July 4th + Tech = hahahaha

It’s the 4th of July, and I wanted to recognize this US holiday on this blog.

But it’s a tech blog, after all, so my dilemma was how to combine tech + July 4th.

So, I turned to Google.

A search of “tech + July 4th” turned up the cartoon, below.

Problem solved! :)

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Amazon’s New Fire Phone: Will you give up your iPhone?

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.43.56 PMToday Amazon announced their new product: A smartphone. Called the Amazon Fire Phone, it will be released on July 25 (pre-order, now).

So …. is this the phone that will make you give up your iPhone?

It seems that the iPhone has lost its WOW factor for many. When it first exploded into our world, it was an incredible leap of technology. But today, there are smartphones everywhere, and many folks no longer look at the iPhone as the one-and-only.

And today marks another new entry into the Smartphone universe. The Amazon Fire Phone.

The promo for it looks quite good. I think it all boils down to what do YOU want from your smartphone?

This new phone has several features that are standouts:

Mayday: For us un-techy types, this is HUGE. The Mayday button was introduced on the latest version of the Amazon Fire, and it has been a raging success. With the Mayday button, if you want to learn something about your phone, if you need some instruction, or if you are having a problem, you just tap the Mayday button and a LIVE person will appear on your screen to help you. Instantly. Just like that. This feature is a keeper, and I have to say, if I was considering my first smartphone, this would be a really big selling point. The helper can draw on your phone (arrows, etc) showing you exactly what to touch and how to do it. This is a major goodie to have on your phone.

Firefly technology: This is a ‘bell and whistle’ kind of thing, but also cool. Firefly will instantly recognize music, products, ads …. oodles of things in the world. With a touch of a button you get useful information and the ability to act on it as well.

One-handed reading: Just tilt the phone to scroll. (Why didn’t Apple do this? It’s brilliant!)

And how about this: With the purchase of the new Amazon Fire Phone you get one whole year of Prime, FREE. Prime gives you lots of perks in addition to the postage and quick mailing for items bought via Amazon. You also get access to a huge video streaming library, a library full of Kindle books to borrow and free music to stream and/or download. AND … if you are already a Prime member, if you purchase the Amazon Fire Phone, you get your Prime membership extended an additional year. That’s excellent!! That’s one year of Prime for EACH phone you buy. Three phones on one account? That’s three YEARS of Prime. Details, here.

The 32 GB phone will be $199 with a 2 year contract through AT&T. Other options also available.

You can learn more about the phone, and an in-depth look at all the features (MUCH more than I described) by clicking here.

So will you consider a change? Will this Amazon Fire Phone convince you to leave your iPhone behind?

There are a few things about this phone that tempt me. Me. A bona-fide Apple fan-boy-girl-lady. The Mayday button. The year of Prime. Yelp shows up directly on the maps. A larger screen. The one-hand tilt scrolling screen.

At this moment, I’m not sure. But to my own surprise, I’m considering it. Anyone who knows me (in real life) or through my blog knows that I like to take my time when approaching technology-changes. I always wait for a while, for example, before downloading the latest software update.

So I’ll not be jumping in right yet. I’ll wait and see. I’ll let others test the waters.

I’ll be trolling the internet for comparisons in every area for the iPhone vs Amazon Fire Phone. When I find a great comparison, item by item, camera vs camera, etc, I’ll be sure to link to it on this blog.

If this new phone lives up to it’s hype, a change for me is not out of the question. There are a lot of features here that I would appreciate.

This just might be my iPhone Waterloo.

How about you?

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How to Clear out Stored Website Data on your iPhone with iOS7

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 8.03.49 AMWhenever you visit a website on your iPhone, data will be stored.

The purpose?

As I understand it, this is mostly done so that you have faster loading times when you visit that website again.

But storing data fills up space. I never, ever cleared this out before, but after reading about it I decided to give it a try and I was astounded at all the data that was sitting there. I did a full sweep and dumped it all.

How to Delete the Stored Website Data on your iPhone with iOS7:

Go to Settings > Safari

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Now go way way down to the bottom and click on Advanced

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At this point, you’ll see the option to tap on Website Data

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Now you get to see all the space that the stored data is taking up.

IF you want to delete it, just scroll all the way down to the bottom and “delete all website data.”

(Or you can delete them individually, as well, by sliding your finger from right to left.)

