USB-C Will Soon Make USB and Micro USB Obselete

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few years, you have undoubtedly notice that laptops continue to get thinner and thinner. Manufacturers are finding new ways to shrink the thickness of their laptop devices to what would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Consider Apple’s latest MacBook Pro that comes in at a mind-blowing thickness of just 14.9mm. The Asus ZenBook comes in even thinner at 11.9mm. As the thickness of these machines decrease, manufacturers are rethinking the inclusion of the traditional USB socket (75mm tall). This is the main reason that the USB-C connector is going mainstream, included more and more on all types of devices.

So exactly what is USB-C connections and why should you care?

The main reason is that the USB-C connectivity is fast become the norm for transmitting both power and data. Just as the USB replaced connections of old, the USB-C connection is poised to replace its predecessor USB. Virtually all manufacturers are embracing the new standard in electronic connectivity, including Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Samsung, Intel, and hundreds of others. The acceptance of USB-C by the majority of PC manufacturers is important, especially if you remember the days of the Lightning and MagSafe connectors promoted, and used, by only Apple back in the day.

In reality, USB-C looks much like a micro USB connector but at closer glance, the USB-C connector has no “up-down” orientation. Plug it in either way and you are in business – no flipping needed!. The connector is identical on both ends of the cable so they really are a no brainer to use compared to other cable options in use over the last couple decades.

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USB-C is capable of sending video and power streams simultaneously. So if you have the proper adapter and cable, you can connect to virtually anything. In addition, the USB-C spec will soon be audio-capable, foreshadowing a day when the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack will become a thing of the past on all devices. And because some phones now are able to charge and transfer data (i.e. Google Pixel), phones from all manufacturers may soon eliminate the micro USB port altogether.

Another terrific (and useful) protocol that is supported by USB-C is Thunderbolt 3. This adds not only the ability to accommodate 40Gbps of bandwidth, but also adds reduced power consumption to the picture. Couple a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and you will be able to use a single cable to power and transfer large amounts of data. The MacBook Pro contains 4 USB-C connections, giving users huge potential from an expandability perspective than earlier USB connections.

Fortunately there are USB-C adapters available that can support using hardware of yesterday with today’s new machines.

Within a few years, USB-C will be the standard replacing traditional USB connections as well as micro USB connections. It will be nice to see a day when a single cable is needed to charge your phone, connect your laptop, and/or power up your tablet.

When shopping for a new laptop, you may want to consider purchasing a machine that supports USB-C connections. Thinner laptops will most likely have it, but if you are considering purchasing a desktop, do your homework to insure you don’t regret not having USB-C ports included on the machine.
Just as USB replaced serial ports on Macs and PCs (remember those?!), USB-C will be the connection of electronic devices for many years to come.

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Researchers Discover New Method Hackers Use to Control Devices

Just when you thought you were safe from hackers, yet another method for gaining access to your computer is discovered – subtitles.

Subtitles, you say? The text that shows at the bottom of a screen for foreign movies?

Yep.

Researchers have recently discovered a new attack method that allows for hackers to gain access to PCs, mobile devices, and smart TVs via malicious subtitles. Four of the most popular media players on the market – Stremio, Popcorn Time, Kodi, and VLC are at risk. This means that there are hundreds of millions of devices that are susceptible to subtitle hacking.

Hackers are able to create malicious subtitles and essentially bypass any security software on a device, giving the attacker complete control of the device and the data it contains.

Film and TV show subtitles are created by writers and they are uploaded to repository sites online such as OpenSubtitles.org. These files are then indexed and ranked. The problem arises when hackers infiltrate these repositories algorithms to convince device media players to download the malicious subtitles.

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Researchers who discovered the hack have alerted developers of the media players that are vulnerable. Some issues have already been addressed while others are still being investigated.
Security researchers encourage all users to be vigilant on updating their streaming players to the latest versions of software possible.

Because all subtitles are typically perceived as benign text files, anti-virus software and security measures are unable to vet malicious files before being downloaded by victims.

