5 Things - Week Ending 01/24/14

This is the 56th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

But Target’s latest misfortune should surprise to no one — least of all Target. The security measures that Target and other companies implement to protect consumer data have long been known to be inadequate. Instead of overhauling a poor system that never worked, however, the card industry and retailers have colluded in perpetuating a myth that they’re doing something to protect customer data — all to stave off regulation and expensive fixes.

The whole Target situation is a mess. It doesn't surprise me that this happened though. It is very lucrative for hackers to try and get credit card and debit card information and then either use it or sell it on the black market.

When I teach my community ed class titled "Staying Safe In A Digital World", I recommend that you never use your debit card online. I think I am going to add that you should never use your debit card in the real world. The fact that your debit card is linked directly to your checking accoutn where your money is sitting doesn't feel very safe with people hacking away at websites and physical retail stores.

I would just assume that American Express takes all the risk if my card number gets stolen.


After hack, Target offers year of free credit monitoring

Dara Kerr:

Tens of thousands of people likely received a conciliatory e-mail from Target on Wednesday (1/15/14). In an effort to temper the repercussions of its massive data breach, the big-box retailer offered to give affected customers one year of free credit monitoring from Experian — valued at $191.

To sign up for the free year of credit monitoring you will need to visit https://creditmonitoring.target.com and sign up before April 23rd.


When ATMs were introduced more than 40 years ago, they were considered advanced technology. Today, not so much. There are 420,000 ATMs in the U.S., and on April 8, a deadline looms for nearly all of them that underscores how sluggishly the nation’s cash delivery system moves forward. That’s the day Microsoft (MSFT) cuts off tech support for Windows XP, meaning that ATMs running the software will no longer receive regular security patches and won’t be in compliance with industry standards.

Sounds like the ATM industry better get to work or they may find themselves the next target of the hacker community...


T-Mobile wireless price war feared

Brad Reed:

Here’s how you know that T-Mobile is onto something: It’s making Wall Street very nervous for all the right reasons. Reuters recently talked with several financial analysts who all expressed fear that T-Mobile was sparking a pricing war in the wireless industry and that carriers were starting to actually compete with one another for our business.

I switched to T-Mobile this fall when I bought my iPhone 5S and I couldn't be happier with them. I had a good experience at the T-Mobile store in Apple Valley. I like the fact that they don't have two year contracts. They offer interest free financing if you don't want to shell out big bucks upfront for the iPhone or other smarthphones. Unlimited minutes, text, and data is also a big plus and the LTE network is extremely fast in the Twin Cities. I am also able to use my iPhone in over 100 countries without having to pay crazy international roaming fees!

I plan on sticking with T-Mobile for the forseeable future and would definitely recommend it to a friend!


How Phishing and Email Scams Work - and How You Can Avoid Them

Trent Hamm:

First of all, you should never fully trust that an email is actually from whoever it says in the From: field. It is rather easy to fake such information and it’s because of the implicit trust that people have of the email recipient that many scammers are able to get away with it.

Trent runs one of my favorite websites, The Simple Dollar. He mostly writes about personal finance but also answers questions that his readers send him. The question about how to avoid identity theft online was asked and his simple answer was to not click on links in emails. In this article he elaborates further since people had more questions. I would encourage everyone to click the link titled How Phishing and Email Scams Work - and How You Can Avoid Them because I want everyone to understand how these scams work and I don't want any of my clients or community ed students to call me because they got bamboozled.


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5 Things - Week Ending 1/5/14

This is the 55th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

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The Google car has now driven more than half a million miles without causing an accident—about twice as far as the average American driver goes before crashing. Of course, the computer has always had a human driver to take over in tight spots. Left to its own devices, Thrun says, it could go only about fifty thousand miles on freeways without a major mistake. Google calls this the dog-food stage: not quite fit for human consumption. “The risk is too high,” Thrun says. “You would never accept it.” The car has trouble in the rain, for instance, when its lasers bounce off shiny surfaces. (The first drops call forth a small icon of a cloud onscreen and a voice warning that auto-drive will soon disengage.) It can’t tell wet concrete from dry or fresh asphalt from firm. It can’t hear a traffic cop’s whistle or follow hand signals.

