and draw another comparison, Tesla Factory workers probably don’t drive Teslas.

But it’s still worth considering the inequality here. Americans aren’t the ones working to assemble iPhones. Bloomberg’s article quotes an advocacy group that alleges the Chinese factory’s base pay is so low that many workers need to work overtime to make ends meet, though Pegatron and Apple have reportedly developed systems to discourage excessive work. (It’s worth noting that Pegatron also contains safety nets in the stairways “to prevent accidents—or suicide attempts,” according to Bloomberg.) Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post about labor at the factory.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but American families made an average of $53,657 last year, or a bit more than $4,471 a month. It’s considerably more than the Chinese workers, even if you assumed a dual-income household and split that number in half.

The takeaway? Your iPhone is an incredibly complicated device, and not just in terms of its mechanical innards. It all begins with a supply chain that, for many electronics companies, includes materials secured with child labor. And assembling the device requires workers who couldn’t realistically buy the thing. And then it’s shipped to you.

How Apple Profits from A System That Abuses Children — And Why It’s So Hard to Stop.

A new report from Amnesty International suggests that companies including Apple, Samsung and Sony are profiting from child labor in Africa — and no one should be surprised.

It’s been public knowledge for years that electronics are stuffed with minerals that come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a war-torn place rich in must-have materials that are rarely found elsewhere. Less well-known, however, is how these sometimes blood-soaked metals move from the DRC into the supply chains of some of the world’s richest and most powerful tech companies. While these companies carry considerable influence and are aware of the controversy surrounding their supply chains, a number of complicating factors make it difficult — if not impossible — for them to solve the problem of child labor.

Amnesty says its report, published Monday, is the “first comprehensive account” of how cobalt ore found by children enters the global supply chain. The group focused on cobalt specifically for two reasons: One, it’s a key component of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in phones. Two, the material stands apart from other “conflict minerals” you may have heard of because it doesn’t contribute to armed groups in the country the same way other materials do, and as a result receives less scrutiny.

“If you’re a corporate executive with these minerals in your products, there is no excuse for turning a blind eye to child labor in your supply chains,” Holly Dranginis, senior policy analyst at the Enough Project, told HuffPost.

The situation isn’t simple. But perhaps greater efforts from those in positions of power could make a difference.

“We need systemic change, and real accountability,” Dranginis told Huffpost, “and that will take policy and behavior change from a range of actors: end-user companies, smelters, traders, and of course government officials in the DRC and surrounding region.”

Read Article (Damon Beres | | 05/19/2016)

The Digital Era is all pervasive; effecting Cultural, National & International laws as well as the General Public, Governments, Government Officials and even Law Enforcement.  It’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.

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Why Billionaire Dumped all His Apple Stock


Apple has had a tough week after reporting that its quarterly revenue fell for the first time since 2003. Things got worse Thursday when billionaire investor Carl Icahn announced that he had sold his shares in the company.

The news sent Apple stock, already depressed by the disappointing earnings report earlier this week, down another 3 percent. Apple's stock, one of the most widely held in the world, is now down about 10 percent this week, erasing about $56 billion from its market value.

Icahn has been one of Apple's most prominent — and vocal — investors. In 2014, he suggested that Apple was undervalued and was worth more than $1 trillion. Icahn has also repeatedly tussled with the firm about a program for buying back its stock, which could raise its value. The company eventually relented.

But, Icahn said on CNBC Thursday afternoon, he has now sold all of his shares in the company and made a $2 billion profit. "We obviously made a great deal of money," Icahn said. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple is a "great company," Icahn said. Icahn said he called Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, to alert him to the news. "He seemed sort of sad to hear that," Icahn said.

Apple reported its earnings earlier this week, revealing that its revenue dropped from the previous year for the first time in 13 years. It also reported its first ever decline in iPhone sales from year to year — Apple sold 51.2 million phones in its latest quarter, down from 61.2 million the previous year.

The report ended a remarkable run that helped the tech firm become the world's most valuable company. In Apple's latest earnings call, Cook called the current situation a "pause" in Apple's growth. Yet with a majority of its revenue wrapped up in the slowing smartphone market, any perception that the iPhone is weakening has enormous repercussions.

