Category: Android

State of Android–July 2018

My clients using Android are dwindling and I only have a handful that are really loyal to the Android platform.   I try to do this for you every once in a while.  Here is your State of Android address — as I see it.

Best Android Phones of the Year in My Opinion

Samsung Galaxy S9 / S9+ 

One Plus 6 https://www.oneplus.com/6 (does not work on Verizon – fully compatible with TMobile and ATT). They are an independent brand focused on the US market for the past 5 years.

Budget Phone:   Moto G6  ($240 full price — hard to beat.  Verizon compatible plus the other carriers. )

Comeback Kid

Nokia is coming on strong — they are back in the phone business.  Not all of their phones are US compatible but some are. These phones are also part of the Android One which means they will get mandatory updates per google.   Again they would be an ATT / Tmobile compatible phone.

Updates Matter

I would always tell someone buying an Android phone — buy it within 6 months of its release because even the best phones will get new version updates for only 2 years and security updates for 3 (Moto won’t even promise this but Samsung, Google, LG, One Plus will on their top tier phones)

The Future

Google will be releasing their latest version of the Pixel phone the fall.  It should be a very feature competitive offering on par with the best in the market.  Their phones used to have the Nexus brand but since 2016, they have moved up market with a new brand name. 

What Android Tablets

I think Android tablets (with the exception of Amazon’s Fire tablets) are totally dead.  With Apple pricing the “regular iPad” at $329, they have basically killed the Android tablet market. 

My Final Thoughts

Even though I am a day in and day out iPhone user, there are some things I think that are better on the Android platform.   I think the integration of Google voice search in everything is superb.  I think Google’s voice dictation is far better than Apple’s Siri.  While not particularly applicable (I almost typed Apple-icable) to my clients, Android gives the user the freedom to do whatever they want with the phone.  Do you want a Microsoft “desktop” (home screen launcher) on your phone instead of the default Google or Samsung one?  That’s possible with Android. 

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Technology Update for March 20th

Today’s themes are security and privacy. I hope these tips can make a difference for you.

1. Make sure you have a real billing passcode with your cellular provider

For years cellular providers have used the last 4 digits of your Social Security number as your billing passcode.  However, they also allow you to set your own passcode (some sequence of 4 to 8 numbers).  PLEASE set up your own passcode with them if you haven’t already. Do you know who is at the other end of the line when you give the last 4 of your SS# time after time? Of course not.  They might be a rogue employee or an overseas contractor looking to do you harm.  I recently heard two first hand accounts of customers (who happened to be with T-Mobile) who had their cell phone numbers transferred (aka “ported”) to another service without their authorization.  With access to their phone number, the criminal was then able to access their bank account via a code that was text messaged to them on the “new” phone.  You can only imagine the transactions that followed.  This was possible because the bad actor knew the billing passcode on the cellular account with the original provider.  It was the last 4 digits of the Social Security number.  I have been told that you can also set up your own billing passcode with other companies like Comcast.   Stop using the last 4 of your SS#.  Act now.

2. Facebook data collection nightmare

The free service they have provided you for over a decade is not free. Chances are, your data has been mined repeatedly since you signed up for the most used social network.  By no means am I calling for a mass exodus from Facebook.  I have clients who post no content of their own, but use it to stay in touch with family, their community, and organizations they support.  There are practical and very positive uses for Facebook.  However, you’ve likely seen the news over the past few days.  Facebook claims to have been exploited by a data analytics firm that relied heavily on its site for their business model.  Frankly, the practice has been going on for years (with many partners) and Facebook has been a willing provider when it suited their interests.  Think of all of the games, apps, and surveys you have logged into with your Facebook account.  Parts of or all of your entire Facebook profile have been shared with those 3rd parties.   It is time for you to tighten the belt on your Facebook profile and privacy.

3. Net Neutrality:  Bye Bye

Are you worried about the FCC doing away with Net Neutrality protections?  The end is near.  Your internet service provider may not be able to know what you do on secure (https) websites but they will be able to sell the data of which websites you go to and use this info for their own marketing purposes.   If they take their newfound latitude to an extreme, they could even create tiers of internet service based on usage.  Ok, so you want to use You Tube and Netflix?  We will charge you more!  You can block your provider from seeing your traffic, period.  Use a VPN – a virtual private network.  A VPN is a service (think of it at as a small program) that runs in conjunction with your internet service.  It is easy to turn on and off or just leave on automatically.  There are only two VPN’s that I can recommend faithfully.  They are Private Internet Access and Tunnel Bear.  These services work on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.  They cost approximately $4 to $5 a month.  Put the brakes on further exploitation of your data.