It is estimated that there are over 200 million video players that currently run the vulnerable software. The video below illustrates how attackers are able to manipulate subtitles to control your machine.

ATT & Verizon Fail to Capitalize on Samsung Galaxy 8 Rollout

As Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 was rolled out to the public, wireless carriers are all over the map with the promotions they are offering with Samsung’s new flagship mobile device. AT&T and Verizon may have missed a terrific opportunity in getting new customers using promotions that are compelling.

Check Amazon Price for Samsung Galaxy 8 >>

T-Mobile and Sprint rushed to be first in line in capitalizing on the launch of the Galaxy S8 by offering a “buy one, get one” promotion, the former in conjunction with Samsung, while the latter chose to run the promotion on their own. As a result of this action, the smaller carriers have a better chance than the giant behemoth wireless carriers to gain new customers to add to their base. So exactly why did the major wireless carriers fail to capitalize on what may be the biggest launch of a wireless phone in 2017? Only marketing Executives with the companies may know for sure.

Both ATT and Verizon offered “trade-in” offers, luring consumers with either a lower monthly cost or a substantial reduction of the price of the phone. The comparatively weaker promotions by industry leaders resulted in similar sales results as the Samsung S7. On the flipside, Sprint showed a 30% increase in sales due to its more compelling offers for the phone. T-Mobile’s Galaxy 8 promotions resulted in a 15% drop in sales for the new device versus the Galaxy S7.

With the amount of new and improved devices hitting the market are slowing, ATT and Verizon have chances to make inroads in customers with new phones being rolled out by Moto and LG later this year.

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Samsung Galaxy S9: Let the Rumors Begin!

Technology is a fickle thing. Some consumers never seem to be satisfied with what is available NOW. On the contrary, many are always looking over the technological horizon to see what the NEXT new and improved gadget will be. That is the case now with the Galaxy S8, Samsung’s latest and hottest device to date. So why concentrate on the Galaxy S8 when we can speculate and ponder about what Samsung’s S9 will bring? More fun right?.

Alas, even though the Galaxy S8 is just being released to the public and hitting store shelves, rumors are now swirling as to what its successor, the Galaxy S9, will bring to the table. Granted, this is only speculation, but there are some “facts” milling about on what the S9 may bring to consumers.

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A Korean publication has reportedly leaked the code name of the S9 development – Star, with the larger version of the phone code-named Star 2. Not too big of a stretch there! The report suggests that the development of the S9 started earlier than the S8. This could imply a few things: its new features and technologies were anticipated to take longer to develop, or Samsung is simply looking at an earlier release date in 2018. And again, this is only speculation as there have been no definitive confirmations to these “rumors”.

It’s speculated the chip will be called the Snapdragon 845, and the two companies are developing it right now.

The Galaxy S8 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, so it makes sense that Samsung will continue this relationship on with Qualcomm on moving forward with more advanced Snapdragon processors.

Little, if anything, more is known about the Galaxy S9 for now. You should see tidbits of information leaked over the next 6 months as Samsung gets ready to unveil its latest creation in cell phone technology. And as soon as the S9 is announced you can bet that will be old news and talk of the Galaxy S10 will begin. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Until then, grab a Galaxy S8. It’s a terrific phone and will serve you well until its successor takes over the internet-sphere.

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New Surface Pro by Microsoft is a Winner | Video

Microsoft unveiled an updated Surface Pro today at an event in Shanghai, China. The new and improved Surface Pro comes on the heels of the Surface Laptop, also recently unveiled by Microsoft. The company now has a trio of portable Surface machines. Each have their strengths and weakness, but this new machine brings the most value and overshadows others in the Surface Pro line of products by Microsoft.

From the outside, the machines look pretty much identical. Inside however, there are a number of improvements and enhancements the company has achieved with this new model. As with previous Surface portables, this one comes with Intel Core processors (7th generation) which makes it faster than other models in the Surface Pro line. Not only has speed been increased, but Microsoft has managed to improve battery life by about 50 % – a whopping 13.5 hour battery life before needing a charge!

It was Microsoft’s goal in this new machine to help its users not only increase productivity, but creativity as well.

