A network needs only one router to function. That said, when you replace your old Wi-Fi router with a better faster one, you can spend time trying to convince someone to take a five-year old router off your hands, or you can turn it into an external Access Point (AP). Placing this DYI AP at the far end of your home and connecting it to the new router (via a long network cable) is the best way to blanket your home with Wi-Fi. And this guide will show you exactly how to do it.
Your home Wi-Fi router has an embedded AP (or even two or three embedded APs in the case of a dual-band or tri-band router) in addition to its function as a basic router. APs broadcast Wi-Fi signals that wireless clients like smartphones, tablets, etc. can connect to.
For the purposes of this guide, let’s refer to the new router that hosts your home network as Router A. The old and busted one you’ll be converting into an AP is Router B. The objective here is to make Router B function as an external AP for Router A.
Many routers in the last few years can work in Access Point mode which can be turned on using the interface.
Note: Some Wi-Fi routers feature an Access Point mode (you’ll see that in its features list if it does). If that’s the case for your Router B, you can just turn this mode on and it will start working as an AP. This guide is only necessary for Wi-Fi routers that do not have this feature (or if you don’t know how to turn the feature on) and is only appropriate for routers that have a web interface, which luckily is the case for most routers on the market.
General direction (for networking experts)
If you’re comfortable with configuring routers and networking in general, what follows is the general direction you’ll want to take. If you’re new to networking, I’d recommend first reading this post about setting up a home router first. When you’re done, follow the “Detailed steps” below.
1. Cover Router B’s WAN (Internet) port with a piece of tape. You’ll want to avoid using the port as doing so would prevent you from converting the router into an AP.
2. Find out what router A’s range of IP addresses is. For example, if Router A’s IP adress is 192.168.1.1 then we can safely assume its IP pool ranges from 192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.254.
3. Manually set Router B’s IP address to an unused IP within Router A’s IP range. For example, you can make it 192.168.1.2. Just make sure you haven’t and will not manually use this IP for any other device.
4. Turn off Router B’s DHCP function.
And you’re done. Now if you connect Router B (which is no longer a router) to Router A using a network cable (from LAN port to LAN port), it will function as an Access Point giving you better Wi-Fi range for your devices.
Detailed steps (for the beginners)
Step 1: Ignore Router B’s WAN (Internet) port.
If your router doesn’t feature a native AP mode, then you’ll want to avoid using its WAN port at all. Using the WAN will make the router automatically function like a router because that’s the intended role of the device: a router connects to the Internet and shares that connection with the rest of the network it hosts. That will no longer be the function of Router B in our project. Leave this port alone or cover it with a piece of tape to avoid using it by accident.
(Note that for routers that feature a native AP mode, you will actually make use of the WAN port. When in AP mode it will function as a LAN port, allowing you to — and in this specific case only — use port to add another wired device to the network).
It’s easy to find out what the IP address of a network’s router.
Step 2: Find out what Router A’s range of IP addresses is.
This is a two-part step. First you’ll need to find out Router A’s IP address. Connect a computer to Router A via Wi-Fi or with a network cable through one of its LAN ports.
If it’s a Windows computer:
Run the command prompt (you can search for cmd in the Start Menu, in Windows 10 or in Windows 8 just type cmd when you’re at the Metro Start menu, then press Enter).
At the Command Prompt window, type ipconfig then press Enter. You will see a lot of possibly confusing numbers and words, but the IP address located to the right of “Default Gateway:” is the address of the router. That’s the number you want.
Or on a Mac:
Head to System Preferences > Network > select the current connected connection (you should see a green dot signifying the connection is working)> click on Advanced > on the TCP/IP tab, look for “Router:”. The router’s IP address will be shown next to it.
Once you have the router’s IP address (which always consists of four groups of numbers separated by a dot in between each group) use it to determine its IP range. The range of numbers you’ll be able to select from will use the same numbers for the first three groups with the last group ranging from 1 to 254. The router’s current IP address will not be available to use.