I was astounded at the length of my list. I emptied it. I probably won’t do it again for a long long time, because I don’t think it was causing any problems whatsoever.

But I’m glad I know how to do it IF I want to do it.

And now you do, too. :)

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12 Days of Gifts for You from Apple

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 5.08.11 PMApple is giving away stuff!

From December 26 to January 6, you get to download a free gift each day. Movies, apps, books, songs …. something different every day.

This is the first time this has been offered in the US. (Last year only Canada and Europe got to be part of the fun.)

You must have iOS7 to participate.

You can download the app, now, and you will see a countdown. The countdown will continue until it is time to download your first free gift!

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All you need to do after downloading the app is … wait.

When the gifts become available, they will only be available to download for 24 hours.

It will be fun to see what surprises are in store for us. :) (It is possible that the content will be different depending on your country.)

12 Days of Gifts is free and can be downloaded, now.

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Have an Apple 1 in your Attic?

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 6.12.38 PMToday an Apple 1 computer sold for $671,400 in Germany. Made in 1976, this computer originally sold for $666 (that is $2,700 in today’s dollars). Last November, this same auction house sold an Apple 1 for $640,000, so today’s sale is a new record.

The original owner, now 84 and living in New Orleans, only parted with this machine earlier this year when a man approached him and negotiated a price of $40,000. It was this new owner who got it working and signed by Steve Wozniak… and then sold it at the auction house today for $671,400. (Whoa! I’m thinking that the New Orleans fellow was a little under-paid)

An interesting prequel to this story is that Steve Jobs himself tried to buy back the Apple 1 in 1978, offering an Apple II plus $400 as in incentive. The New Orleans gentleman turned that offer down, and held on to his machine until earlier this year.

Only 200 Apple 1′s were made, and these original machines are scarce today (only about 46 remain). Even though most are accounted for, I like to think there are still a few sitting around, tucked in an attic and undiscovered. Sadly, my attic is not harboring this treasure, but if yours is ….. I’ll happily accept a finder’s fee :lol: .

Vintage Apple-1 Sells for Record $671,400

Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record Auction Price of $671,400

Apple 1 from 1976 signed by Wozniak sells for $650,000

Remembering Life Before iTunes

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 6.15.43 PMToday is the 10th Anniversary of iTunes. What started as a way to legally download music has morphed into a digital giant. On April 28, 2003, there were 200,000 songs available to download for 99¢ each. Today the numbers are mind-numbing (over 20 billion songs sold), and of course the available downloads include not only music, but also apps, movies, books, music videos, and so much more.

What was life like before iTunes? I’m sure there are some youngsters of today who can’t even imagine a world without music-on-demand.

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 4.01.48 PMI am old enough to remember a stack of 45′s on a record player.
You’d grab a pile of records, order them as you’d like to hear them (the original playlist? :) ) and then load them on the spindle. Each record would play, and then another would drop, and so on. The spindle, however, was a lot smaller than the opening on those 45′s, so we needed an adapter. I’m guessing that if we showed one of these gadgets to random people on the street, there would be many many folks (especially those under a certain age) who would have absolutely no idea what this plastic gizmo is used for.

Photo Skitch Document-17We graduated from 45′s to LPs (a long playing record). As a teenager in the 60′s, I gathered quite a large collection of these LP albums. That collection still sits in my basement… full of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Four Seasons, the Who, the Doors, Peter Paul and Mary, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas… so much music! And so clearly “then”. I wonder how the teenagers of today will hold on to their music memories? Certainly this boatload of albums is a physical reminder for me. Will the digital collection be as powerful?

photo credit: NPR

photo credit: NPR

After LPs the big innovation was the 8 track tape. These were huge clunky plastic cartridges with the new ability to choose a song to hear, rather than having to listen to all of them in order (as you did on an LP). However, a frequent complaint was that as you listened to one song, you could faintly hear another in the background. And, of course, you had to buy the whole album. And it would jam up. And the cases would crack. In general, 8 tracks were not the best way to do music. However, for teenagers they were great since you could have an 8 track player installed in your car and listen to your music as you drove. That gave it a “wow” factor.

Photo Skitch Document-19Gradually the compact cassette took over. I remember the thrill of being able to bring my “own” music into the car with me. It was very common to copy LPs to cassettes, even making your own ‘mix tapes’. Many home stereo systems included a cassette player/recorder so that you could copy record-to-tape or even tape-to-tape. We still have our big old dinosaur LP-cassette ‘machine’ down in the basement. I’ve included this picture, cobwebs and all.

photo credit: wikipedia

photo credit: wikipedia

Then came the compact discs. I really thought that was the ultimate. Couldn’t get better than that.

