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2
Jul

Samsung’s resurrected Galaxy Note 7 launches on July 7th


If you’ve missed the Galaxy Note 7 ever since it was discontinued over chronic battery fires, you now have a second chance at ownership… if you’re willing to book a flight to Seoul. Samsung has confirmed both recent rumors and its own teaser by announcing a refurbished version of the Note 7, the Galaxy Note Fan Edition, that will launch in South Korea on (appropriately enough) July 7th. As you might guess, it’s largely the same phone hardware-wise — the big difference is the use of safer, smaller-capacity batteries that have passed stricter testing standards. They’ll also include the Bixby assistant software introduced with the Galaxy S8.

Don’t expect to have an easy time finding one. The Galaxy Note FE will sell for about 30 percent less than the original Note 7, at 699,600 won (about $611), but only 400,000 units will be available on its Korean home turf. Sales in other countries will be “decided later,” Samsung says, and it has already ruled out sales in the US. This isn’t a glorious comeback, to put it another way — it’s more about clearing inventory by selling to fans still suffering from withdrawal.

As it stands, the revived phone may be a tough sell if you aren’t a serious Note 7 devotee. Remember, the Note 8 is likely weeks away. Would you want to buy last year’s phone (albeit at a discount) knowing a big upgrade is right around the corner? Still, this is at least a smart use of resources — activists were worried Samsung would create massive amounts of e-waste by tossing Note 7 units aside instead of repurposing them.

Via: Reuters

Source: Samsung Newsroom (translated)

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2
Jul

After Math: It’s how much?


It’s been a huge week for big ticket purchases. LG announced that its 77-inch, ribbon-thin W-series TVs will retail for an eye-gouging $20,000, Germany wants as much as $57 million from Facebook over hate speech, and Huawei debuted a MacBook knockoff that still somehow costs over a grand. Numbers because how else will you know when you’re getting swindled?

2
Jul

Watch favorite games finished quickly in the name of charity


It’s a long July holiday weekend, and that means something big for gamers: it’s the start of Summer Games Done Quick, the second of two annual livestreams for charity. As of 1PM Eastern on July 2nd, you’ll witness a slew of top players rushing through games for nearly a full week to raise donations for Doctors Without Borders. It starts with a one-handed (!) speedrun of the recent hit NieR: Automata, and wraps up the night of July 9th with a glitch-free blitz through the classic title Earthbound.

As always, there will be interesting twists throughout the week to keep things lively. There’s a mix of common speedrunning games and oddball examples (ever seen someone hurry through The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt?) as well as clever stunts. There are relay races through the Super Mario series and Tetris, for instance, as well as whole sections devoted to franchises like Sonic and Mirror’s Edge. And did we mention this is your first chance to watch The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in a GDQ stream? All told, there’s a good chance that you’ll have at least one reason to tune in and contribute.

Source: Games Done Quick

2
Jul

Wring the most out of iOS with the best Siri commands


Artificial intelligence is the future. Companies such as Google and Microsoft are investing a lot of their resources in it. Apple is up against Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana in a battle to win over consumers. Tech companies want you to use and rely on their digital assistants more as time goes on. We once pitted Siri against Cortana and Google Now, and though Apple’s virtual assistant is still far from perfect, it has certainly come a long way. The best Siri commands take advantage of this, and leverage new technology to bolster the convenience of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, not to mention the recently-announced HomePod.

With each new iteration of Siri, there seem to be more and more useful commands. Siri has grown over the years, and it is a big part of Apple’s development. Apple doesn’t have an official list of every Siri command, however, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most useful Siri commands you can use. And if you’re new to iOS, we have a guide on how to use Siri.

Activating Siri

If you can’t talk to Siri, the feature may be turned off. To turn on Siri, go to Settings > Siri and toggle the slider on. Once activated, there are a few ways that you can activate Siri.

  • Press and hold the home button.
  • Go to Settings > Siri and enable Allow “Hey Siri”. Once done, you can activate Siri by saying “Hey Siri” out loud.
  • If you’re using the Earpods, press and hold the center button.
  • If you have an Apple Watch, you can activate Siri by double tapping the button below the crown.

Asking questions and basic things

Calling

  • “Call [name or number].”
  • “Facetime [name or number].”
  • If you want to start a call on speakerphone, you can say “Call [name or number] on speaker.”

