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17Jan/18

Do you need a smart band or a smartwatch?

The world of wearable devices is vast and complicated: there are all types, sizes, colors and prices. I’m most often asked about the difference between smart bands and smartwatches, and which is better. In this article, I’ll explain the differences to help you decide which is right for your needs.

What are smart bands?

Connected bracelets or smart bracelets are called smart bands. In most cases, they have a simple form and their main function is to track and analyze your movements during the day. That’s why, most smart bands have a pedometer, and sometimes also an optical heart rate sensor and various other sensors.

Smart bands are closer to the concept of a bracelet than a watch, but there are some smart bands with displays that can tell you the time and various other useful tidbits of information.

What are smartwatches?

Smartwatches are like regular watches, but with smart features. Their shape is close to that of a normal watch and usually these devices are paired with a smartphone to perform their main functions.

Smartwatches, in principle, all have a display that simulates the dial of a real clock, analog or digital. Thanks to the display, many other features are made possible, like reading notifications, interacting with them, using the apps installed on the smartwatch itself or choosing an alternate watch face that fits our style. There are also hybrid smartwatches with real hands and some limited smart functionality.

Which should you choose?

The choice between a smart band and a smartwatch is personal, but there are some things you should keep in mind when deciding which fits your needs best. First, you should ask yourself if you want to be able to read the time on your wrist. If the answer is yes, don’t rule out smart bands entirely, because some can display time. Second, you should determine whether or not you’re interested in monitoring your heart rate. If the answer is yes, you still don’t have to rule out smart bands, as some like the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 have this feature.

Another question to ask yourself is if you want to use the wearable every day, or only when you are doing physical activity? Not only that, the last thing to consider is perhaps the most important of all: do you want to be able to interact with notifications?

The answers to those last two questions are the ones that move the needle from one category to the other. Smartwatches can inform you that a notification has arrived, and you can even interact with them by replying with quick responses or your voice. In addition, smartwatches have a more traditional design so they can fit in everyday situations, elegant dinners or work meetings.

On the other hand, smart bands are more conspicuous and sometimes brightly colored, though it depends on the model. Smart bands tend to have better battery life due to either having no display or just a small one, and no apps or notifications to sync. One of the few exceptions to this is the Gear Fit2 Pro, a smart band with a beautiful display and many apps available.

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15Jan/18

How to Keep Your Mac Keyboard and Mouse Clean

The day you unpacked and started working with your new Mac was special; it marked the day when your Mac’s keyboard and mouse were working at their best. From that day forward, little bits of grime, dust, and dirt have been building up on these often-used peripherals. The buildup of gunk will slowly cause your mouse to feel less responsive, and may even cause your keyboard to miss a key click or two now and then.

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to restore a keyboard and mouse to like-new condition. All that’s needed is a bit of cleaning and attention.

Cleaning Suggestions

Start by turning off your Mac and unplugging your mouse and keyboard. If your keyboard or mouse is battery powered, remove the batteries as well.

Have the following items on hand:

Microfiber cloth
Can of pressurized air
Clean water (It doesn’t need to be purified, distilled, or anything else special; just clean.)
Cotton swabs or similar cleaning products
Toothpicks or similar items
Cleaning Your Mac’s Mouse

Wipe the mouse body with the microfiber cloth. This should be enough to remove any oils, such as fingerprints. For stubborn spots, dip the cloth in the clean water and rub the mouse gently. Don’t apply water directly to the mouse because it may drip into the mouse’s inner workings, where sensitive electronics reside.

Don’t be afraid to use a little pressure to scrub off really dirty spots on the mouse.

Just as long as your not applying pressure near any scroll wheel, cover, or tracking system.

Mighty Mouse

If you have an Apple Mighty Mouse, the scroll ball also needs to be cleaned. Slightly dampen the microfiber cloth and roll the scroll ball against the cloth. You can also try using the cotton swabs to help clean the scroll ball.