For example, if the router IP address is 192.168.1.1 then the IP pool of addresses will range from 192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.254. If the router’s IP is 192.168.1.254 then the IP range will be 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.253. When a device is connected to Router A and has an IP address within its IP range, it will be accepted as part of the network. It would take a whole separate video and an entire other article to explain why it works this way, but just trust that it does.
For this guide, we’ll assume 192.168.1.1 is Router A’s IP. This will also likely be your case because many home routers (from Netgear, Asus, D-Link etc.) tend to use this IP address by default.
Step 3: Set router B’s IP address as an unused IP within the IP range of router A (don’t worry, we’ll explain below what that means).
Connect a computer to Router B via Wi-Fi or with a network cable through one of its LAN ports to find out what the router’s current IP is (repeat the first part of step 2 above to do this).
Log into the router’s web interface by pointing a browser to its IP address. Within the interface, navigate to the section where you can change its default IP address. Depending on the router, this section tends to be called Network, LAN or Setup. Change this IP address to one of those in the IP pool determined in the second part of step 2 above. For example, if Router A’s IP is 192.168.1.1, you can make the IP of Router B 192.168.1.2 (make sure that you haven’t manually assigned this IP to any other device, and if you have, choose a different IP address instead) then save the changes. Router B will now likely restart to apply the changes, which will take a minute or two to complete.
Turning off the DHCP Server function of the old router and assigning and unused IP of the main router it will make force it to work as an access point when its WAN port is not used.
Step 4: Turn off Router B’s DHCP Server function.
Log into Router B’s interface again by pointing a browser to its new IP address you manually set in step 3 (in our case, it was 192.168.1.2) then again navigate to its LAN or Network setup section. Here, disable its DHCP server function. This is one of a main functions of a router that leases out IP addresses and right now you don’t want it to do that, so make certain it’s off. Save the changes and you’re done.
(Depending on the interface, some routers allow you to do step 3 and 4 as one step without restarting).
Now Router B, when connected to Router A using a network cable, will work as a both a switch (allowing you to use its LAN port to add wired devices to the network) and an access point. You can always login to either router’s interface using their IP address — 192.168.1.1 (Router A) or 192.168.1.2 (Router B) in this guide’s case — to change their settings or customize their Wi-Fi networks.
If you don’t change any settings, Router B (now working as an AP) will still be named whatever you called it when you were using it as a router. You can change its name to be the same as that of Router A’s if you want devices to connect to either one automatically, or keep the names separate if you want to be certain if you’re connected to Router A or Router B. Either way, all devices connected to either router will be part of the same network.
As I said before, this is a great way to make use of an old router and to blanket your home with a Wi-Fi signal. Good luck and have fun!
The Good The Samsung KS8000 has a good picture for bright rooms, accurate color and superb video processing. Samsung incorporates unique devices and smart home control features, tied together with a simple remote and interface. The design is sleek and minimalist.
The Bad It’s more expensive than some TVs that perform better. It also lacks analog video inputs.
The Bottom Line A bright image and plenty of smart extras will help the Samsung KS8000 gain some followers, but its picture falls short of the competition.
For the last couple of years Samsung, the world’s number one TV maker, has used “SUHD” to induce you to pay more for its high-end TVs. The S doesn’t stand for any particular word, according to the company, but the UHD is an abbreviation for Ultra High Definition, aka 4K.
The KS8000 series reviewed here is currently Samsung’s least-expensive SUHD TV for 2016, promising improved picture quality over the company’s cheaper 4K TVs. In our tests its image was impressive in some ways, but not up to the overall level of some competitors from Sony and Vizio. The S doesn’t mean “superior” picture quality, at least with this TV.
The S could stand for “smarter” though. The KS8000, along with many 2016 Samsung TVs, has the ability to control your devices with its included remote, and can recognize many just by plugging them in. It can also control SmartThings Smart Home gear, like lights and thermostats. And of course it delivers streaming video from the usual sources like Amazon and Netflix, with a new simpler interface.