And yet, for each of its failings, the car has a corresponding strength. It never gets drowsy or distracted, never wonders who has the right-of-way. It knows every turn, tree, and streetlight ahead in precise, three-dimensional detail. Dolgov was riding through a wooded area one night when the car suddenly slowed to a crawl. “I was thinking, What the hell? It must be a bug,” he told me. “Then we noticed the deer walking along the shoulder.” The car, unlike its riders, could see in the dark. Within a year, Thrun added, it should be safe for a hundred thousand miles.

This New Yorker article about Google's driverless car is the best tech piece I have read in 2013. It is a long read, but well worth the time.

People are really bad at driving and from the sounds of it, you are much less likely to get in an accident with the computer driving the car than you are driving yourself. This sounds freaky, but planes and ships "drive" themselves most of the way and flying is significantly safer than driving.

Google has been very diligent in trying to make the driverless car a reality and I anticipate that we will see one of these for sale in the next decade.


4 Reasons Why Apple's iBeacon Is About to Disrupt Interaction Design

Kyle Vanhemert:

You step inside Walmart and your shopping list is transformed into a personalized map, showing you the deals that’ll appeal to you most. You pause in front of a concert poster on the street, pull out your phone, and you’re greeted with an option to buy tickets with a single tap. You go to your local watering hole, have a round of drinks, and just leave, having paid—and tipped!—with Uber-like ease. Welcome to the world of iBeacon.

Apple has been quietly building the groundwork for iBeacons the past couple years. They have been including the newest version of Bluetooth in the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad mini, and the iPad Air.

iBeacons was introduced with iOS 7 this past fall. This is an extremely exciting technology that few people are even aware of.

Here are a few of the possibilities with iBeacons:

  • You could walk up to a painting, pull out your iPhone, and find additional information on the artwork right there waiting for you.
  • Your car adjusting the seat and mirrors depending on whether you, your spouse, or your kid plunks down in the drivers seat.
  • Paying for your purchase without pulling out your wallet
  • Receiving a coupon for a hotdog at the baseball stadium as you walk in front of the concession stand

Oxford word of the year for 2013: Selfie

Ben Brumfield:

Oxford Dictionaries’ word for the year for 2013 is selfie.

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website

Just in case you didn't know what a selfie was. The "kids" take them all the time and send them to their friends via text and post them to Twitter and Facebook.


Amazon Prime Air

If Amazon can figure out how to deliver stuff to people's homes in 30 minutes via drones they will signficantly impact the businesses of retailers and shipping companies.

I am not sure if the goverment will allow thousands of Amazon drones to fly through the skies but I love the concept.


Coin

This looks like a really neat product. You essentially have one card to carry around with you that contains all of your credit and debit cards. You can pre-order one for $50 and it will ship in the summer of 2014. If you want to learn more check out Coin's website.


If you appreciate the free content on NiceGuyTechnology.com please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 11/29/13

This is the 54th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.


FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

This is great news! I never understood why I couldn't read article on my Kindle or play games on my iPad during takeoff or landing. It looks like the Federal Aviation Administration has relaxed the rules.


Amazon Raises Threshold for Free Shipping

David Streitfeld:

Amazon.com tightened the requirements for one of its most popular shipping methods Tuesday morning.

The change is to Super Saver Shipping, which for a over a decade mailed items free as long as the order met a $25 threshold.

The new threshold: $35. Amazon gave no reason for the change.

I think this move by Amazon is designed to encourage people to sign up for Amazon Prime (membership that cost $79 per year and offers unlimited free 2-day shipping on most items).

This makes good business sense because people will either purchase more items to make sure they get free shipping or pay for Amazon Prime. Most people don't like the idea of paying for shipping and would rather buy an extra $10 item to avoid a $4 shipping fee.


Kindle First Lets you Read E-Books a Month before Official Release

Nick Summers:

Editors at Amazon Publishing will choose four upcoming titles and highlight them for the Kindle First scheme. Readers can then pick one of these e-books to read each month on their Kindle or Kindle reading app for $1.99.

As an added incentive for its premium Amazon Prime membership, it’s also offering the scheme as a free bonus for new and existing subscribers.

I think this is a really neat program that Amazon just launched. If you are intrigued by one of the four books that Amazon editors pick out for early e-book release, you pay $1.99 (where in the real world could you purchase a brand new book for $1.99?). If you are an Amazon Prime member you get to pick one of the four books for free.