Once the scroll ball is clean, use the can of pressurized air to blow out dust and dirt from inside the well the scroll ball sits in. This also serves to dry the scroll ball after you’ve cleaned it.

Magic Mouse

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse, cleaning is vastly simplified. You can clean the touch surface with a wet or dry microfiber cloth, and run the microfiber cloth along the two guide rails on the bottom of the Magic Mouse.

If your Magic Mouse seems to have tracking errors, that is, the mouse pointer stalls or jumps about, use the can of pressurized air to clean around the tracking sensor on the bottom of the Magic Mouse.

Other Mice

If you have a third-party mouse, follow the manufacturer’s suggested cleaning instructions, or take a look at How to Clean a Mouse by Tim Fisher, a fellow Lifewire expert who really knows his way around a PC. In general, use a microfiber cloth to clean the exterior of the mouse. If the mouse has a scroll wheel, you may find that it routinely becomes clogged with gunk. Use cotton swabs to clean the scroll wheel and the can of pressurized air to clean around the scroll wheel.

In the worst cases, you may need to open up the mouse to access the optical sensor in the scroll wheel system.

Not all mice are easily opened up, and some are very difficult to put back together once opened. I don’t recommend performing mouse surgery unless you already have a replacement mouse available, and don’t mind ending up with leftover mouse parts, or looking for that little spring that sailed across the room.

Cleaning Your Keyboard

Clean your keyboard surface using a microfiber cloth. For stubborn surfaces, dampen the cloth with clean water. Wrap a toothpick with a single layer of the microfiber cloth to clean between the keys.

Use the can of pressurized air to blow out any additional debris from around the keys.

Cleaning a Keyboard After a Spill

Spilling a beverage onto a keyboard is probably the most common cause of keyboard death. However, depending on the liquid, and how fast you react, it is possible to save a keyboard that has undergone a spillage.

Water and other clear liquids

Clear and semi-clear beverages, such as water, black coffee, and tea, are the easiest to recover from, with water offering the best chances, of course. When a spill occurs, quickly unplug the keyboard from your Mac, or quickly turn it off and remove its batteries. Don’t wait to shut down your Mac; disconnect the keyboard or remove its batteries as quickly as possible.

If the liquid was plain water, wait 24 hours to allow the water to dry before reconnecting the keyboard or replacing its batteries. With any luck, your keyboard will power back up and you’ll be ready to go.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee or tea spills are slightly more problematic, because of the acid levels in these beverages. Depending on the keyboard design, these beverages can cause very small signal wires within the keyboard to be etched over time and stop working. Many sources suggest flooding the keyboard with clean water, in the hope of diluting the acid levels, and then letting the keyboard dry out for 24 hours, to see if it still works. I’ve tried this method a few times, but it has failed more often than not. On the other hand, what have you got to lose?

Soda, Beer, and Wine

Carbonated beverages, beer, wine, and other hot or cold beverages are death sentences to most keyboards.

Of course, it depends on how much was spilled. A drop or two can usually be cleaned up quickly, with little or no lasting damage. If the spill was larger, and the liquid got inside the keyboard, well, you can always try the water submersion method, but don’t get your hopes up.

No matter what type of spill occurs, the key to possibly salvaging a keyboard is to disconnect it from any electrical source (batteries, USB) as quickly as possible and allow it to completely dry out before you try using it again.

Disasemble the keyboard

You can improve the chances of the keyboard recovering by removing the individual keys. The process is different for each keyboard model but in general, a small flat blade screwdriver can be used to pop the keys off. The larger keys such as shift, return, space bar, will sometimes have retaining clips or multiple connection points. Be especially careful when removing those keys.

With the keys removed, you may notice stains, puddled liquids, or other indications of specific areas on the keyboard that need attention. Use a slightly damp cloth to clean any stains and to soak up any standing liquids still present. You can also try using the can of pressurized air to dry areas where evidence indicates the liquid has gotten into the key mechanism.