For most buyers, however, those extras aren’t the highest priority. The KS8000 is an appealing, capable television with plenty of features and great style, but people who prize picture quality can do better for the price.
Samsung UNKS8000 series (pictures)
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Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 65-inch Samsung UN65KS8000, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
Samsung also makes a few closely related models. The KS8500 series is basically the same as this TV but with a curved screen. The step-up KS9000/KS9500 series add a few more picture-affecting features, that may provide some improvement, but we doubt they’ll be significantly better than the KS8000 in picture quality. See Features below for more details.
Device control: Easy setup, but needs more support
Samsung’s new control system comes closer to emulating a good universal remote than any TV we’ve seen. The biggest advantage is ease of setup: Simply plugging in a device during initial TV setup is often enough to get the TV to recognize it and completely set up control using Samsung’s TV remote. This unique auto setup ability worked for a little over half the ones I tried. That’s not bad, but it’s hardly “universal.”
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For supported cable boxes, control is particularly impressive and allows you to ditch your cable company clicker for most commands. My Fios box was automatically integrated into the TV’s Home menu bar complete with its own Fios icon. The TV’s on-screen display let me select the box’s own guide (also accessible by pressing the remote’s “channel” button), its DVR recordings or its main menu, all easily navigable using Samsung’s TV remote.
The TV remote can also pause and fast-forward through commercials, although it relied on a pop-up menu instead of dedicated buttons, and the all-important forward-skip isn’t available — just fast-forward. You can also set up favorite channels on the Home menu that tune your cable box, and direct-dial channel numbers using another (tedious) pop-up.
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Other devices, when they’re detected and controllable, work well too, but many I tried are left in the cold, either not detected at all or unable to be controlled via the remote. Here’s the results for all 16 devices I tested for this review.
Other downsides? You’ll need to plug your stuff directly into the TV, so if your setup incorporates an AV receiver it won’t work. The system mostly relies on infrared commands sent from Samsung’s remote, so you’ll need line-of-sight to control most devices (if your stuff is hidden in a cabinet, it won’t work).
In the end I’d stick with my Harmony, but people with simpler systems that use supported devices might be fine using just Samsung’s remote to control everything.
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Simplified remote, sleek TV design
Although it’s missing the cool motion control found on past Samsung clickers, the new remote’s design is very good. It’s small enough to fit anyone’s hand, yet feels substantial. Bumps, depressions and logical placement make finding keys by feel with a thumb as easy as on any clicker I’ve ever used. I’m an especially big fan of the raised flanges for volume and channel.
With a remote designed for universal control, however, I would have appreciated backlighting, as well as a few more keys–in particular dedicated fast-forward, rewind and skip keys.
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Samsung’s overall TV design is superb, as usual. The set is mostly black when seen from the front, including a very thin border on the top and sides of the screen. The bottom is thicker and silver, and matches the detachable stand legs. I love that you can choose two different positions for the legs — splayed far to the sides or closer to the center — depending on your furniture or personal preference.
Smart TV: So-so app support, slick integration
With an all-new design yet again, Samsung’s homegrown Tizen-based smart TV system is very good for a TV, but app coverage isn’t as comprehensive as Android TV (on Sony sets) or Roku TV. If your streaming tastes go beyond the basic apps, you will probably still need to connect an external device like a Roku or Apple TV.
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4K streaming with HDR is available from Netflix and Amazon. There’s a Vudu app (as of press time it hadn’t been updated to support 4K or HDR), an UltraFlix app with some niche 4K content and, of course, 4K support on the YouTube app.
Other apps are hit or miss. You get Hulu, Plex, both HBOs (Go and Now), Pluto TV, MLB TV and Pandora, for example, but Samsung’s system is still missing Showtime (or Anytime), Sling TV, Watch ESPN, CBS All Access, PBS, PBS Kids, Google Play Movies and TV and Spotify. Roku and Android TV have all of those, and many more niche apps than Samsung.