This month's selection is between the following four books:

  • Soy Sauce for Beginners
  • The Widow File
  • Timebound
  • Sweet Nothings (A Sugar Springs Novel)

I am debating if I want to get The Widow File or Timebound.

To learn more about Kindle First and to sign up for the monthly email to be notified of which books you can choose from, click on the link earlier in this paragraph.


I challenged hackers to investigate me and what they found out is chilling

Adam L. Penenberg:

With so much of my life reduced to microscopic bits and bytes bouncing around in a netherworld of digital data, how much could Nick Percoco and a determined team of hackers find out about me? Worse, how much damage could they potentially cause?

What I learned is that virtually all of us are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping and are easy hack targets. Most of us have adopted the credo “security by obscurity,” but all it takes is a person or persons with enough patience and know-how to pierce anyone’s privacy — and, if they choose, to wreak havoc on your finances and destroy your reputation.

Fascinating article that shows how vulnerable most of us are when it comes to online security.


Speed and Power Packed Into a Thin iPad Air - Walt Mossberg - Personal Technology

Walt Mossberg:

Bottom line: If you can afford it, the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down.

Agreed. I bought the iPad Air the day it came out and it is lighter, thinner, and much faster than the iPad 4 that came before it. If you like the iPad, you will love the iPad Air!


If you appreciate the free content on NiceGuyTechnology.com please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 10/18/13

This is the 53rd post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

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The $129 Nest Protect, launching this fall, is a handsome white square with rounded corners and an op-arty sunflower pattern. When smoke or carbon monoxide reaches a government-specified level of peril, the device performs like every other alarm. But what sets Nest Protect apart is its vocal warning before things get that bad. This feature has the potential to save lives: Millions of people intentionally disable smoke alarms because they’re fed up when the alert blares at the slightest hint of charred bacon. Nest’s verbal alert gives owners a chance to head off a heart-palpitating klaxon call when none is warranted, making it less likely they’ll rip out the batteries in disgust. And the Nest Protect will never wake you at 3 a.m. to inform you that the battery is low—instead, when the lights go down at bedtime, its gentle ring of light provides a status report. A green glow means all is fine; a yellow circle tells you that it’s time to replace the battery.

Nest is a company started by Tony Fadell (inventor of the iPod). Their mission is to take the unloved products in your home and make them into simple, beautiful, and thoughtful things.

In 2011, Nest introduced the Nest Thermostat. This fall they are introducting their second product, the Nest Protect. The Protect is a smoke detector that can sense smoke and carbon monoxide. The Protect connects to the Wi-Fi in your house and can communicate with your phone or tablet.

The Protect also offers some really great features:

  • No more frantically swinging towels at the smoke alarm to quiet it down. If there’s a nuisance alarm, just stand under Nest Protect and wave your arm to hush the alert.
  • In addition to an alarm sound, Nest Protect speaks to you with a human voice. It tells you what the problem is and where it is.
  • If there’s an issue, like the batteries need replacing, the light ring will glow yellow. Just wave at Nest Protect and it will tell you what’s wrong.

I have mentioned numerous times in past blog posts that we will continue to see technology invade more and more areas of the home and Nest is one of the companies that will make that a reality.

I am going to attempt to convince our landlords to replace our smoke detectors with the Nest Protect because we deal with false alarms on a frequent basis!


F.lux Helps Computer Addicts Sleep Better

Jon Russell:

In short, if you spend evenings (and early hours) sitting in front of a computer screen for any reason, F.lux will help you sleep better, by calibrating your screen’s brightness to the rise and fall of the sun in your location.

I highly recommend F.lux for anyone that uses a computer late in the day. I have been using it for a couple years now and I love it!

I wrote a blog post called The Tech I Use - f.lux that goes into a bit more detail about f.lux.


Think You Can Live Offline Without Being Tracked? Here's What It Takes

Sarah Kessler:

But even as more people become aware they are being tracked throughout their daily lives, few understand to what extent. In a recent Pew Internet study, 37% of respondents said they thought it was possible to be completely anonymous online. From experts like Sell, you’ll get a different range of answers about whether it’s possible to live without any data trail: “100% no,” she says.

This article highlights the various ways that we are being tracked online and in the real world. I found it fascinating to what lengths some people go to avoid being tracked. In my opinion, it is pretty much impossible to live under the radar in today's world.


HTG Explains: Why Does Rebooting a Computer Fix So Many Problems?