Don’t forget to make a map of where each key goes to allow you to replace all of the keys. You may think you know where each key belongs, but when it comes time to reassemble the keyboard, a map may be just the guide you need.​

I can’t tell you how many keyboards we have around our office that work just fine, except for one or two keys, all of which were killed by spillage.

On a brighter note, I’ve never heard of a keyboard spillage causing damage beyond the keyboard itself.

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11Jan/18

PC Power Supply Buyer’s Guide

How to Make Sure You Get the Right Type of PSU to Match Your Needs

Power supply units (PSUs) are often overlooked when building a desktop computer system. A poor quality power supply can greatly reduce the life span of a good system or cause instability. A high quality one can also help reduce the noise or heat generated within a computer system. Whether you are buying one for a new computer or replacing a old unit, here are some tips for purchasing a desktop PC power supply.

Avoid Power Supplies Under $30

Most power supplies that are priced below $30 generally do not meet the power requirements of the latest processors. To make matters worse, the components used in them are of inferior quality and more likely to fail over time. While they may power the computer system, inconsistencies in the power to the components will tend to cause instability and damage to the computer over time. Because of this, I generally do not recommend they extremely low cost power supplies.

ATX12V Compliant

Developments in processors, the PCI Express bus and graphics cards have all increased the amount of power required to operate them. To help provide this extra power, the ATX12V standard was developed. The problem is that it has been revised over time with various different power supply connectors to meet the necessary specifications. Make sure that it comes with the proper main power leads that you need for your motherboard.

One way you can tell whether a power supplies is compliant with your computer components is to check the type of power connectors are supplied to the motherboard. If it is missing one of the connectors your motherboard needs, it probably does not support the proper ATX12V standard.

Knowing the Wattage Ratings

Wattage ratings on power supplies can be deceptive as this is the total combined wattage of all the voltage lines and generally under peak rather than sustained loads. With the increased demands by components, the total required output particularly for the +12V line has become increasingly important especially for those that are using dedicated graphics cards. Ideally a power supply should have at least 18A on the +12V line(s). The actual load you need will vary depending upon your components. If you are not planning on using a graphics card, a 300 Watt power supply is probably sufficient but if you are running one or more graphics cards, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s recommended PSU wattage.

Having the Right Type and Number of Connectors

There are a variety of different power connectors that come off a power supply. Some of the different connectors include 20/24-pin power, 4-pin ATX12V, 4-pin Molex, floppy, SATA, 6-pin PCI-Express graphics and 8-pin PCI-Express graphics. Take stock of what power connectors your PC components require to ensure you get a power supply with the appropriate connectors. Even if it might lack some connectors off the power supply, check what cable adapters the power supply may include to mitigate the problem.

One other thing to consider is modular cables. Higher wattage power supplies tend to have a large number of cables running off of them. If you have limited space within your case, this may cause issues as you have to bundle the cables up. A modular power supply offers power cables that can be attached only if you need them. This helps reduce cable clutter which can restrict airflow and make it difficult to work within a computer.

Physical Size

Most people don’t give much consideration to the actual size of the power supply. After all, are they not all a standard size? While they are general guidelines for the size of the units, they actually can vary a good deal and make it difficult to git within your computer case.

For instance, higher wattage power supplies tend to be a bit longer to hold the additional power components they need. This may cause issues with cable routing or even fitting in other internal components. Finally, if you are using a small form factor case, it may require a specialized power supply such as SFX rather than ATX.

Low or No Noise

Power supplies generate a lot of noise from fans used to keep them from overheating. If you don’t want a lot of noise, there are a number of options available. The best choice is for a unit that either uses larger fans that move more air through the unit at slower speeds or to get one with temperature controlled fans. Another option is fanless or silent power supplies that generate no noise but these do have their own drawbacks.

Power Efficiency

Power supplies convert voltages from wall outlets to lower levels used by the PC. During this conversion, some power is lost as heat. The efficiency level of the PC determines how much extra power must be put into the power supply to run the PC. By getting a more efficient power supply, you end up saving money through the use of less overall electricity. Look for a unit that has the 80Plus logo showing that it has passed certification. Just be warned that some of the highest efficiency power supplies may cost so much more that the power savings does not match their increased cost.