Samsung incorporates content more seamlessly than other TVs, though. Click the Home button and you’ll be able to browse content from within apps like Netflix and Hulu while your current video keeps playing in the background. The menu even serves suggestions and, on some apps, lets you resume stuff you were watching previously.
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Search is another strong suit and, like Roku, it incorporates results from Netflix and Amazon, complete with pricing. It also ostensibly supports your cable service, although that feature didn’t seem to work well in my tests. Searches for “baseball” and “evening news” came up blank, for example. At least voice recognition was decent.
Overall, Samsung’s new menu design makes finding content from apps, other devices and even your cable box easier than other TV systems, but most people will end up using their external device menus anyway.
Key TV Features
|Edge-lit with local dimming|
The main image quality feature separating Samsung “SUHD” TVs from regular LED LCD TVs is Quantum Dots, which consist of microscopic nanocrystals that glow at a specific wavelength (or color) when given energy. Used as an additional layer in the traditional LED LCD TV sandwich, they enable the TV to achieve improved light output and color compared to other TVs and to the company’s 2015 sets, according to Samsung. According to our tests those claims have merit, but it’s also worth remembering that despite all those fancy marketing terms, at heart these are LED LCD TVs, not a different display technology like OLED.
The KS8000 has an edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming, and unlike Vizio, Samsung doesn’t disclose the number of dimming zones. It does say that the “Supreme UHD Dimming” found on step-up models like the KS9000 and KS9500 denotes even more zones, although we doubt that will deliver a big improvement in image quality. The same goes for the “Auto Depth Enhancer,” a processing feature on Samsung’s curved TVs like the KS9500 and KS8500.
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The set supports HDR (high dynamic range) content in HDR10 format only. It lacks the Dolby Vision HDR support found on Vizio’s and LG’s 2016 HDR TVs. It’s still too early to determine whether one HDR format is “better” than the other, and I definitely don’t consider lack of Dolby Vision a deal breaker on this TV–instead it’s just one more factor to consider. Check out my article on the HDR format war for more.
Like most other 4K TVs the KS8000 uses a 120Hz native panel. It offers Samsung’s Motion Rate 240 processing with black frame insertion to improve motion resolution. According to Samsung, the Supreme MR 240 feature on step-up models like the KS9000 analyses scenes before performing the insertion, which might deliver a slight improvement over the KS8000, but again we don’t expect it to be drastically better.
Unlike high-end TVs from LG and Sony this year, the KS8000 does not support 3D. Samsung has yet to make any announcements about support for its novel evolution kit upgrades, either for 2015 sets or for future upgrade kit support for its 2016 models.
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- 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
- 3x USB ports (2x version 2.0, 1x version 3.0)
- Ethernet (LAN) port
- Optical digital audio output
- Stereo audio output (minijack)
- RF (antenna) input
- Remote (RS-232) port (EX-LINK)
This list is mostly solid, unless you happen to own a legacy device that requires analog video (component or composite) or audio. The KS8000 is the first TV I’ve seen that doesn’t at least offer one analog input (audio or video).
The Good Switchmate units cost just $40 each, they couldn’t be simpler to install, and the related Android/iPhone app is very intuitive.
The Bad Amazon Alexa integration is forthcoming, but Switchmate doesn’t currently work with any third-party smart home products/platforms. Remote access is limited to Bluetooth range, the switches are loud, and they’re too big for side-by-side installs on 2-gang+ switch plates.
The Bottom Line Switchmate’s no-fuss installation is intriguing, but some significant limitations hold it back from greatness.