Voicemail

  • “Check my voicemail” or “Check voicemails from [name].“

Messages and email

  • “Check my messages” or “Check my email.”
  • “Read my new messages” or “Read my new email.”
  • “Send an email to [name].” Siri will then ask you to provide the subject and message. You can also say the entire command at once like this: “Send an email to [name], about [what you say here will be the subject], and say [what you say here will be the message].”

Currency conversions, calculations, and timers

  • “What is [say the amount and name of currency] into [say the name of the currency].“
  • You can also convert any other measurements. For example: “What are 335 meters into feet?”
  • “What is [number] plus/minus/divided/multiplied by [number],” or for example, “What is the square root of [number].”
  • “Set a timer for [say the amount of time].“
  • “Set an alarm for [time].“
  • To calculate a tip, you can say “What is [percentage] of [number]?”
  • “What is [say the name of the company] stock price?”
  • “What is the weather like today?” or “What is the weather like in [say the country or city].“
  • “What is the time in [say the country or city].“

Controlling your device’s settings

  • “Turn on/off [Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular data, Do Not Disturb, Night Shift, or Airplane Mode].”
  • “Take a picture/selfie.”
  • “Increase/decrease brightness.”
  • When playing music you can say “Turn up/down the volume.”

Setting appointments, alarms, lists, and reminders

  • “Check my meetings.”
  • “Schedule a meeting with [name] [day and time].“
  • “Remind me to [say what to remind you about] [say when you want Siri to remind you].” You can also add a location to your reminder. For example: “Remind me to call John when I get home.”
  • If you need to know what day falls on a certain date, you can ask “What day is August 12th?” Alternatively, you can say “How many days until August 12th?”
  • “Make a list called [name of list].”
  • “Add items to the list [name of list].”

Navigating and travel

  • “Show me the nearest [gas stations/type of restaurants/malls/etc.].“
  • “How do I get to [destination] by [car/foot/bike].“
  • “Take me home.”
  • “What are the traffic conditions” or “What are the traffic conditions near [name location].“
  • “How long until we arrive at [destination].”
  • “Check flight status of [airline and flight number].”
  • “Show me the bus route to [destination].”

Search

  • “Open [name of app].“
  • “Define [word].”
  • “Search the App Store for [name of app or category of apps].”
  • Ask any question and Siri will search the internet. For example: “How do you cook an omelet?”
  • “Find notes/email about [say some keyword related to what you’re searching for].”
  • “Find friends near me” or “Where is [name of friend].”
  • Find photos by saying “Show me photos from [date] or of [name — if you have assigned names in the People album].”
  • “Find/download the [name of artist] podcast.”

Entertainment, sports, and music

  • “Show me the [sports team or game] scores.”
  • “Play music,” or while listening to a song, you can tell Siri to “Pause/Stop/Skip” or “play the next/previous song.”
  • “Play [name of song].” 
  • “Favorite this song”
  • “Play songs from [group].“
  • “What movies are playing near me?” or “What are the movie showtimes for [name of movie/name of cinema].“

Using third-party apps

Go to Settings > Siri > App Support to find out which of your apps currently work with Siri. Lyft, Line, Facebook, Twitter, and many other apps already work with Siri.

You can use commands such as:

  • “Send a [name of messaging app] message to [name of contact].”
  • “Get me a Lyft to [name of destination].”
  • “Post a message to [Facebook/Twitter].”

Fun stuff

Siri is not all business, though. You can have some fun and ask it some more obscure questions, if desired. Ask Siri to “flip a coin” or “roll the dice” and it actually will. There are plenty of funny questions to ask Siri, so try experimenting with Apple’s virtual assistant whenever you’re looking for some levity.




2
Jul

How to sync your Outlook calendar with an iPhone


With the addition of Touch Bar functionality to Outlook, Windows and iOS devices are now more compatible than ever! That’s great news for professionals who need to balance between Microsoft and Apple in their daily workflow, but it also raises a lot of content issues. One of the most common is the problem of juggling different calendars on different platforms. While Outlook will happily update its own calendar automatically based on emails and team data, that doesn’t really help if you tend to pull out an iPhone to create dates or reminders when on the go. If you have an iPhone 7 and a PC, this can be a hassle.

The solution is cross-platform syncing, and yes, it is available for Outlook and iPhones. Here’s what to do!

Note: Some syncing services may be a bit different depending on the version of Outlook or iTunes that you have. Follow the general path and you should still get the same outcome. 