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10Jan/18

Cold Weather Can Mess With Your Phone. Here’s How to Protect It

Apple says its iPhones are made to operate in temperatures above 32 degrees. Much of the country won’t even creep above that mark until the second week of January – and tens of millions of Americans are enduring lows in the negative double digits.

In conditions like these, many smartphones will be start experiencing problems like shutting off, shortened battery life, display problems or even the glass shattering. Most smartphone batteries are lithium-ion, which can stop discharging electricity in extremely cold temperatures, Roger Gurney, owner of Arctic Tech Solutions, explained to USA Today. Here are a few tricks you can use to keep your phone working in Arctic temperatures.

Keep it in your your pocket

Even something as simple as keeping your phone in your pocket or bag can help shield it from icy temperatures. Keeping your phone in your pocket will also allow it to benefit from your body heat to help keep it close to optimal temperatures.

Smartphones are most vulnerable when left out in the cold or without heat for extended periods of time – so avoid leaving them in parked cars.

Use a special case

If you absolutely need to keep your phone out in the cold weather, there are a few cases that are specially designed to keep phones warm. Makers include ClimateCase, Burton Antifreeze and Salt Cases.

ClimateCase uses insulated neoprene to keep the cold out. It also comes with an extra pocket for storage and it’s machine washable. Burton’s case also uses insulation to keep phones warm and offers an extra pocket for cards or cash you may want on hand. Salt Cases are insulated against the cold, but use more traditional phone case style that can be kept on during use. They also have laptop and tablet designs.

Wait to charge your phone

While most performance issues related to cold weather are temporary, Apple warns that charging iOS devices in extreme temperatures can damage the devices further.

Turn your phone off

iPhones, iPads, iPods and Apple Watches all have a working temperature range of about 32 to 95 degrees. However, when not in use the safe range increases to -4 to 113 degrees.

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9Jan/18

Apple Confirms All Macs and iOS Devices Are Affected by ‘Meltdown’ Chip Flaw

Apple Inc. said all Mac computers and iOS devices, like iPhones and iPads, are affected by chip security flaws unearthed this week, but the company stressed there are no known exploits impacting users.

The Cupertino, California-based company said recent software updates for iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, Mac desktops and laptops, and the Apple TV set-top-box mitigate one of the vulnerabilities known as Meltdown. The Apple Watch, which runs a derivative of the iPhone’s operating system is not affected, according to the company.

Despite concern that fixes may slow down devices, Apple said its steps to address the Meltdown issue haven’t dented performance. The company will release an update to its Safari web browser in coming days to defend against another form of the security flaw known as Spectre. These steps could slow the speed of the browser by less than 2.5 percent, Apple said in a statement posted on its website.

Apple shares rose less than 1 percent to $173.56 in early trading Friday in New York.

Intel Corp. on Wednesday confirmed a report stating that its semiconductors contain a vulnerability based around a chip-processing technique called speculative execution. Intel said its chips, which power Macs and devices from other manufacturers, contain the flaw as well as processors based on ARM Holdings architecture, which is used in iOS devices and Android smartphones.

In December, Apple came under fire for iPhone software changes that reduced the performance of some older models of its smartphone. Alongside an apology and an explanation that a software change was implemented to balance out the effect of aging batteries, the company reduced the cost of replacing the power units from $79 to $29 through the end of 2018.

Security experts have said highly regulated sectors of industry, such as government offices and public health institutions, are most at risk of compromise as a result of the chip security vulnerability.

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8Jan/18

How to protect your PC from the major Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws

A pair of nasty CPU flaws exposed this week have serious ramifications for home computer users. Meltdown and Spectre let attackers access protected information in your PC’s kernel memory, potentially revealing sensitive details like passwords, cryptographic keys, personal photos and email, or anything else you’ve used on your computer. It’s a serious flaw. Fortunately, CPU and operating system vendors pushed out patches fast, and you can protect your PC from Meltdown and Spectre to some degree.