Technology Services I Like–February 2018

1.  I found an electrical wizard for you.   I want to tell you about Ryan Eriksson from Eriksson Electric.  He knows his stuff.  Ryan can make sound recommendations but he also believes in respecting the customer’s comfort level.  He has a mind for saving on costs when possible. He believes in embracing modern technologies.  Ryan replaced three ceiling light fixtures in my home over the past few days.   He recommended LED-based fixtures that not only looked great, but are environmentally and budget friendly.   Ryan will let his customers buy their own equipment at Home Depot if they choose.  He even accompanied me on a trip to Home Depot on Friday and did not charge me for the time.   I cannot say enough good things about him.   You can call or text him at 860-236-4352.  You can check out Eriksson on the web at http://erikssonelectric.com/

2. Dropbox — is probably my #1 favorite computer based service of all time.  I have been a user since 2008.  At times I have used the free account and at times I have been a paid customer.   Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free. Through various “bonuses” I have accumulated from them over the years, I have a 7 GB of storage on my free account.  After a quick installation, Dropbox will show up as a folder on your Windows or Mac computer.  Within it you can put multiple sub folders to store your files.   The beauty of Dropbox is that it isn’t really a backup service although you can use it to back up your files.   Dropbox is a file synchronization service.   That means if you put a document titled “Vacation Plans” in your Dropbox folder on your Mac / PC, you can also view that document on your iPhone, Android phone, or iPad where you have the free Dropbox app installed.  You can also easily share files from Dropbox.  Dropbox has never let me down.  Get started at https://www.dropbox.com/

3.  One Drive — Dropbox is not the only game in town for online file storage and synchronization.  One Drive is Microsoft’s answer.   It can work on all of the device types that Dropbox works on (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android).  One Drive does have a key advantage.  At https://onedrive.com you can see your files that you have save, but you can also create and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents right there in your web browser.  The online version of Microsoft Office is about 70% as feature rich as the desktop version of Office, but its so convenient.  It probably good enough for most consumer use cases.  And its free.  Maybe you don’t need to buy Office the next time you are required to.  You may be able to get by with https://onedrive.com .

4.  Google Drive — I should also mention Google Drive which is most comparable to One Drive.  If you have a Google / Gmail account, you should check out Google Drive.  It is an online storage and sync service, but that’s not all.  You can also create and share documents using Docs (Word equivalent), Sheets (Excel), and Slides (PowerPoint).  As with One Drive, you can also collaborate on documents live with other people.   If you and I were working on a proposal together, we could both edit using Google Drive.  Google Drive was first to the game with this collaboration technology, but Microsoft is catching up fast.  Put on your jacket and Drive at https://drive.google.com

Picks–Clubhouse Leaders in Technology

With a great British Open wrapping up last Sunday, culminating in a win by American Jordan Spieth, I wanted to use a golf theme for today’s update.

I seek to tell you about my clubhouse leaders in 3 product categories.  These best in class products have finished their rounds.  They are worth your investment should you need them.   Amazon or other links are provided

Routers

With Apple not having updated their routers with new models since 2013, I have suggested that it is time to look to other brands.  I have worked with the Asus, Netgear, Linksys, and Belkin models of the world.  I have recently gotten involved in setting up “mesh” WiFi systems for clients.   Mesh systems entail a base router and 1 or 2 satellites.  It is a perfect solution for a long or a large house.  This new technology is the replacement for wireless extenders.    However, for many of my clients including those living in an apartment or a house with less than 2,000 sq ft, a single router will get the job done.    For a single router, I am recommending the Asus brand.   Today, I set up a new router for a client in under 30 minutes.   The entire process could not have easier.   Asus also regularly updates the software on their new routers.  This is critical in terms of combating security threats. 

I can highly recommend these 2 ASUS routers

RT-AC66U-B1   http://amzn.to/2vKszqe

RT-AC1900P   http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-wireless-ac-dual-band-wi-fi-router-black/5091000.p?skuId=5091000

Printer

If you need just the basics, meaning black and white, along with copying and scanning capabilities, I could only steer you toward a Brother MFC (multi-function) machine.  Accept no substitutes.   You don’t have to worry about color ink cartridges.  You can buy one toner at a time from Amazon or Staples.  You get a very low cost per print.   I have been using my Brother black and white laser since 2013.  Today there is an updated model that supports Air Print (iOS) and Google Print.  Your mobile devices are covered. 

MFCL 2740DW  http://amzn.to/2h4H5FW

Small Speaker

Have you ever wanted to play your iPhone, iPad or Android device out loud?   The built in speaker on your device will only take you so far.   You need this wireless speaker from Anker.  It produces loud, crisp sound that will help your media come alive or soothe you at night. 

Anker Sound Core 2  http://amzn.to/2vKgGAF

I’ll see you at the bar after you finish your round.   Have an O’Douls ready for me!

Your Questions Answered

1.  Capturing a screen shot:   sometimes you’ll want to do this.   Perhaps you want to show me whats on your screen in the process of getting help.  You might want to take a screen shot to compare notes with another person, for example if you both have the same program open and they claim you are not seeing the same thing.   Perhaps you want to capture what is on your screen exactly as it looks for some type of evidentiary or archival reason.   This is easy.   I will cover both Windows and Mac scenarios.