Apple, like every other smartphone vendor, has watched consumer appetites for smartphones shrink during the past several quarters. That slowing growth seems to have caught up with the company this quarter, particularly in the critical market of China. Apple reported that revenue was down 26 percent from the same period last year, making it the region of the world where the firm saw the greatest downturn.

That appears to be behind Icahn's decision to sell his shares in the company, which were once valued at more than $5 billion. "China could be a shadow for [the company], and we have to look at that," he told CNBC.

Note: A Beijing court’s decision against Apple Inc. resulted in losing its exclusive trademark rights over iPhone. The winner of the case is a small-time accessories company that produces wallets and purses.

Legal Daily also confirmed, Xintong currently has a Class 18 trademark that allows them to use the label on their range of leather, which includes smartphone casings, wallets and clutches, Products that weren’t launched before by Apple. The decision sided with the Beijing Company due to the 2013 ruling which states, Xintong applied for a trademark in September 2007, during the time when Apple’s iPhone was not available in China. The tech company started selling the smartphone from 2009.

Read Article (Merle & Tsukayama | | 04/28/2016)

As the smartphone loses its bling the effects slowly start to appear across the entire industry without exception. Carl Icahn had the vision to see it coming and acted accordingly. The digital era does provide indicators of current and future status but one must be able to identify and act on these indicators.

The effects caused by a lack of Digital Literacy is also an indicator and some of our prominent officials are trying to respond accordingly.

Unfortunately, many of them assume that providing Internet access alone will suffice but that alone has little effect on digital literacy. An example of a modern day service that can accomplish this is Master Level High-Tech Webinars.

Please donate to this cause today so we can help someone tomorrow.

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iPhone Or Android? Consider One Big Difference


The vast majority of smartphones around the world are Android devices, but few of them are what you’d call modern or innovative. Way back in October 2015, Google officially released Android Marshmallow, the latest version of its smartphone and tablet operating system. It’s packed with cool, useful features like Now on Tap, an interactive service that helps you do more with whatever is on your screen. But most Android folks can’t use it: Only 7.5 percent of devices have actually been able to upgrade to it, according to new statistics.

Those same statistics reveal that a significant portion — 32.5 percent — of Android devices are still on KitKat, a version of the operating system that came out in fall 2013. More than 24 percent of Android devices are on even older versions.

Things are different in Apple’s walled garden. The company reported last month that 84 percent of iPhones and iPads have updated to iOS 9, which came out in September 2015. Only 11 percent are on the previous version, iOS 8, and a meager 5 percent of devices run an earlier version.

The takeaway is clear: Apple can get people to upgrade their phones, but Google can’t. Why that is — and what this difference ultimately means — and knowing this can help you understand a lot about the two companies and inform you about smartphone purchases moving forward.

Google’s Android phones are created by a variety of companies. You can get a sleek new Samsung device with a high-end camera, or you can try the budget-friendly (and less sexy) Moto G. There are options from LG, Sony, HTC and a slew of other companies, meaning you can find a phone that matches your price range and your personality.

The iPhone is created by Apple. Period. Full stop.

When Google releases a new version of its software, it has to distribute it to manufacturers that are ultimately responsible for pushing it to your device. When it comes to a significant overhaul like Marshmallow, a phone maker like Samsung might decide to reserve it for its premium models — the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, for example — while neglecting older models like the Galaxy S4.

If you bought a phone in 2013, when KitKat was cutting edge, it’s possible that your manufacturer never gave you the opportunity to update your software. That doesn’t mean your hardware is inadequate, though: A lot of people are happy with technically “old” devices.

In recent years, Google has offered its own Nexus line of phones that can receive faster updates directly from the tech giant. But these devices may have to be purchased outside of your wireless carrier’s stores and don’t necessarily compete with devices offered by other manufacturers in terms of screen quality, camera and so on. They’re far from a standard option, in other words.