Chris Hoffman:

Ask a geek how to fix a problem you’ve having with your Windows computer and they’ll likely ask “Have you tried rebooting it?” This seems like a flippant response, but rebooting a computer can actually solve many problems.

This article explains why rebooting your device is the first thing us geeks recommend you do when you are having a problem with your technology.

It won't solve every problem, but it will solve many of them!


A long way home with help from Google Earth

Peter Birch:

In 1986, a five-year-old boy named Saroo Munshi Khan accidentally fell asleep on a stationary train in India. He woke up hours later, alone and in an unfamiliar place. This fateful train ride ripped Saroo away from his home and family. For more than a quarter century, he searched for them before finding his way back home with the help of Google Earth.

This is an amazing story of a man that found his family 25 years after being separated from them as a child. Without the use of Google Earth, I don't think it would have been possible for hime to be reunited with his family.


If you appreciate the free content on NiceGuyTechnology.com please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 8/30/13

This is the 52nd post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

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My personal concern is the limitless reach that the Internet offers my kids. It’s just so easy to post a picture on Facebook, to send an insulting text message, or to find and download any movie ever made. Without boundaries, kids just keep exploring. So I sat my daughters down and let them know about my limits. For us, so far, the rule boils down to: “If you wouldn’t say it, do it, or watch it with me in the room, it’s not okay.” I check their phones regularly, in front of them and behind their backs, to enforce this rule. If I see something that I deem inappropriate—for example, my daughter often makes Facebook comments that I think are too mean—I make her delete them and apologize to the person in question if necessary, and we talk about the issue.

I love this rule. If you wouldn't say it, do it, or warch it with me in the room, it's not okay. I think I will adopt this rule with my future kids when it comes to technology.

Make sure your kids understand that posting information on the Internet is akin to taking out an ad in The New York Times, playing it during halftime at the Super Bowl, and reading it over the loudspeaker during morning announcements at their school. It’s highly visible, in other words—and it can never, ever be truly erased.

This is so important for everyone to understand. If you post something to the internet, it is out "there" and may remain out "there" forever. A college kid would hate to be denied a job due to a photo they posted to Facebook years ago.

This is a great article that everyone with teens in their household should read. I would encourage you to share this with your family and friends!


The 6 Commandments Of Buying Gadgets

So simple, yet so often overlooked: It’s smart shopping to splurge on the items you spend a lot of time with, and skimp on the ones you don’t.

This is good advice. If you are going to use your laptop for hours everyday, it makes sense to spend a little bit more and get one that will make you happy. I made the decision to buy a new MacBook Air even though I had a perfect MacBook Pro at my disposal because I carry it everywhere with me and dropping a couple pounds from my backpack makes me very happy! Well worth the cost. On the flip side, it makes sense for me to skimp when it comes to a printer because I rarely every print anything at home and when I do need to print something it is ususally in large quanities and I just send it to FedEx Kinkos.

Check out the article to learn what the other five commandments are!

If you are thinking about making a technology purchase, I encourage you to contact me before you do. I can advise you on what to purchase and help you think through the decision so you don't get talked into buying more than you want or need by an electronic store sales person.


Text a driver in New Jersey, and you could see your day in court

Ben Brumfield and Chris Boyette:

We’ve all heard the dictum: Don’t text and drive. Now a New Jersey state appeals court has an addendum: Don’t knowingly text a driver — or you could be held liable if he causes a crash.

A New Jersey court recently ruled that a person could be liable if they knowingly text someone who is driving and that person causes a crash.

I recently wrote a blog post discussing Texting & Driving and I encourage you to check it out if you haven't read it.

I would also encourage you to not knowingly text someone that is driving because you will be providing them a temptation to check their phone when they hear it buzz and if you are asking them a question, they may be tempted to respond.


Senior Tech Lesson #2: Mastering "Twitter" & Social Media

Conan O'Brien:

I thought that this was a humorous take on Twitter.

I know many people that are my age that won't answer the phone, but will respond quickly to a text, tweet, or other form of electronic communication. This was demonstrated in the video when the man tweeted that he smelled smoke, but couldn't determine what was burning.


In The Last Week I've Spent $127 Playing Candy Crush Saga

Megan Rose Dickey:

In the last week, I’ve spent $127.41 on special candies, extra lives, and a bunch of other things while playing Candy Crush Saga (see proof below).