The original Surface Pro was the pioneer in the hybrid concept of portables. The new Surface Pro reaches new heights and sets a standard for being the most versatile laptop in the marketplace. This machine is a very powerful PC, but is so quiet and light that using it as purely a tablet is pure delight.

What sets this machine apart from others is the balance Microsoft has achieved between versatility, power, and price. The Surface Pro starts at just $799, and comes shipped with Windows 10 Creators Update already installed.

Microsoft has got a winner with the new Surface Pro. If you are unfamiliar with the Surface Pro line of products by Microsoft, this one is definitely worth taking a serious test-drive. Avaliable June 15th, 2017

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IBM 5100: The World’s First Portable Computer Will Shock You

The IBM 5100 was considered at the time to be the world’s first portable computer. Weighing in at 50 lbs, the machine would have most likely cut off the circulation to your legs after an hour so of use, but this machine was the father of the modern day laptop.

Let’s look at some specs, shall we? 

The monitor (if you can call it that!) was only 5.5 inches, about the size of a small tablet of today. The kicker is that it could only handle 16 lines of text!  No hard drive on this baby either. It used a 1/4 inch magnetic “tape” to store its data.

If you are old enough to remember the old IBM typewriters that adorned every office in America, you will know the size of the portable computer.  It was debuted to the public in September of 1975 at a cost of….wait for it….$8995! Now every engineer and statistician in America could bring their computer along with them on the road. No need for a large room to store a mainframe! 

This beauty came in 12 different models, starting at 16k (yes, K!) and working its way up to 64K of main storage capacity.  All the bells and whistles in the super duper 5100 would set you back almost $20 Grand! ($19,975 to be exact). The 5100 was available with either APL or BASIC — or both — programming languages.

If you think a 50-pound laptop is bad, consider that not more than a decade earlier, an IBM computer with similar capabilities would have filled a small bedroom and weighed about 1000 lbs! So next time you complain about lugging that laptop around, or having to shell out $1000 for your next machine, consider just how far we have come!

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Unlocked Samsung Galaxy 8 Phones Now Available for Pre-Ordering

There is nothing worse for consumers of smartphones than to be locked into a wireless carrier after spending a small fortune for a new model.  That is why Samsung’s decision to ship unlocked Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones is a good idea for the company.

Samsung is allowing consumers to put their money down on the new Galaxy phones as early as May 31st, 2017.  This time frame falls roughly one month earlier than the release of previous Samsung phones.

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Pricing for the new Samsung model start at around $725 for the 64gb unlocked S8 and $825 for the S8 Plus unlocked model. You won’t find the S8 Samsung much cheaper than this unfortunately.  The option of purchasing the phone through ATT or Verizon will most likely get you alot of free stuff on a payment plan, but over time you will pay more for the phone itself.

You do, however, get the added benefit of a unit without any of the carrier bloatware we’ve become accustomed to with Samsung devices in the past.

So get out your wallet now if you want to take advantage of the unlocked Galaxy phones at a low price.

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Amazon Echo May Soon Have a Built-In Screen

Everyone seems to love the Amazon Echo, but we soon could see a new addition to the Echo family.

Rumors abound that Amazon will soon reveal a new device that contains a built-in screen. This deduction comes from the fact that Amazon recently introduced what is called the “Echo Look”, a smart speaker that contains an onboard camera.

The apparent goal is to stay one step ahead of Google.  Amazon has taken notice after Google unveiled a set of Home speakers that can identify multiple users.  This is a feature that the Amazon Echo does not possess at this time.

So now the battle is on from tech companies like Google and Amazon, a battle that will seek to dominate your home and its connected devices. Amazon enjoyed a head start in getting into consumers’ homes with its Alexa voice-enabled assistant, but Google is not sitting on its hands either with the introduction of a Home speaker that is “smart”.

As with any new technology, the key is to be first and to dominate with products that consumers eventually “can’t live without”.   The Apple iPhone is one good example!

If the rumors are accurate and Amazon can penetrate the home market with an Echo that features a screen that can easily facilitate online shopping and video chat, they could be on the cusp of having an in-home technological device that is a must-have for every household.