But now CDs are yesterday’s news. Just ask a young person. They aren’t buying them.

It’s all digital now. And to me, this seems like “the end.” But of course it won’t be the end. There will be something else. I wonder what it will be?

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Apple Adds a Cautionary Warning for Apps That Allow In-App Purchases

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 6.27.02 PMSeveral weeks ago, the internet was buzzing with the story about the little fellow who downloaded over $2500 of in-app purchases on his father’s iPad. Although this was an extreme case, it has been a problem, and now Apple is responding with a new “alert” on the purchase-app page.

For those who don’t quite understand all this ‘in-app’ purchase stuff, let me take a moment to explain: Typically, when you buy an app, it’s a done deal. Once you buy it, your new purchased app appears on your device, ready to enjoy. There are no other fees required beyond that which you paid for the app.

But SOME apps are designed to encourage more (and more) purchases as you use it. (Greedy? I think so.) For example, a simple painting app may give you a few colors and brushes to use to create your masterpiece. But soon you find you are presented with options. Options to buy MORE brushes (shapes) and/or MORE paint colors. $$$$$

If the naive user is painting or playing with this app, they might unwittingly purchase a new brush or color. $$$$$

Many apps offer in-app purchases of some sort.

Now Apple has taken a small step …. but at least it IS a step …. to help consumers be aware when they are purchasing an app that offers in-app purchases. This is especially important if you are loading a new app for your children or grandchildren.

Here is Apple’s new message. Watch for it, and make your choices wisely!

Look for “offers in-app purchases.”

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Bigger iPad – Bigger Pricetag : Apple Releases a 128 GB Model

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 6.04.08 PMThe choices keep coming.

It wasn’t that long ago that Apple released their iPad mini.

Now they have taken their full size iPad and doubled the capacity with the new 128 GB.

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iPad (with retina display) Models:

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The price tag for all this extra space is, (of course) larger, too.

This new 128 GB option is only available for the full size iPad.

Will people be willing to pay more $ for more capacity? It all boils down to personal preference and the size of the wallet involved.

Video uses a lot of space, so I’m guessing that the happiest people will be those who like to use their iPad for movies (watching and/or making).

I have LOTS of photos on my iPad, and far, far too many apps, but I still have plenty of space on my 64GB iPad. And it is very easy to move content on and off the iPad, making room when you need it.

But for those who want more more more more more…. “more” is now available.

Weekend Distraction: Montezuma Puzzle for iPhone and iPad

Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 8.50.55 AMAt this time of year, everyone is busy doing something. Decorating, shopping, baking, visiting, partying, traveling … whew.

No time to “learn” a new game. That’s too much effort.

But how about a real distraction? You already know what to do.

NO learning curve.

Montezuma Puzzle.

Pretty, colorful, and responds nicely to your touch.

Fit the shapes on the screen. That’s it.

Gradually gets harder, but not crazy.

Go ahead .. Zone out … but don’t forget those cookies in the oven!

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Montezuma Puzzle is free in the iTunes store.

Apple Maps Endanger Lives in Australia

photo credit: CNN

photo credit: CNN

People continue to find many, many flaws with Apple maps. (My personal experience on local roads has resulted in numerous errors.)

But Australian authorities this week issued the strongest statement yet, calling the use of Apple maps “potentially life-threatening”.

Apparently, the Apple mapping service shows a city in Australia as being in the middle of a large, remote, and semi-arrid national park (instead of where it actually is).

The police have reported that several people have had to be rescued from this park, a place with no water and temperatures reaching 114 F. Thinking they were navigating their way to the nearby city of Mildura, these people ended up stranded in the middle of the very remote Murray-Sunset National Park.

The Mildura police say that “Some of the motorists located by police have been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and have walked long distances through dangerous terrain to get phone reception.”

I really don’t understand why Apple didn’t put Google maps back when they realized their major map mistake. This isn’t just sloppy design, this is, as the Australian police have stated, “potentially life-threatening.”

Make sure you double check your route with another service (google maps) before you head out on any long journey.

And let’s hope Santa isn’t depending on Apple maps this year. :)

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