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes

If you have ever connected your iPhone to your current computer before, this step should be largely automatic. In most cases, iTunes will automatically open whenever you physically connect your iPhone.

If you’ve never connected an iPhone to this computer, the process may take a little longer. Make sure you have access to a reliable, speedy Internet connection to make this process easier. iTunes is required for this particular trick, so yes, you will have to download it before you begin — a process Apple has made largely painless.

Step 2: Find the Info section for your iPhone

First, you should go to your Device menu. While the position of this menu tends to vary a little based on the device you are using and the version of iTunes you are working with, it’s usually in the top section of the iTunes menu, located next the drop-down menu you use for picking Music, Apps, Shows and other content. It looks like a tiny iPhone too, which helps when searching for it.

Once you have selected Device, you should enter a different sidebar menu that shows your iPhone above a list of the content stored on it. If you have multiple Apple devices connected to your computer, you’ll need to make sure that you select the right iPhone first. With the right menu activated, look all the way down at the bottom of the Device menu for an option that says “Info.” Select it.

Step 3: Choose to sync calendars

In the Info section, look for Calendars (you can sync other information too, but from a work perspective Calendars is the most useful option). Under the Calendars heading you will find a fill-in option that says “Sync calendars from” with an option to select email clients. Make sure that you select Outlook so that iTunes knows where to pull/push data.

Step 4: Choose the right calendars and apply the changes

You will have an option to sync all calendars, or to choose specific calendars that you want to sync. A simple Outlook setup will probably only have one calendar to worry about, so you can safely choose “All calendars” without worrying. However, if you have multiple calendars or profiles on your Outlook setup, then you should probably check up on Selected calendars to see if there are any calendars you don’t want to sync.

Once you are sure syncing will affect only the calendars you want, choose Apply and wait for the first sync to take place. This one may take a few minutes, but before long the platforms will sort out their differences and you’ll have all the same calendar information on both devices. However, note that some calendar information may be less useful on your iPhone. Links to SharePoint, for example, may not work at your iPhone. We suggest running this sync past an administrator or IT expert in your company if you have any questions about how content will be affected.

Step 5: Get used to connecting your iPhone to your computer

Using cloud services to sync up is tricky when using two different providers with their own proprietary storage — there is some room to exchange Outlook information over iCloud for Windows, but that is heavily limited based on what cloud storage you use and what your company allows. That also means you will have to re-connect your iPhone to your computer every time you want to update your calendars. Syncing will happen automatically after this setup, but you will need the physical connection.

The simplest way to ensure consistent syncing is to set up an iPhone dock that’s always connected to your computer, and get in the habit of using it: This solution works best on professional desktops, but can become a little annoying on laptops. You can also (if allowed) switch to Wi-Fi syncing for your iPhone, although this may be hit-or-miss when it comes to reliability.

Note on issues: Did syncing mess your calendar up? Are you trying to retrieve lost data or fix an error that crept in when you were bouncing between platforms? It happens. But when you call up customer support, make sure you call Apple. Microsoft does not manage this syncing process at all, it is provided by Apple, and they are the ones you need to call if something goes serious wrong.




2
Jul

How to sync your Outlook calendar with an iPhone


With the addition of Touch Bar functionality to Outlook, Windows and iOS devices are now more compatible than ever! That’s great news for professionals who need to balance between Microsoft and Apple in their daily workflow, but it also raises a lot of content issues. One of the most common is the problem of juggling different calendars on different platforms. While Outlook will happily update its own calendar automatically based on emails and team data, that doesn’t really help if you tend to pull out an iPhone to create dates or reminders when on the go. If you have an iPhone 7 and a PC, this can be a hassle.

The solution is cross-platform syncing, and yes, it is available for Outlook and iPhones. Here’s what to do!

Note: Some syncing services may be a bit different depending on the version of Outlook or iTunes that you have. Follow the general path and you should still get the same outcome. 

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes

If you have ever connected your iPhone to your current computer before, this step should be largely automatic. In most cases, iTunes will automatically open whenever you physically connect your iPhone.

If you’ve never connected an iPhone to this computer, the process may take a little longer. Make sure you have access to a reliable, speedy Internet connection to make this process easier. iTunes is required for this particular trick, so yes, you will have to download it before you begin — a process Apple has made largely painless.

Step 2: Find the Info section for your iPhone

First, you should go to your Device menu. While the position of this menu tends to vary a little based on the device you are using and the version of iTunes you are working with, it’s usually in the top section of the iTunes menu, located next the drop-down menu you use for picking Music, Apps, Shows and other content. It looks like a tiny iPhone too, which helps when searching for it.