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And with the success of Amazon’s Echo, there is no doubt the fight will be a fierce one.  Consumer Intelligence Research Partners recently reported that Amazon sold a whopping 8 million Echo devices since it was first launched.

And you can bet that Apple is working on its own answer to the smart home assistant as well.

An Echo with a screen has been bounced around by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg since last November. If these reports are accurate, the device has been code-named “Knight”.

A voice assistant that features a screen is the logical progression for this type of technology, and Amazon is smart in pursuing it.  A screen can allow for more complex commands that a user and quickly navigate through.  Marrying voice commands with on-screen capability is the next step in arming a truly “smart home”.  For example, voice shopping on the Echo today often requires users to wait and listen to multiple choices, but a screen could present those options all at once.

A screen helps cut down on the misunderstanding between the user’s query (i.e. the voice) and the executed command.  Visuals along with audio will always be superior to audio alone.
As time goes on you should see a complete engagement of on-screen commands powered by audio commands.   And when artificial intelligence hits these types of device, they truly will change the world.

Isn’t it a wonderful world we live in?  Never a dull moment!

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Why the iPhone 8 Will Probably Have 3 Gigs of RAM

Many iPhone enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the release of Apple’s latest and greatest – the iPhone 8.  Hard to believe that we are up to the 8th Apple smartphone!.

Word on the street is that the newest device in the Apple iPhone lineup will not see an increase in the amount of RAM from the iPhone 7, sticking with the current amount which is 3 Gigs of RAM.

The reason? Most likely the price of mobile DRAM.  It is simply more expensive than it used to be and smartphone manufacturers are forced to make some tough decisions on just how to keep costs of their phones down.

Chip supply is also an issue.   When demand exceeds supply, prices inherently go up.  That is why it is believed by many “in the know” that the upcoming iPhones will not have more than 3 gig of RAM, with 4 gig RAM models expected in 2018.

Things could change, but for now it appears the trend is to keep RAM levels about the same as earlier models.   This may be one reason the recently-released Samsung Galaxy S8 did not see an increase in its RAM.

We still wouldn’t count a RAM raise out for now, but even if the iPhone 8 does have ‘only’ 3GB that shouldn’t be a problem, since Apple’s handsets are consistently among the best performing regardless of on-paper specs.

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The Top 10 Cheapest Places to Buy an Apple iPhone 7

Apple has amassed an enormous amount of cash, probably more than any U.S. corporation in history.  Apple’s cash hoard now amounts to about $256 billion dollars – more than the GDP of many countries!  This can be attributed mainly to the amount of money Apple has made on the iPhone.

The iPod started the huge flow of cash (and profits) for Apple, but nothing has brought more money as quickly to an American corporation as the iPhone has to Apple.   Had you purchased $10,000 of stock in Apple when the iPod was introduced in 2001, you would be a millionaire today.  Let that sink in for just a moment. 🙂

So if you are thinking about either moving to an iPhone from an Android smart phone, or if you are upgrading an earlier iPhone to the iPhone 7 or 8, plan on forking over some serious cash to the Apple coffers,  depending on what country you live in.

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The cost of an iPhone varies considerably from country to country.  Deutsche Bank has released a list of just how much an iPhone 7 will set you back in 33 different countries around the world.

The variations in price are due to a number of factors including tax laws, currency valuations, and even the political climate of the country in question.

We have listed the top 10 countries below where an iPhone is the cheapest.  Consider yourself lucky if you live in any of these countries!

United States – $815
Japan – $815
Hong Kong – $821
Malaysia – $846
Canada – $855
Singapore – $874
Philippines – $885
Switzerland – $886
United Kingdom – $898
China – $899

Want to know the top 10 most expensive countries to purchase an iPhone?   Those are listed below!

Turkey – $1,200
Brazil – $1,115
Russia – $1,086
Greece – $1,028
Poland – $1,005
Italy  – $995
Czech Republic – $994
Norway – $993
Denmark – $986
Sweden – $982

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