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Don’t have time to keep up with the latest innovations, bugs and tips?  Look here for the recent developments you might have missed.  This is only intended to be a “heads up” about tech updates; if anything looks important to you, more in-depth exploration might be in order:

12/3/16:  Batteries, AGAIN.  Now Apple’s batteries seem to be catching fire on their iPhone 6 phones.  Not here, though.  The Shanghai Consumer Council, a watchdog group in China, reported last week that 8 iPhone 6 devices had spontaneously combusted.  So far, Apple’s response is that “external damage” was to blame for all of those “thermal events”.  Still, should they catch fire at all??

11/18/16:  Google Glass may be shelved, but Snapchat has started to unveil Spectacles, click HERE for more.

11/1/16:  Motorola announces the Moto X, with attachments that fit the phone’s body for things like a speaker, projector or zoom camera among other things.  This reminds me of the Google Project Ara smart phone, to be custom assembled using rectangular modules which snap into a metal exoskeleton so that users can build their own phone for a specialized purpose like medical or gaming.  The prototype is the Spiral 2, with 8 interchangeable modules.  But that’s for the phone itself, Moto is for the attachments to the main phone body.

10/27/16:  Apple announced a new TV app that can search across all Apple devices, including iTunes; also a new MacBook Pro with improved Retina display and a customizable touch bar which replaces the function keys with a context sensitive touch strip; The 13” and 15” are lighter and drive higher resolution monitors.  Still expensive:  13” model starts at $1800, 15” at $2400.  But Microsoft’s Surface Studio ($2,999), the 28” AIO desktop with 3D, stunning display, lots of horsepower and a haptic dial for incredible touch control steals the day - aimed at artists and designers.

10/10/16: In what I perceive as another attempt to push more users to Win10, Microsoft announced that it will no longer issue Tuesday patches for Win7 and Win8.1 as usual.  Instead, it will issue two separate types of patches:  First, patches dedicated to security only, downloadable from the Microsoft Update Catalog.  Second, a full collection of patches.  The security patches aren’t cumulative, but the full bundle is.  This won’t affect most home users, who will opt to continue to obtain their patches (now called a “Monthly Rollup”) as usual.  For business users, there are a few considerations that must  be addresses by your IT department, depending on how your computers are set up.

10/5/16:  Facebook introduces its own version of Craigslist, hopefully more secure.  Facebook wants to get into the local buying-and-selling game with its new mobile classifieds section, “Facebook Marketplace” (not to be confused with the old Facebook Marketplace of the same name!) which lets users put up Craigslist-like ads for everything from furniture and clothing to cars and housing. You can sell to anyone within 100 miles of you), rather than limiting you to friends or group members.  While Marketplace is similar to Craigslist, because it is a venue, not a facilitator, and the details of any sales (including price, shipping and other logistics) are between the buyer and the seller, it’s different in that Facebook doesn't take a cut of the profits, nor does it offer protection for either party -- like Ebay does -- but it hopefully it is slightly more credible than Craigslist because it's linked to your Facebook account..

10/4/16:  Google announces several new products designed, of course, to be used with its others.  First, the Pixel smart phone, which replaces Google’s Nexus line, available in two sizes, quite powerful, at a base price of $649.  It’s intended as Google’s “Superphone,” an iPhone competitor, with excellent cameras, an attractive case, long lasting and quick charging battery and VR readiness.    Reviews are quite positive. Google Home, Google’s competition for Amazon’s Echo, with improved natural language processing and compatibility with other Google software, at $130.  A faster Chromecast Ultra, with faster loading and 4K compatibility for media streaming ($70).  Google Assistant, a multi-platform digital assistant and voice control system which works with a lot of Google appliances.  Google Wi-Fi, a home router which boasts the ability to act as a mesh network, with multiple units in a single large home, so that buffering can be eliminated among simultaneous multi-users ($299).  Daydream VR, a holder for the Pixel phone that uses an included motion-sensitive controller to interact with a 360 degree VR experience ($79).

9/20/16:  Canon introduces a new line of printers, the “ecotankline, which features a “revolutionary” ink replacement technology (you empty a series of colored ink bottles into refillable reservoirs on the side of the printer) that offers super-high capacity, refillable ink tanks and ultra low cost (liquid) replacement inks. This available with a line of all-in-one “everyday” printers that claim to  come with enough ink in the box to print for up to 2 years [4,000-10,500 pages black to 6,500-11,000  color, about 55-60 standard cartridges, depending on the model]! See their video HERE to see how this works. This seems to me a little like an update to the old printers where we had to refill the tank with dry toner rather than cartridges, but applied to inkjet printers vice laser printers.  Still, it’s the first good idea we’ve had in quite some time.  See my opinion from over 6 years ago.  Initial reviews say that the printer is about the same as Epson’s baseline inkjet, but at triple the price. So, while the print quality is pretty good, and the ink saves money, it’ll take some time to make up for paying about triple the cost of their standard injet.  It also lacks some of the features you might desire, such as a document feeder, duplexer or fax, so you’re out of luck if you need these features.  Maybe in the higher-end model, but certainly not at the $300 baseline model.