Pre-Order at myswitchmate.com
It’s a snap: This magnetic light switch installs…
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Switchmate is a $40 AA-battery-powered magnetic light controller that clings to the screws holding up your existing switch plate. Snap it on and you’re done with the installation. The sheer simplicity of setup is intriguing — who wants to deal with a big mess o’ wires when you can just enlist magnets to do the heavy lifting?
But because it isn’t hard-wired, Switchmate relies on batteries. And because it relies on batteries, it uses low-power Bluetooth tech rather than Wi-Fi. That means you can only control your lights from the related Android or iPhone app when you’re standing within a limited range of roughly 150 feet.
Switchmate also doesn’t work with dimmers or have any third-party integrations (although an Amazon Alexa skill is in the works). If circuit breakers and electrical wiring aren’t your cup of tea, the easy-breezy Switchmate would serve you well — just keep in mind that it can’t actually do a whole lot.
Up close with Switchmate
Switchmate measures 4.9 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide, with a 1-inch depth. It weighs 4 ounces and is powered by two included AA batteries that the team claims can last anywhere from 8 to 12 months (I wasn’t able to test this out, but I imagine it would vary a lot based on usage). It looks fine, but it’s quite bulky compared to a standard switch plate.
Switchmate started out as an Indiegogo campaign with a couple of different color finishes, but the final version, available on Amazon, comes in white or beige for either toggle or rocker switches (these are sold separately, as the adapter on the back is different). Configuration is as simple as inserting the batteries, picking out a light switch to control and snapping it on. Fortunately, the magnets are strong and I can’t see someone dislodging it easily by accident.
Note: Switchmate is only compatible with 1-gang switches. It can attach to multi-gang plates, but Switchmates are too wide to fit side-by-side. I really wish the team offered 2-, 3- and 4-gang options, since standalone 1-gang switches aren’t incredibly common (in my house, at least) and it looks a little odd as a standalone 1-gang controller on a multi-gang panel.
Once you’ve attached Switchmate, download the Switchmate app and follow the steps to use your light switch — it should only take a minute or so to connect. There wasn’t a plus/minus battery indicator on my review units, so I installed the batteries upside down the first time — if you’re having trouble connecting, you might need to rotate your batteries, too.
The app itself is extremely bare bones, but simple to use. You can have up to 12 Switchmates installed on one account — and the home screen displays all of the controllers you’ve installed. I tested two units, one toggle model and one rocker model, labeled Hallway and Living Room.
Hasbro’s Furby, that weird, warbling piece of toy nostalgia that just won’t die, continues on in 2016. This year, however, Furby wants to stay connected via Bluetooth, receiving new information. It might know what time it is, or what the World Series scores are. Furby. Will. Know.
That’s the pitch for Furby Connect, a toy that might seem all-sentient but isn’t really. The new Furby uses Bluetooth to receive occasional updates when paired to iOS, Android or Amazon Fire devices via Hasbro Furby Connect app. Furby might suddenly become obsessed with a real song via lyrics supplied by a partnership with Kidz Bop, or some other weird thing. It might potentially get sports scores or news pushed to it. It might wish you happy Thanksgiving.
Furby’s new antenna…thing.
But nothing immediately on-demand, and nothing location-based. Amazon Echo with fur, this is not. Furby is strictly getting once-in-a-while push updates via Hasbro’s app, and to protect kid privacy none of it has location awareness.
Unfortunately, that means Furby might not seem that much smarter than his totally unconnected ancestors at times. In a landscape filled with seemingly far smarter robot super-toys like the Anki Cozmo and Hello Barbie, can little Furby keep up? Furby can at least get info downloaded in a burst so it can be played away from any app for a week. It’s not meant to be always-on, just to feel like it is.
Furby making some mysterious greenish spray over the toilet. Yes, it goes potty.
We haven’t used one with the app beyond a brief demo, which was cute but very similar to Furbies of the past. If another Furby Connect is placed nearby, however, the two now do more in-sync dancing, bickering, and Furby-wiggling. It’s one stop short of a “Gremlins” reboot.