It’s not a quick one-and-done deal, though. They’re two very different CPU flaws that touch every part of your operating system, from hardware to software to the operating system itself. Check out PCWorld’s Meltdown and Spectre FAQ for everything you need to know about the vulnerabilities themselves. We’ve cut through the technical jargon to explain what you need to know in clear, easy-to-read language. We’ve also created an overview of how the Spectre CPU bug affects phones and tablets.

The guide you’re reading now focuses solely on protecting your computer against the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws.

How to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws

Here’s a quick step-by-step checklist, followed by the full process.

Update your operating system
Check for firmware updates
Update your browser
Keep your antivirus active
First, and most important: Update your operating system right now. The more severe flaw, Meltdown, affects “effectively every [Intel] processor since 1995,” according to the Google security researchers that discovered it. It’s an issue with the hardware itself, but the major operating system makers have rolled out updates that protect against the Meltdown CPU flaw.

Microsoft pushed out an emergency Windows patch late in the day on January 3. If it didn’t automatically update your PC, head to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, then click the Check now button under “Update status.” (Alternatively, you can just search for “Windows Update,” which also works for Windows 7 and 8.) Your system should detect the available update and begin downloading it. Install the update immediately.

You might not see the update, though. Some antivirus products aren’t playing nice with the emergency patch, causing Blue Screens of Death and boot-up errors. Microsoft says it’s only “offering the Windows security updates released on January 3, 2018 to devices running anti-virus software from partners who have confirmed their software is compatible with the January 2018 Windows operating system security update.” Security researcher Kevin Beaumont is maintaining an updated list of antivirus compatibility status. Most are supported at this point. If your AV isn’t supported, do not manually download the Meltdown patch unless you turn it off and switch to Windows Defender first.

But machines with compatible antivirus still may not automatically apply the update. If you’re sure your security suite won’t bork your system, you can also download the Windows 10 KB4056892 patch directly here. You’ll need to know whether to grab the 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) version of the update. To determine if your PC runs a 32- or 64-bit version of Windows, simply type “system” (without the quotation marks) into Windows search and click the top listing. It’ll open a Control Panel window. The “System type” listing will tell you which version of Windows you’re running. Most PCs released in the past decade will be using the 64-bit operating system.

Apple quietly worked Meltdown protections into macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, which released in December. If your Mac doesn’t automatically apply updates, force it by going into the App Store’s Update tab. Chromebooks should have already updated to Chrome OS 63 in December. It contains mitigations against the CPU flaws. Linux developers are working on kernel patches. Patches are also available for the Linux kernel.

Now for the bad news. The operating system patches will slow down your PC, though the extent varies wildly depending on your CPU and the workloads you’re running. Intel expects the impact to be fairly small for most consumer applications like games or web browsing, and initial testing supports that. Our FAQ digs into potential PC performance slowdowns from the patches. You still want to install the updates for security reasons.

Check for a firmware update

Because Meltdown’s CPU exploits exist on a hardware level, Intel is also releasing firmware updates for its processors. “By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years,” it said in a statement on January 4.

Actually getting those firmware updates is tricky, because firmware updates aren’t issued directly from Intel. Instead, you need to snag them from the company that made your laptop, PC, or motherboard—think HP, Dell, Gigabyte, et cetera. Most prebuilt computers and laptops have a sticker with model details somewhere on their exterior. Find that, then search for the support page for your PC or motherboard’s model number.

Update your browser

You also need to protect against Spectre, which tricks software into accessing your protected kernel memory. Intel, AMD, and ARM chips are vulnerable to Spectre to some degree. Software applications need to be updated to protect against Spectre. The major PC web browsers have all issued updates as a first line of defense against nefarious websites seeking to exploit the CPU flaw with Javascript.