I have not myself played Candy Crush Saga. I have avoided it to due to knowing that I have an addictive personality. I have talked to many of my clients and it is interesting how many of them play Candy Crush and they all say they play the game way too much. I am not sure how many of them are spending money on the game to get extra moves or powerups or whatever it is that they sell...

Are you a Candy Crush addict? If so, I would love to hear about it!


If you appreciate the free content on NiceGuyTechnology.com please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 8/23/13

This is the 51st post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

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I have a secret to tell you: There is a mobile app you’ve probably never heard of that gets 2.5 billion page views a month, substantially more than all of CNN. It’s called Whisper, and the youths just love it.

Here’s how it works. Anyone can post an anonymous message to the service in the form of an image macro: text overlaid on a picture. When you open the app, you see six such images. Each one has a “secret” on it. You can respond to a message publicly or privately, choosing a public anonymous post or a private pseudonymous chat. Users don’t have a public identity in the app. While they do have persistent handles, there’s no way to contact them except *through* the messages they post. The app is PostSecret, optimized like FarmVille.

I thought parents and grandparents of teens might want to know about one of the apps that the "kids" are using these days. The apps motto is What's your secret? Share it on Whisper.

It is interesting how this generation of kids feel so compelled to share every aspect of their life with others via social networks. I imagine when my mom had a secret she would write it in her diary and call it good.

I downloaded the app and browsed through some of the "secrets" that were near me. I even messaged someone that shared that they hated their sister sometimes.

I have included a few of them to give you an idea of what people in the Twin Cities are sharing with the world.

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Remember the get-to-know-me chat of a first date or that final (good or bad) conversation with someone you knew for years? Chances are, as time has passed, your memory of those moments has changed. Did you nervously twitch and inarticulately explain your love when you asked your spouse to marry you? Or, as you recall it, did you gracefully ask for her hand, as charming as Cary Grant?

Thanks to our near-endless access to digital recording devices, the less-than-Hollywood version of you will be immortalized on the home computer, or stored for generations in some digital computing cloud.

There will come a time in the near future where anyone that can afford an iPhone will be able to purchase a device similar to Google Glass. This type of device will make recording daily conversations and moments even easier.

Imagine that you are at the Mall of America. You are having a conversation with your sibling about some health issues that your spouse is dealing with when you trip and go sprawling. Bags go flying everywhere including the contents of your Victoria Secret purchase. Some guy happened to be recording with his Google Glass and moments later he uploads the video to YouTube. The video catches on and before you know it, one million people have watched your embarassing moment.

Now that example might be extreme, but I don't think it is unrealistic. Someone could do the same thing today with their smartphone. It will just be much easier when a large percentage of the population as a video camera and microphone attached to their face all day long.


Key Nike FuelBand developer and fitness expert Jay Blahnik confirms new job at Apple, likely working on iWatch

Mark Gurman:

With Apple developing a wrist-watch device that focuses on health, sensors, and fitness purposes, the hire of Blahnik is absolutely critical and beneficial for Apple. Blahnik’s career has been about changing the behavior of people, and his experience could help Apple CEO Tim Cook write the book about how a wearable device could change a person’s behavior. It seems likely that someone with a fitness career as bright as Blahnik’s would only leave everything behind to work on something as potentially profound as an Apple wearable device.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. I think it is highly likely that Apple is working hard on the "iWatch". I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I thought that the "iWatch" was going to have a heavy focus on health. This recent hire lines up with my prediction of a health focused device.

I don't anticipate us seeing the "iWatch" until at least 2014 though.


Review: The Bose SoundLink Mini is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker…ever

Seth Weintraub:

The sound. The Sound…and the Sound.
This is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth player I’ve ever heard. Full Stop. It is like magic what comes out of this thing. Take it to the beach or a public park and watch people freak out at how much deep, rich sound comes out of such a small object.

The Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker has received tremendous reviews. If you would like to play music wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone I would strongly recommend that you check out this little speaker!

So there are the reasons I’ve seen the minis keep their value so well. And in an technology world of “treasure today, trash tomorrow” it’s nice to know you can buy a machine that lasts a long time and is useful enough for others to keep a good value on resale.

This article attempts to explain why Mac minis hold their value quite nicely. I was helping my parents purchase a Mac mini in the past year and we considered buying an used Mac mini, but found the savings was significant enough so we ended up buying a new one.