Furby and Furby seem like they’re secretly planning something.
A few new tricks are on-board, too: its eyes are now full-color screens, and a glowing antenna on its head turns blue when it gets an update, and other hues for emotions. (Down the road, Hasbro mentioned it could even turn into a joystick for in-app games, if you’re comfortable with that.) Furby is, as always, packed with motion sensors, motors, and has a microphone and speaker (in case you didn’t know).
Furby, go to sleep now.
Best of all, Furby will go to sleep on command for the first time ever. An included sleep mask plugs into its eyes and makes it turn off, complete with gentle bedtime gurgles. Then it’s safe to toss in your kid’s bed or a drawer, where it shouldn’t make any noise — unlike older Furby models, which required a battery removal to shut them up. Until you remove the mask. Hasbro has hinted that the sleep-mask port near Furby Connect’s eyes could be used for “other surprises” down the road. What are those surprises? Much like Furby, that remains a mystery.
It’s available right now exclusively via Amazon for $100, and will hit other stores this fall.
Finally, the Galaxy S7 you want is available in the U.S.
Rather than dealing with the sub-optimal experience of buying from a carrier directly — living with a deplorable amount of bloatware, slow software updates and all sorts of “gotcha” moments — you can now just go to one of several retailers and buy an honest-to-goodness unlocked Galaxy S7 or S7 edge. It’s exactly what we’ve been asking for year after year — just sell us the phone directly, and relegate the carriers to just offering service.
Now Samsung could have done the bare minimum here just to say it has unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge available in the U.S. — it certainly did so with the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S6. But I’m happy to heap praise on Samsung for going the extra mile this year. These aren’t just un-branded versions of a previous model, or European phones with a new charger in the box — the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are equipped specifically to work best in the U.S., and that means full support for all four major carriers — yes, including Verizon and Sprint.
Yes, this is exactly what we’ve all been asking for. Well, almost. The only issue? How long it took to be released.
The phone we want. The phone we deserve … to have sooner.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful development for anyone who wants to buy an unlocked phone — there’s yet another direct-from-manufacturer option in the U.S. But I still wish Samsung could make this happen right alongside the carrier launch. We’re now almost four months removed from the initial U.S. carrier availability of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge — and while I’m not naive enough to think that all Galaxy S7s that will ever be sold are already in consumers’ hands, these people deserved the option to buy unlocked.
There are surely tens of thousands of people in the U.S. who have yet to buy a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge today that have held out for a proper U.S. unlocked model, and today is like a holiday for them — they finally have the phone they wanted. Next time around, we can only hope they don’t have to wait around as they want their friends, family and coworkers break down and buy from a carrier.
Let’s see what happens with the Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
- Galaxy S7 review
- Galaxy S7 edge review
- Galaxy S7 unlocked model
- Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
- Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
- Learn about the Galaxy S7’s SD card slot
- Join our Galaxy S7 forums
Square Enix has launched Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius in the U.S. and worldwide, following its release in Japan earlier this year. This free-to-play turn-based game is one of the rare ones in the long running franchise to be created specifically for mobile devices.
Here’s a quick summary of the game’s storyline:
Adventurers begin their quest for a highly-coveted crystal, shortly meeting two knights from Grandshelt, and a young girl. With special appearances by classic FINAL FANTASY characters like Cecil, Vivi and Terra, players adventure through fields and dungeons discovering items, collecting gil, uncovering hidden paths, and unlocking high-quality CG-animated summons.
The worldwide version will sport some improvements compared to the first Japanese release:
- New items and daily quests
- High-definition graphic support for tablet devices
- Achievements and Leaderboards
- Game balance refinements based on the Japanese version
- Facebook Login Integration
You can get Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius right now at the Google Play Store
Rebooting your watch is as as simple as a few swipes.