Microsoft updated Edge and Internet Explorer alongside Windows 10. Firefox 57 also wraps in some Spectre safeguards. Chrome 63 made “Site Isolation” an optional experimental feature. You can activate it right now by entering chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process into your URL bar, then clicking Enable next to “Strict site isolation.” Chrome 64 will have more protections in place when it launches on January 23.

Keep your antivirus active

Finally, this ordeal underlines how important it is to keep your PC protected. The Google researchers who discovered the CPU flaws say that traditional antivirus wouldn’t be able to detect a Meltdown or Spectre attack. But attackers need to be able to inject and run malicious code on your PC to take advantage of the exploits. Keeping security software installed and vigilant helps keep hackers and malware off your computer. Plus, “your antivirus may detect malware which uses the attacks by comparing binaries after they become known,” Google says.

PCWorld’s guide to the best antivirus for Windows PCs can help you find the best option for your setup—though note the section above where we discuss the compatibility issues some AV programs are having with the new Windows patch.

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5Jan/18

Install Computer’s Power Supply

Teach you how to replace your computer’s internal power supply component.

Step 1.Find the power supply.

This supplies power to the other components, which is why it has so many wires coming out of it. It is usually positioned at the back top corner of the computer case. The power supply has a fan built into it to keep itself and the computer cool.

Step 2.Get into the tower.

To get into the tower, you will have to remove the panel which is on the right hand side when viewing the tower from the back. Open this side of computer case by removing the screws at the back of the tower which are holding it in place. Then simply slide the panel off.

Step 3.Disconnect the power cables.

Cable from the power supply should be connected to each component requiring power. These cables are easy to disconnect simply pull out the plugs from sockets on the back of the components. The plug and socket on the motherboard are a different shape from the normal type, but it should come out just as easily. It may be a good idea to write down how many sockets were disconnected so you can make sure they are all reconnected later with the new unit.

Step 4.Remove the power supply.

Remove the screws at the back of the power supply unit while supporting it with one hand. Once the screws are undone it should be easy to slip the old unit out of the tower.

Step 5.Power cable connection.

Screw in new drive then connect the power cables to every component that was originally connected. Remember if any components are left unconnected they will not work.

Step 6.Get it going again.

Switch the computer on, if all the components have been connected you should be ready to go.

Q&A

My PSU is on the top front of my case. Can you help me to remove it? It comes with a case so it’s generic?

Check for screws on the outside of the case, and inside of it. See where the PSU is being held into the case. I cannot help that much as I do not know what case you have.

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3Jan/18

Top tips for shooting video on your smartphone

The phone you carry around all day is also a brilliant video recorder. Here are some basic tips for mastering mobile video.

As Christmas draws closer, many of us will be taking photos and shooting videos on our phones.

Follow our shooting tips to make your home movies even better.

Shooting Tips

Record in landscape

Filming in portrait mode can seem natural because that’s generally how we hold and use our phones. But it’s no good if you want to share it on any online portal or cast it to your TV. That’s because you’ll get vertical black borders surrounding your thin-looking clip.

So shoot in landscape mode – holding the phone is on its side – is essential. You might have to stand a little further from your subject, but it gives you a wider angle to fit more of the scene in your shot.

Keep a steady hand

There’s nothing more distracting than wobbly video, motion blur and out-of-focus subjects. One way to steady your shot is to hold your phone with both hands.

It’ll help you cut the amount of movement – but take care not to cover the lens or the microphone by mistake.

Many high-end smartphones, like the Sony Xperia X, have stabilisation technology to help reduce shake.

Keep movement smooth

Capturing moving subjects isn’t easy. So you’ll need to keep your camera movements smooth. One way to do that is by moving your body rather than just your arms – keep your elbows locked to your side and rotate your body instead. Or try using a tripod.

Take care with zooming

The digital zoom on most smartphone video cameras enlarges the pixels, which can diminish the quality. So try not to use it unless you really need to.

If you can, get closer to your subject instead. The alternative is pixelated, noisy video you won’t want to watch anyway. Have you ever had to sit through a friends’ video shot at a concert? That’s what you want to avoid.

