iPhone 6 Bending: Defective or User Error?

Sep 30
2014

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the issues people are having with Apple’s latest version of it’s iPhone. It’s been widely reported that people have had the phones in their pocket, only to discover that it had bent. Some customers have also complained that they received the phone, new and out of the box, already with a slight bow. Apple has contended that they have received only 9 complaints of the iPhone 6 bending during normal use and that the fears of a design flaw are being severely overblown. Quite honestly, I’d have to side with Apple on this. They do vigorous testing on their phones to determine the durability needs and standards that have to be met to prevent this exact situation from happening. Consumer Reports, a U.S. Non-Profit organization, did it’s own testing of the 6 and determined it to be up to snuff. It certainly helps Apple’s case when the main “evidence” being submitted are videos of kids bending the phones with their hands. Of course it’s going to bend under those circumstances. Under normal use practices, there is nothing wrong with the iPhone 6. This is coming from an Android user, to boot.

That brings me to the elusive “normal use practices”. A lot of us have had to deal with phone companies and their notorious claims departments. You already know before you call they will tell you it’s your fault, am I right? Bottom line is, customer service is a HUGE part in the success of smart phone manufacturers along with the providers that sell them. While there probably is a bit of a gray area when it comes to their definitions of “normal use”, giant companies like these aren’t going to fret about sending you a replacement if it truly is warranted. The unfortunate truth is there are a lot of people every day who try to scam for a new phone because they accidentally broke theirs and don’t want to spend another $600. These companies have to protect themselves, too.

The long and short of it is, don’t use your $600 phone as a football, baseball or hockey puck, don’t pretend it’s a pool noodle, don’t tuck it in your back pocket then sit on it (I’m looking at you ladies), don’t put it in the microwave (whole different story for another blog) or don’t run it over with your car and chances are you’ll probably be peachy. Or if you’re like me and have the worst luck in the history of luck, you can just buy the $10/month phone insurance so you have no worries. I haven’t had an incident to date but I’m sure I will now. Hold your kids tight and your phones tighter (but not too tight, that’s not normal use).

 

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HP Issues Laptop Charger Recall

Aug 29
2014

HP has recently issued a recall on certain power supplies for it’s laptop computers. You can check to see if yours is one of them here. Hewlett-Packard in conjunction with federal regulators have recalled 6 million power cords sold between September 2010 and June of 2012 with select HP and Compaq notebooks, also including some docking stations. The recall is due to the cords overheating with the potential to catch fire. 

Of the 29 reported instances, two of them involved people being burned while thirteen others reported property damage. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to stop using the recalled cords immediately to prevent any possible accidents from happening. 

This recall brings up important safety and usage tips for using laptops. You should always power down your laptop when not in use or set the sleep mode. Unlike a desktop, a laptop can overheat which can damage the computer or the furniture it’s sitting on. If you are going to pack it up in a case to use outside of home, make sure it is powered down. A laptop that is running while being in a case will have no way of venting and can melt. Do not rest your laptop on anything soft such as a pillow or blanket. The soft materials are prone to restricting air circulation from the fan and can cause the laptop to become extremely hot which can lead to burns or destruction of the computer. 

If you have an HP or Compaq laptop I would recommend checking out the link above to see if you are one of the unlucky folks included in the recall. Remember to practice safe usage in order to prevent damage to yourself or your devices.

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Battery Technology Breakthrough

Jul 31
2014

With the increasing computing power and functionality of smartphones, one of the top complaints lodged is poor battery life. That could very well be changing. A recent game breaking technology developed by researchers at Stanford University is said to be able to increase current rechargeable battery capacity by up to 400%.

We are all familiar with the term “Lithium Ion”, which is what most of all current batteries are made of. They have three core parts: an electrolyte, an anode and a cathode. The electrolyte provides the electrons (electricity), the anode discharges the electrons and the cathode which receives the electrons after they pass through the circuit. The problem today is that the electrons cannot be collected efficiently because, currently, anode’s are typically made up of graphite or silicon. However, a pure lithium anode would skyrocket performance. That is exactly what scientists believe they have accomplished. The standard for commercially viable batteries is 99.9% efficiency, which is the challenge that still lies ahead. They aren’t quite at that threshold yet but believe they are on the cusp.

If successful, we could expect cell phone batteries with double or triple the battery life, electronic cars that have the ability to travel 300 miles on a single charge without increasing the cost of the vehicles and the ability to roam longer with our laptop computers.

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CryptoLocker (Crilock): What is this?

Jun 30
2014

Folks, there is a new player in the computer virus/malware game. It’s called CryptoLocker or Crilock for short. This has been around for about a year and is a form of ransomware. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Once this virus establishes itself on your computer, it encrypts files and holds them for a “ransom”. You cannot unlock the files it has encrypted without paying a fee to the perpetrators.

How it gets in: Simply put, the virus will enter your computer through an attachment, usually in an email. If the attachment is downloaded (opened in most cases) the virus then spreads itself throughout your system and then locks down the files on your computer. Unlike some viruses or malware that simply lock up your computer, this one attacks the files on your computer and renders them useless without paying their ransom. Most people have regularly used files on either their personal or work computers, right? They are hoping that it will be important enough for you to pay the ransom. 

How to protect yourself: The very first step you should take is to purchase a good, reliable anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software program. If you already have one loaded on your computer, make sure it is updating regularly to protect against the latest threats, including CryptoLocker. Next step, make sure to keep all of your important data backed up on a regular basis. Next important tip, DO NOT under ANY circumstance open email attachments unless you know the person sending it. If you get something that looks to be from your insurance company, bank, doctor, etc.. make sure, if you weren’t expecting it, to play it safe and call them to see if it’s legit.

Hopefully none of you will ever have to worry about this. If it happens, give us a call and we will help to the best of our ability.

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Data Breaches: Should You Be Worried?

May 30
2014

Well, the answer to that is both yes and no, which, I’m sure isn’t exactly what you want to hear. We’ve all seen in the news in the last year or so about a lot of the retailers that were hacked. Target, eBay and Schnucks come to mind.  Fact of the matter is, there’s a whole lot of people who, by either pure enjoyment or job duty, try to hack into everything from the biggest retailers and banks to just the average Joe’s email account. Truth be told, it can be very profitable and that’s why most do it. Whether that be from stealing an identity and spending lots of money, clearing bank accounts or selling your personal information to marketing companies, somebody is gaining from it.

This number may scare you a bit, 630,432,294. That is the total number of records exposed in breaches since 2005. Shocking right? What’s even more shocking is that number could be 10 times that amount if it wasn’t for the extremely intelligent individuals who work to prevent hacker attacks on a day to day basis.

If you were exposed in one of the recent big box breaches, most likely your financial institution would have contacted you when the information was received. In fact, most banks and credit unions went ahead and gave everybody new cards and card numbers just to be safe. Here are a few tips to follow regarding breaches:

  1. Monitor your bank accounts – check the balance every day.
  2. Make sure your bank has issued you a new card with a new card number for each one associated with the account.
  3. Make sure you mark any emails that make it into your inbox that are unfamiliar, as SPAM.
  4. Change all of your online passwords – banking, social media, email, etc.

Hopefully it will be a long time until the next one, however, take this as a reminder to be vigilant and be careful where you make purchases.

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