Because Apple is the only manufacturer of the iPhone, it can roll out updates across devices simultaneously. The drawback is that those iOS upgrades can slow your phone and make you more inclined to purchase a new device. Of course, the upside is that any security problems can be patched immediately — not so with Android.

So, next time you’re shopping for a phone, remember that an Android device purchased today is less likely to receive a software upgrade than an iPhone is, but you’ll also be able to choose from a variety of manufacturers and price points.

Is this worth the tradeoff? That’s up to you.

Read Article (Damon Beres | | 05/04/2016)

The author is absolutely right. It’s up to you. Personally, as long as my 2014 Samsung is working correctly, I don’t need Marshmallow. And for the price difference I’m quite capable of downloading my own update.

But I also understand that everyone is not techie and may prefer the update happening automatically which enters into the subject of digital literacy. Device ownership doesn’t always translate into Intuitively knowing how to fully use it to ones’ best advantage.

Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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Tesla & Apple Team to Compensate for Weaknesses


Apple’s dismal earnings announcement shows why it badly needs to rethink its innovation model and leadership. Its last breakthrough innovation was the iPhone — which was released in 2007.

Since then, Apple has simply been tweaking its componentry, adding faster processors and more advanced sensors, and playing with its size — making it bigger in the iPad and smaller in the Apple Watch. Chief executive Tim Cook is probably one of the most competent operations executives in the industry but is clearly not a technology visionary. Apple needs another Steve Jobs to reinvent itself otherwise it will join the ranks of HP and Compaq.

That Steve Jobs may be Elon Musk—who has proven to be the greatest visionary of our times.

In the same period that Apple released the iPhone and successors, Musk developed two generations of world-changing electric vehicles; perfected a new generation of battery technologies; and released first-generation autonomous driving capabilities. And that was in Tesla Motors.

In his other company, SpaceX, Musk developed a spacecraft; docked it with the International Space Station and returned with cargo. He’s launched two rockets to space that have made vertical landings back on Earth — one on a helicopter-like pad and another on a ship in the ocean.

[SpaceX says it will fly to Mars as soon as 2018]

Musk is also developing the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. In discussions that I had with him in 2012, Musk told me that his ambition was to build a space station and retire on Mars. He wasn’t joking, I expect he will do this.

Apple has reportedly been developing an electric vehicle because it sees a car as an iPhone on wheels. It is conceivable that it will demonstrate something like this in the next five to 10 years. But Tesla already has this technology — and it is amazing. I have likened my Tesla Model S to a spaceship that travels on land. I consider it to be better than any Apple product — because it is more complex, elegant, and better designed than anything that Apple offers.

Would Musk be interested in being part of Apple when Tesla is on top of the world? Tesla just received nearly $20 billion in orders for its Model 3 — a record for any product in history. Musk reportedly turned down an acquisition offer from Google in 2013 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Why would he consider such an offer now, from Apple?

My guess is that he would do this — if he were offered the chief executive role. A combination of an operations executive such as Cook and a visionary such as Musk would be formidable. Apple’s vast resources would allow Tesla to scale up his operations to deliver the nearly 400,000 orders it has received for the Model 3. Tesla would be able to leverage Apple’s global distribution network and incorporate many new technologies. Musk would be able to pursue his dream projects while Cook worried about delivery and detail.

And Cook would get the visionary that Apple badly needs, someone who is even a cut above Steve Jobs. The markets would rejoice and take Apple stock to a level higher than anything it has seen before.  Consider that Tesla’s market cap of $33 billion is eminently affordable by Apple, which has reserves of more than $200 billion. And Apple lost $47 billion in valuation with its earnings announcement Tuesday, which is more than it would likely cost to acquire Tesla.

This could be a marriage made in heaven. We would get world changing innovations as well as our space colonies.

Read Article (Vivek Wadhwa | | 04/28/2016)

If Apple is envisioning an electric car as an iPhone, they need Musk, badly. But I agree with the author, Apple innovation has been stagnant. But this lack of innovation is a problem across the entire mobile industry, not just Apple.

So, you could actually say that the entire mobile industry needs this union to happen.

All the more reason to become familiar with latest technology or upgrade your skill-set.  It’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.

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