Experiment to find the best light

It’s important to try to find the best light for your imagery, so move around and make use of natural light if possible. In daylight, try to make sure the sun is lighting your scene rather than shining directly into the lens.

Avoid the flashlight

On most phone cameras, the flash can double up as a light to illuminate subjects when recording video. But it can be too strong and make it look unnatural. So save it for when you can’t find any natural light.

Manually adjust exposure and focus

Many smartphone cameras feature a tap to focus setting and a way to adjust the exposure (controlling how much light the sensor lets in). Both methods can help with lighting your subjects correctly.

On an iPhone, for example, you can long press on the focal point to lock the focus and exposure.

Use the time lapse setting

Most high-end smartphones now have a time lapse setting, which lets you condense several minutes or even hours of footage in to a much shorter clip. This can be a great way to capture interesting road trips, tidal scenes or sunrises and sunsets. Here it’s important to lock the exposure (as we explained above) to make sure the lighting stays consistent.

Protect yourself from the elements

If it’s possible you should use your body to shield your phone from the wind, because it’ll ruin the audio. Position yourself in a way that stops the breeze getting to your phone’s microphone at the bottom of the handset.

Practical tips for your smartphone

Shoot at lower quality

4K and Ultra HD video are becoming more common on our phones. Which is great, but the resulting clips take up much more space on your phone. You can save space by shooting at lower quality.

Don’t eat up all your data

Upload large video files over wi-fi so you don’t use up all your mobile data allowance.

Trim your footage

Most phone cameras offer the ability to whip off the awkward start and end of clips, giving the video a more professional feel.

Use an editing app

You can use a specialised editing app to pull more than one clip together. Many will also let you add fades and transitions as well as a soundtrack. Try Apple’s own iMovie for iOS and KineMaster for Android.

Bring a spare battery

Shooting video does as much to drain battery life as any activity, so come prepared. If your phone has a removable battery, bring a spare. Otherwise, think about investing in a portable battery pack.

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29Dec/17

Apple bows to mounting pressure, offers $29 battery replacements to regain trust

A week after it was first revealed Apple was slowing down older iPhones, ostensibly to stabilize performance, the company has succumbed to mounting pressure and, as an apparent gesture of goodwill, is offering owners of an iPhone 6 and later models a battery replacement for $29 — a limited-time $50 discount.

You are likely familiar with the rumor that Apple throttles older iPhones in an effort to make users resort to buying new devices. Of course, Apple maintains that’s not the case and it offered a statement regarding why iPhones may struggle as they get older.

Apple confirmed it slowed down older iPhones in an effort to better handle the power output that aging batteries can offer. Some users were upset. So much, in fact, that several lawsuits have been filed against the company.

“Defendant breached the implied contracts it made with Plaintiffs and Class Members by purposefully slowing down older iPhone models when new models come out and by failing to properly disclose that at the time the parties entered into an agreement,” reads a lawsuit filed by Wilshire Law Firm on behalf of Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas. The pair are seeking both California and nationwide class action status for their suit, according to a report from TMZ.

Apple Insider has reported that attorneys on behalf of Keaton Harvey have filed another suit against Apple. The class-action suit alleges that the company’s decision to slow down old iPhones “allowed Apple to conceal the true nature and scope of the battery defect and to avoid expending time, money, and effort on correcting it.”

The suit requests that Apple notify owners about changes to the OS, repair the flaws in the software that led to the throttling, and reimburse those who bought affected iPhones.

In light of the suits, on Thursday, December 28, Apple released an apology for the confusion surrounding battery and performance issues. In its apology, the company stated “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”

Apple also promised to release a software update in 2018 that will allow users to better monitor battery performance and health on their devices. Additionally, it stated it will reduce the price of battery replacement on all iPhone 6 phones and later to $29 for the next year.