Once you have selected Device, you should enter a different sidebar menu that shows your iPhone above a list of the content stored on it. If you have multiple Apple devices connected to your computer, you’ll need to make sure that you select the right iPhone first. With the right menu activated, look all the way down at the bottom of the Device menu for an option that says “Info.” Select it.

Step 3: Choose to sync calendars

In the Info section, look for Calendars (you can sync other information too, but from a work perspective Calendars is the most useful option). Under the Calendars heading you will find a fill-in option that says “Sync calendars from” with an option to select email clients. Make sure that you select Outlook so that iTunes knows where to pull/push data.

Step 4: Choose the right calendars and apply the changes

You will have an option to sync all calendars, or to choose specific calendars that you want to sync. A simple Outlook setup will probably only have one calendar to worry about, so you can safely choose “All calendars” without worrying. However, if you have multiple calendars or profiles on your Outlook setup, then you should probably check up on Selected calendars to see if there are any calendars you don’t want to sync.

Once you are sure syncing will affect only the calendars you want, choose Apply and wait for the first sync to take place. This one may take a few minutes, but before long the platforms will sort out their differences and you’ll have all the same calendar information on both devices. However, note that some calendar information may be less useful on your iPhone. Links to SharePoint, for example, may not work at your iPhone. We suggest running this sync past an administrator or IT expert in your company if you have any questions about how content will be affected.

Step 5: Get used to connecting your iPhone to your computer

Using cloud services to sync up is tricky when using two different providers with their own proprietary storage — there is some room to exchange Outlook information over iCloud for Windows, but that is heavily limited based on what cloud storage you use and what your company allows. That also means you will have to re-connect your iPhone to your computer every time you want to update your calendars. Syncing will happen automatically after this setup, but you will need the physical connection.

The simplest way to ensure consistent syncing is to set up an iPhone dock that’s always connected to your computer, and get in the habit of using it: This solution works best on professional desktops, but can become a little annoying on laptops. You can also (if allowed) switch to Wi-Fi syncing for your iPhone, although this may be hit-or-miss when it comes to reliability.

Note on issues: Did syncing mess your calendar up? Are you trying to retrieve lost data or fix an error that crept in when you were bouncing between platforms? It happens. But when you call up customer support, make sure you call Apple. Microsoft does not manage this syncing process at all, it is provided by Apple, and they are the ones you need to call if something goes serious wrong.




2
Jul

8 Important Considerations When Switching To An MVNO


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Before you make the switch you need to think about a few things.

Having good cellular service has become an important thing for most people. We use our phones for everything from keeping in touch to keeping entertained when we have a few quiet moments. It’s pretty great that we have such powerful machines in our pockets and nobody is happy when their service lets them down. That’s why it’s worth taking your time and checking out a few things before you switch carriers.

This can be especially important when switching to a prepaid alternative carrier, also known as an MVNO. Because they aren’t the ones installing new facilities and building out the physical networks they operate on, they sometimes have to do things a little differently. These differences usually mean the service is cheaper every month, but it can also pose a few problems if you haven’t done your homework before you made the switch.

What is an alternative carrier?

That’s what we’re here for! Android phones and the service that powers them is our job and our hobby. We love to get in the mix and try things like switching away from the Big Four as much as we like writing about it. With that in mind, here are some things you need to think about when you’re ready to switch to an MVNO as your new carrier.

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Picking the carrier that works where you need it to

This needs to be the first thing you look at. MVNOs have the luxury of using the networks the Big Four have rolled out, and we all know that not everyone has equal coverage on every carrier.

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One of the best things you can do is talk to people you know and see what service they are using. If you hear a lot of praise for one particular carrier and complaints about another, you have a good starting point when it comes to picking the right MVNO. You can also check out the carrier coverage maps.

  • AT&T’s U.S. coverage map
  • Sprint’s U.S. coverage map
  • T-Mobile’s U.S. coverage map
  • Verizon’s U.S. coverage map

You need to make sure you know what you’re looking at here. Nobody is trying to deceive you but they all want their map to look as good as it can. On each of the coverage map sites, you’ll find some controls to filter the different types of coverage that are being shown. Make sure to have a look and compare the voice calling maps to the data connection maps, and make sure you are filtering to see the high-speed data coverage. And definitely make sure you’re not looking at “partner” or roaming maps, as many MVNO carriers don’t support that part of their parent carrier’s coverage.