9/16/16:  Apple’s iPhone 7 & 7 Plus will be available for sale.  New features include trading the headphone jack for (included) Lightning EarPods, expressive messaging (animated backgrounds for e-mail messages), water resistance and improved cameras (wider f/1.8 aperature to capture more light, 6-element lens, 12 megapixel sensors, quad-LED True Tone flash, compensation for flickering lights, low light capabilities, wide color capture and optical image stabilization.  The Plus will have two cameras, one with a wide-angle lens, the other with a 56mm telephoto lens, both with zoom.  Camera enthusiasts will be pleased, others maybe not so much a reason to upgrade from the 6. And it’s waterproof.  The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both received an IP67 rating, which means the phones can survive being dropped in water up to 1 meter in depth for 30 minutes. It also means they are completely dust resistant to survive Burning Man and other dry, dusty environments  as well. How do they do this?  Actually, the old tech way, with o-ring washers and glue tape.   But, despite the IP67 rating for both new models, Apple makes clear that "liquid damage is not covered under warranty" and lists a number of forbidden pursuits for you and your new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.  So, you may take your phone for a bike ride in the rain, as they show in their commercial, but don’t expect it to be replaced if it’s damaged by water!  This is the same for all manufacturers, including Samsung.  And don’t try to fool them - they even place small stickers inside the phone that bleed when exposed to water, so they’ll know exactly how the damage occurs.  So this doesn’t mean that you should shower, swim, surf or water ski with it.  Or that it’s toilet-proof.  And that, if it does get wet, you should use the standard de-watering procedures you would have used for a non-waterproof phone (see TIPS), don’t just shake it off and then turn it back on. And Apple recommends waiting at least 5 hours before attempting to plug it in electrically and recharge it.

9/13/16:  Apple’s iOS 10 Sierra is released.  See the Mac page for more. And this tech review of the top 25 features.

9/1/16:  Batteries, again.  Now it’s batteries catching fire on the new Samsung Note 7.  You’ve probably heard about this one the nightly news.  Once again, it’s not the phone or its design, it’s the battery manufacturer for only some of the phones.  All you can do is check with your provider, as the non-removable battery’s manufacturer isn’t readily apparent.  But it’s getting worse, cars seriously catching fire and the FAA limiting the Note’s use on airplanes.  Samsung issued a software patch to fix this, by limiting recharging, we’ll see how that works.  UPDATE:  As of 10/8/16, Samsung has recalled 2.5 million phones, is offering trade-ins for other models.  Seems their replacement phones are catching fire, too.  FURTHER UPDATE:  After the CPSC issued an official recall notice, Samsung put a halt to further manufacture and sale of the Note 7, and offered an extra $100 to encourage people to trade in their phones. It’s expected that this fiasco will cost Samsung about $3billion this quarter.  By the second week in December, 2016, Samsung announced that it bricked the remaining Note 7s, they’re history.

8/28/16:  The latest version of the Android operating system, Nougat, has arrived.  It’s got some interesting features but nothing that exciting (to me, anyway):  Multiple apps on one screen, data saver for adjusting power consumption, keyboard themes and even embedded Easter Egg games...

8/28/16:  Hold off on purchasing that PlayStation or XBox, as both Sony and Microsoft have announced that they plan to introduce new versions of both either in September or October, 2016, well in advance of the Christmas season.

8/2/16:  If you’re one of the users of Yahoo, you’ll be pleased to learn that Verizon has agreed to purchase Yahoo for $4.6 billion.  The purchase, when combined with Verizon’s capability to gather user information from its wireless devices, broadband networks and set-top boxes gives it control over almost every key screen that Americans use every day, not only on the web but also at all their physical locations, concerning some privacy groups.

8/2/16:  Release date for Windows 10 Anniversary Update (V 1607).  Click HERE for more.  UPDATE:  Those who have heavily reviewed the release agree that, as expected, that there are serious issues with connecting to Microsoft servers, driver incompatibilities, insufficient storage errors, group policy erasures, damaged installation files, and a wide variety of failures, lockups, rollbacks, issues with Universal Windows programs and the error code x80070020.  If possible, you should dodge the update until Microsoft has patched these issues. FURTHER UPDATE: If you use Skype and your webcam freezes after about a minute, it’s because the of the update, because Windows no longer allows USB webcams to use MJPEG of H264 encoded streams and is only allowing YUY2 encoding.  It may be fixed as early as September.  UPDATE: On August 18, Microsoft introduced a Self-Healing tool, but it’s likely not perfect or permanent.

7/23/16:  Edward Snowden, teaming up with MIT, has announced an attachment to iPhones for journalists and activists which detects when their cell phones are secretly sending  signals that coud be tracked by intelligence agencies, even when the phones are turned off.  Snowden is becoming a “brand”.

7/20/16:  If you own a Surface Pro 3, you may be experiencing battery issues, particularly right after the one-year warranty expires.  The battery barely holds a charge or simply dies, way less than the normal wear and tear you’d expect from your device.  You’re not alone.  Only the batteries manufactured by Simplo and LGC are causing this problem (check: run “powercfg/batteryreport” from a command prompt).  Even worse, the cost to repair this issue can be upwards of $500!!  Microsoft ways it’s looking into this issue, but who knows how long that’ll take, it may be easier to replace the device.  As of 10/10/16 Microsoft is still silent and many users have to leave their machines plugged in, as they don’t work with the batteries.  [This reminds me of the issue with the dying HP Pavilion DV6000 motherboards also after 18 months a few years back, nothing was resolved then, either.  It’s all about the money...]


Interested in Mac news?  Click HERE to go to the MAC NEWS page!

MURPHY’S LAWS OF COMPUTING #9:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite malfunction.


WANNA KNOW WHAT I REALLY THINK?:  The above NEWS reports the facts.  You might want to check out my personal thoughts on these subjects on the OPINION page of this site.

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