You’ve got your awesome Android Wear watch, and you’ve already loaded it with an awesome watch faces and apps. But like any computer (yep, you’re wearing a computer on your wrist — welcome to the future!) you may need to reboot from time to time. And if that’s the case, we’ve got you covered.
The first thing you’ll want to do is swipe down from the top of your screen. This should open up a screen that shows your notification settings. Initially you’ll also see icons for your battery percentage, and wi-fi connectivity. Swipe to the left twice, and you’ll see a gear on the screen that says settings.
Tap on the gear to open up your settings menu. You can also open the settings menu by long pressing the button on the side of your watch, and then choosing “settings” from the menu.
Scroll down to the bottom of the list of settings, and you should see an icon reading “restart”. It should be third from the bottom, settled between “unpair with phone” and “power off”.
Tap the restart icon. When you do this, a dialogue will pop up asking if you really want to restart your Android Wear watch. Tap on the check mark for yes. That’s it, that’s all you have to do to restart your watch.
In the event that your watch completely stops responding, there are certain button combinations you can press to force a restart. These vary from watch to watch, but usually involve long-pressing your watch’s crown key for several seconds, or pressing a recessed reset button on the back. To check the correct button combo for your wearable, consult your watch’s manual.
It’s a little more complicated than restarting a phone or a computer, but it’s easy enough once you get to grips with it. Do you have more questions about restarting your watch? Pop into the comments and let us know.
You should use two-factor authentication on every account that offers it. Here’s an explainer of what it is, and why you want it.
You see a lot of talk on the internet about two-factor authentication (or 2FA as it’s commonly called) but most times its just people like us telling you to use it. And we’ll continue that trend and start this bit of prose by telling you to use 2FA whenever and wherever you can. But we’re also going to let you know what it is, and why it’s important that you use it. Read on.
What is two-factor authentication?
To put it in simple terms, 2FA means that you need to present two different things from two different sources that prove who you are. Generally, there are three different types of ID that can be used for 2FA purposes when it comes to online accounts:
- A thing that only you should know. Things like a password, a PIN, an account number, your street address or even the last four digits of your Social Security number fit the bill here.
- A thing that you can hold in your hands. This means your phone, an authenticator fob like this one or a USB security key.
- A thing that is part of you like your fingerprint, retina pattern or voice pattern.
When you have 2FA enabled on an account, you need two of these three things to get access.
You’ve been using 2FA for most of your adult life. The companies who process credit card payments for online retailers usually force you to enter the three-digit code on the back of your credit card as well as the card number, then provide the billing address. The numbers on the card (both front and back) are a way to make sure you have the card in your possession for the first method of authentication, then the address you provide has to match what the card issuer has on file as a second way to prove who you are. That’s 2FA. Back when the world still used checks to pay for things, most businesses wanted two forms of physical ID from a well-recognized place like your state DMV or your school as a way to make sure you are the person whose name is on the top of the check. That’s also 2FA. And to get those IDs usually requires multiple things from different places to prove who you are.
You’ve been using 2FA all along and probably didn’t realize it.
Using 2FA for your online accounts is a little bit different, but still uses the same principle — if you can provide more than one method to prove who you are, you probably really are who you claim to be. For an account somewhere like Google, or Facebook or Amazon you need to supply a password. Your password is something only you should know, but sometimes other people can get hold of it. When you add a 2FA requirement — like an authentication token sent to your phone or a USB security key that you plug into your computer — a password is no longer enough to get into your account. Without both pieces of authentication, you’re locked out.
Is two-factor authentication secure?
Yes and no. Using 2FA on an account is a lot more secure than not using it, but nothing is really secure. That scary thought aside, using 2FA is usually sufficient protection for your “stuff” unless you’re a high-profile target or really unlucky.
Using 2FA is usually sufficient protection for your onlione accounts and services.