Windows:     traditionally on most Windows computers — there has been a Print Screen button on your keyboard.    Press it.  Then open up a program like Microsoft Word (or equivalent) and then   Paste from the Edit menu (or Paste Special).   Your screen image will appear in the document.   You may want to print in Landscape mode (wide) to get the screen shoot to appear all on one page.     In Windows 7, there is a an additional way to capture a screen shot.  On your start menu — look for Snipping Tool.   If it isn’t obviously its in All Programs >> Accessories.    This allows you to drag a window around what you want to capture.  It then saves the image as a picture file on your screen.   You can then save that image and do what you want with it.

 

Mac:   There is a great utility baked into the Mac called Grab.  I use it often; in fact I keep it in my dock for easy access.    To open Grab for the first time, open Finder >> Utilities >> Grab.    Click on the Capture menu at the top and then chose whether you want to capture just a selection (of your choosing), a window (a particular program’s window), or the whole screen.    After the screen shot is taken, a picture file opens on your screen.  From there you can save it, e-mail it or print it.

 

2.   Dealing with a troubling spam e-mail message:    it happens.   Someone told me they received an e-mail telling them they had ordered something and a tracking number was even provided in the e-mail.  It wasn’t even a valid tracking number with the shipper.    So what’s the deal?    The senders of this message are likely located in Jamaica, Nigeria, or perhaps an eastern european country.  They would like nothing more  than for you to engage them in discussion.   DON’T.   Doing so will expose you to financial harm and possibly harassment.    Just as there is troubling postal mail from time to time or chain letters asking for money to be sent to the next link, there are even more sophisticated e-mail scams.   It isn’t a good idea to respond to the postal mail and it isn’t a good idea to respond to the junk e-mail.

 

A couple of tips:   Use one e-mail address for real correspondence and another e-mail address for online shopping, newsletter subscriptions, and other things you sign up for.     It would be wise to use the personal correspondence e-mail for secure things like banking as well.      Your real e-mail account should be one that you pay for or have a high degree of control over.   This could include one connected to your internet service or one that you pay for separately.  If you are looking to establish a new personal (or business) e-mail address that has some accountability associated with it, consider Google Apps ($5 a month / $50 per year) or PoBox.com @ $50 per year.

 

3.    I believe I’ve touched on this once before — but it bears repeating because at different times we are all shopping for something.    THERE IS NO MORE WHITE APPLE MAC BOOK LAPTOP FOR $999.  It’s been off the market for one year.  It came in a “standard” screen size of 13.3 inches and was not some cut rate starter model.  It was a great deal.    Apple phased that out and replaced it with the 11.6 inch Mac Book Air  for $999.       In my opinion, this is more of a toy than any thing else.  It might be a laptop for OCCASIONAL USE but not for getting work done on.   The screen is too small and without a laptop stand there will be some serious neck strain.    So you really have 2 choices for a standard sized Mac laptop — at 13.3 inches:

 

Mac Book Pro   13  – $1199 to $1499

Mac Book Air 13  –  same pricing

 

4.   Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit:     Apple scored a major victory against Samsung on Friday for patent infringement.    Interestingly enough Samsung’s tablets were judged not to have violated patents related to the iPad.     For those of you who are out of the loop on this — Samsung is the #1 seller of Android phones — an iPhone rival.     The lawsuit did not cover Samsung’s latest blockbuster phone – the Galaxy S III  which has sold over 10 million units since it was released in June.    Again for those of you who do not know — Android is the software on the phone and was designed by Google.    The software on an iPhone is called iOS.   Why didn’t Apple sue Google (yet) ?    Google actually provides the software to companies that make Android phones like Motorola, Samsung, and HTC — for FREE.  However, Google does profit from it in other ways.  If you have an older Samsung Android phone — Samsung may be pushing a software update out to you to ensure compliance with patent law.    Do I still think some people should consider an Android phone?   Yes.   Especially if you are connected with many Google services — you will probably like a GOOD Android phone better.   Keep in mind there are many bad Android phones on the market.   If you were the type that liked to tinker with a car in your younger days — you’ll like an Android.   If you want the best deal out of the box with no tinkering — you’ll prefer an iPhone.  If you want a phone with a physical keyboard — you’ll want an Android phone.

Google acquires Quickoffice, productivity enhancements en route

Google acquires Quickoffice, productivity enhancements en route.

As of right now, there is no Microsoft Office for the iPad.  This may be changing later in the year.  Currently, Quick Office is the best way to edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files on your iPad or iPhone.   With Google buying the company, it appears development will continue for a long time to come.  Documents To Go was once a great product for mobile devices dating way back to the Palm days.  They too have an office suite for the iDevices.  In 2010 DataViz (a Connecticut company) sold Docs 2 Go and other assets to RIM (Blackberry).  Personally, I think Quick Office is a superior product.  You can buy it on your iDevice or through iTunes on your computer.