Recent throttling accusations first appeared a couple of weeks ago, when a Redditor shared Geekbench results take right before and right after the battery in an iPhone 6S was replaced. According to the Redditor, who goes by the name TeckFire, the iPhone performed as much as 20 percent better after the battery replacement.

After the Reddit post, John Poole, who founded Primate Labs, offered a more visualized look at the link between battery health and iPhone performance. Benchmarking tests were performed on iOS 10.2.0 and 10.2.1, and show some pretty serious differences in performance. Apple introduced an update in iOS 10.2.1 aimed at fixing an issue where some iPhone 6S models shut down, thanks to uneven power delivery from older batteries in the phones. That power management feature is what was causing the performance dips on some iPhone models.

According to Apple, there is a good reason for the performance dip.

“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge, or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch.

In other words, when an iPhone’s battery gets older, it becomes less capable of delivering enough power to the processor during a peak of performance, and when that happens it has to spread out the power requests over a few processor cycles. The result of that is a dip in performance.

That’s what is triggered when benchmarks are run — they look like performance peaks and valleys to an operating system, and as such on older batteries the power requests will be spread out. Upgrade to a new battery, and power will be delivered much more effectively.

It’s not all that surprising. As a battery ages, it stops working as well. That has always been the case and likely always will be. That doesn’t mean that the average performance of a device is being affected, nor does it mean that Apple is throttling your phone to make you upgrade. OF course, Apple could have been a little more transparent — a simple notification telling users that their battery is getting old and that they may see a performance dip because of it would go a long way. That lack of notification may be a serious point of contention when and if the new lawsuit ever gains ground.

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28Dec/17

Earphones Vs. Earbuds?

What’s the Difference Between These In-ear Audio Devices?

Although companies like to stretch these definitions to fit their marketing needs, the difference between earphones and earbuds essentially boils down to this: earphones (also called in-ear headphones or in-ears) are inserted into the ear canal, while earbuds rest outside the ear canal.

Earbuds

Earbuds usually do not have cushions, although they can. They are meant to be held in place by the concha ridge at the center of your outer ear, rather than sitting inside the ear canal.

They are often one-size-fits-all, which may not be comfortable to wear. Depending on the shape of your ear ridges, they may not fit securely and may fall out frequently. That is annoying, especially if you are wearing them for sports and exercise. Some have wings or loops to tuck under the ridges of the ear to help keep them in place.

Earbuds allow in ambient noise so you can hear what is going on around you. You don’t feel sealed off from your environment. That provides a small measure of safety for outdoor exercise such as running or walking while wearing earbuds.

Earbuds have generally not had the same performance as high-end headphones, often lacking bass and sounding tinny. If you’re buying ear buds, the good news is they are often less expensive than earphones and in-ear headphones. If you want something for the gym that you don’t care if you step on them on the treadmill, or if you need the thirty-umpth pair for your teenager, ear buds are your friends.

Earphones – In-ears – In-ear Headphones

In-ears often feature different sizes and types of ear cushions to achieve the most comfortable fit possible. Examples of cushions include memory foam, rubber, and silicone. Some are shaped to lock into the concha and have a protrusion that extends further into the ear canal.

As with earbuds, you may find that they fall out if the fit is not snug enough, and they may not be comfortable if the fit is too tight. The kind that is designed to lock into your concha may be more secure, but you may also be trading off some comfort. Some high-end earphones are custom fitted to your ear with an ear mold done by an audiologist.

The wires may extend straight down, or they may be designed to go up and over the ear, or swivel for either configuration.

Don’t let their small sizes fool you — earphones can get into the extremely high end of the price and performance spectrum.

Wireless Earbuds and Earphones

Wireless versions of earbuds and in-ears often have a larger earpiece to accommodate the Bluetooth mechanism and controls, or have them on a thicker behind-the-neck cord. This adds additional bulk and weight. Another factor with wireless audio devices is that they are powered and need to be recharged after a few hours of use. With the iPhone 7 eliminating the audio jack port, many more designs will enter the marketplace for wireless earbuds and in-ears.

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