On the positive side, if you’re using 2FA and some fake phishing email manages to get you to supply your password they still can’t log into your account. The way most people use 2FA for online accounts is to have a token sent to an app on their phone and without that token, the email scammer isn’t going to have any luck getting access. They will enter your account user name or ID, then the password, and then they need to supply that token to go any further. Unless they have your phone, the work involved in bypassing the second ID requirement is enough to get the bad guy to say “forget it!” and move to someone else.
On the other hand, if you are someone like President Obama or Mick Jagger, it’s worth it to try and get into your accounts. And there are ways. The communication between the people supplying the authentication token and your phone are safe for the most part, so attackers go after the website or server asking for the credentials. Auth tokens and cookies can be hijacked by very clever folks, and as soon as one method gets patched they start looking for another. This takes a lot of knowledge and hard work so that means that the end result has to be worth it all. Chances are you and I aren’t worth the trouble, so 2FA is a good way to secure our accounts.
How do I use two-factor authentication?
It’s easier than you might think!
Setting up 2FA on an account is a three step process. You need to provide your current credentials by typing in your password again (this helps keep someone else from adding it to your account), even if you’re currently logged into the service. Then you go into the account settings and enable 2FA on your account. This lets the server that manages your login know that you want to enable it, and they will get everything ready on their end after they ask what type of authentication you will be using — most common are codes sent to your phone as an SMS message or through an authenticator application. Finally, you affirm the change by supplying a token back to the server. If you’re using an app this might be a barcode you have to scan or manually entering some information into the app. If you chose to use SMS a code will be sent that you need to enter on the website to finish things up.
The next step happens when you want to log into that account again. You’ll enter a username or ID, then a password, and then be asked to supply an authentication number. That number is sent as an SMS if that’s how you set things up, or in the app on your phone if you decided to go that route. You type that number into the text field and you have access.
Most services will store an authentication token on your phone or computer, so the next time you want to log in you won’t have to supply the code again. But if you want to set up access from another place, you’ll need a code.
Read more: How to set up 2FA on your Google account
The process for each service that offers 2FA will be slightly different, but this is a good example of how things will work.
Wrapping it up
If you decide to use an app to provide 2FA tokens on your phone (which is an excellent choice) we recommend Authy. The app looks good and doesn’t slow your phone down, but the most important feature is that you can use the app on more than one phone (or tablet, or computer) at a time. While this does mean that your 2FA token is sitting in Authy’s server for a second or two (having a third-party access your 2FA tokens is not the greatest idea) the ease of use factor outweighs the disadvantages for us. Of course, you can also use Google’s authenticator app or another app. Or even SMS. Authy is just how we do it.
Now that you know a little more about 2FA, we hope you’re inspired to set it up and use it wherever you can. Most popular services — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Steam and more — offer 2FA. It’s fairly easy to set up and the peace of mind you’ll have makes it well worth it.
AT&T has officially started its new rewards program by offering all of its post-paid wirelss customers a free movie ticket if they buy one for a Tuesday showing at an AMC or Regal movie theater.
Via (the Ticket Tuesdays page) the customer will simply validate their mobile number and will then be directed to movietickets.com where a coupon code for their free ticket will automatically be applied at checkout when they buy one full price ticket. The free tickets are available to qualifying customers, one per account, once a week during the length of the AT&T THANKS program—while supplies last each week. Participating theaters are AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group – the two largest movie theatre chains in the country. That’s nearly 1,000 theaters and 13,000 movie screens.
AT&T also plans to offer pre-sale tickets for select Live Nation concerts later this year as part of the rewards program.
NBC will give owners of the Samsung Gear VR headset free access to 85 hours of virtual reality coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
The Associated Press (via The New York Times) states:
The content, which will be presented on delay during the games running Aug. 6 to Aug. 22, will include opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, and other sports. It will be captured by Olympic Broadcasting Services, a unit of the International Olympic committee that provides feeds to international broadcasters. The content will be accessible to Samsung users with compatible devices via the NBC Sports app.
Gear VR owners will need a paid TV subscription to access the Rio Olympic Games VR footage.