I think the Mac mini is a great little desktop computer and it is nice to know that you could sell it a few years down the road and get back a large percentage of your purchase price.

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If you appreciate the free content on NiceGuyTechnology.com please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 8/9/13

This is the 50th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

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Starting on August 16, Apple will offer users of third-party iPhone, iPad, and iPod power adapters the chance to trade their old chargers in and pick up a genuine model at a discount. The USB Power Adapter Takeback Program will allow you to bring your third-party adapter in to an Apple Store or Apple authorized service provider and get an Apple-branded adapter for $10 (“or the approximate equivalent in local currency”), just over half of the standard price of $19.

At the end of July, I shared a story about a Chinese woman who was electrocuted by a knockoff iPhone charger. Since that story broke, Apple has decided to offer anyone with a third-party iPhone, iPad, or iPod charger the opportunity to turn it into an Apple Store and purchase an Apple-branded charger for $10.

If you purchased a third-party knockoff charger, I would advise you take Apple up on this deal!


pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!

Michele Catalano:

45 minutes later, they shook my husband’s hand and left. That’s when he called me and relayed the story. That’s when I felt a sense of creeping dread take over. What else had I looked up? What kind of searches did I do that alone seemed innocent enough but put together could make someone suspicious? Were they judging me because my house was a mess (Oh my god, the joint terrorism task force was in my house and there were dirty dishes in my sink!). Mostly I felt a great sense of anxiety. This is where we are at. Where you have no expectation of privacy. Where trying to learn how to cook some lentils could possibly land you on a watch list. Where you have to watch every little thing you do because someone else is watching every little thing you do.

There have been numerous stories about the National Security Agency and the various ways they are tracking people through technology. I haven't commented on these stories too much since I don't want to fill this blog with my political views.

I do think it is important that you realize that almost anything you do on the internet can be tracked though. If you end up searching for the right combination of terms on Google, you may end up with federal agents on your doorstep.


The slow death of dial-up: 2 percent of us still use AOL

Brian Fung:

It’s easy to take Netflix and Spotify for granted at a time when fiber optic cables can send HD movies and high-quality audio to our computers in minutes. But according to AOL’s second-quarter earnings report Wednesday, more than 2.5 million people still subscribe to the Internet company’s services.

I recently was hired by a client who was still paying $6.99 per month to AOL. This person hasn't used dial-up in years, but was convinced that they still needed to pay the monthly fee to AOL to keep their email address. This is not the case. If you know someone who is stil paying a monthly fee to AOL and is not using dial-up (most people aren't), I would recommend that you encourage them to cancel. It took us less than three minutes to cancel the subscription. You can even have them call me to walk them through the process!


Google Maps Mobile Apps Will Now Be Polluted With Ads (Sad Face)

Mario Aguilar:

Google Maps app on your smartphone is one of those wonderful things that makes owning the gadget an absolute joy. Instant, essential knowledge. Today, Google announced that it would be robbing its iOS and Android apps of their purity by allowing advertisers to advertise against your searches.
 Ad displayed at the bottom of Google Maps on a smartphone

Ad displayed at the bottom of Google Maps on a smartphone

Have I ever mentioned that I hate ads? I understand that businesses need to have a way to create awareness about their products and services, but we live in a world inundated with advertisements.

Any chance I get I will choose to pay for an ad free experience. That is why I pay for Netflix and will often choose to purchase a television show from iTunes instead of watching it on television or on Hulu. If a free app gives me the opportunity to pay a small amount to get rid of ads, I take them up on the offer. I have been approached by a few advertising companies that want to put ads on my website and I have chosen to turn them away.

I hope that Apple chooses to take the high road and keep the Apple Maps app on the iPhone and iPad ad free.


What Is Sleep Texting?

Angela Haupt:

Indeed, young adults are so attached to their phones that many respond to texts while they’re sleeping. When the phone beeps they answer, either in words or, often, gibberish. And the next morning, they have no memory of their activity — until they check their message history. Sleep texters commonly recount their behavior using hashtags like #sleeptexting on Twitter and Instagram.

This doesn't surprise me. Many college age students have grown up with a cell phone practically attached to their body and are now finding themselves unable to disconnect even during sleep. One young woman wears mittens at night to prevent herself from sleep texting.

I have my iPhone in Do Not Disturb mode from 10pm until 7am so it will not buzz or otherwise bother me in the middle of the night. No sleep texting for me!


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