Finally, be cautious if you need to use your phone in areas on the fringe or edge of coverage maps. The maps are never exact, and if the map tells you service will degrade just a few blocks from where you need to be covered, you might not get service at all. These maps should be considered as a good estimate rather than any sort of exact science.

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Match your phone with the right network

One of the best parts about using an MVNO is that you can save even more money by using the phone you already paid for. As long as your phone works on at least one of the Big Four carriers in the U.S. there’s an MVNO that offers great service for you.

It’s not that difficult to make sure the MVNO you want to use supports the phone you already have. If you’re up on all the technical jargon you can check the radio bands on your phone against the radio bands listed on every alternative carrier’s website. You’ll usually find these on the FAQ portion and if they match you’re in business.

If you don’t want to get bogged down in frequency numbers and all the different network bands, sites like WillMyPhoneWork can tell you if your phone is compatible with most any network worldwide.

We’ve built a list of popular MVNO carriers and which networks they operate on that can answer many of your questions right away!

How to make sure your phone works on a prepaid alternative carrier

You might need to get your phone unlocked

Most phones will need to be SIM unlocked before they can be used on another carrier. This has nothing to do with your phone’s security (that’s a different type of unlocking) and only lets your phone accept programming for a new network. Carriers have their phones SIM locked as a way to cut down on equipment loss — a locked phone only works on the carrier who locked it, and only as long as you’re making the payments.

SIM unlocking won’t affect your phones security.

In the U.S. carriers are required to unlock a phone once it’s paid for. Most will also unlock a phone after you’ve been a customer for a while as a show of good faith. You can get your phone unlocked by the carrier by making a phone call or going into a store. Customer service will be happy to help you provided you’ve met any obligations they require. Because of some rules for using the frequency Verizon uses for 4G service, they are required to sell all their phones unlocked.

Getting your phone SIM unlocked is easy

There are also third-party unlocking services that will send you a code to unlock your phone. If you go this route, be sure to do a quick web search on the company to make sure they have decent customer feedback. Getting your phone unlocked by a third party is exactly the same as having a carrier do it; once the code is entered you’re good and can use a phone on any compatible network.

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Know how much data you need

Most of us don’t need unlimited data. The Big Four have brought back unlimited plans for the people who do need them, and we think that’s great! But if you’re not someone who needs a ton of data every month you’re probably overpaying if you sign up for one of them.

You can check how much data you’ve used recently pretty easily. Your phone has a setting in the Wireless and networks section that tells you how much you have used in the past 30 days, but it’s a good idea to get a bigger sample size here. At your carrier’s website you should find a statement for the past few months that will show how much data each phone number on the account used. Get an average for the past couple of months, then add 1GB to it for a “just in case” bumper.

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Take this number and look at the MVNO you’re considering. Chances are there is a plan that will cover what you need. The best part? You don’t have a contract and can adjust things next month if you need to!

All the ways you can monitor and save data usage

What happens if you use all of your data for the month?

Life isn’t static. Even with careful planning you might have a month where you had to use more data than you budgeted. It’s important to know what happens and how you can add more data on a temporary basis.

Most every MVNO will sell “extra” data in 1GB increments. It’s usually a little more than it would be if it were bundled into a pre-packged plan, but it won’t be outrageous. Most companies charge about $10 per GB.

Buying extra data is always easy, but make sure you know how to do it before you need it.

What you need to do is check how you can add it right from your phone, so when you’re close to using your allotted amount you can tap a few buttons and fill up your data bucket. You’ll find this information on the company’s website along with any other services they offer, such as international roaming or auto-refilling.

This is important because MVNOs aren’t like the Big Four, and won’t keep you connected then charge you overage fees (the good part) and instead usually cut you off completely once you’ve used all you have paid for (the bad part). Don’t get stuck with no data and no way to buy more!

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Some things cost extra or are not available

Wireless carriers can be strict about what they allow on their networks, and MVNOs are no different. Their business model — buy wireless service in bulk and resell with no frills — means they will have some restrictions on what you can and can’t do, like tethering your phone or using your phone to call and text with someone outside of the U.S.

Chances are none of us are planning to run a server from our phone, but if you want to tether a laptop or tablet through your phone once in a while or call and text relatives in Mexico, you need to know the rules so you know what to expect. Many MVNOs will have simple and cost effective add-ons you can apply if you need more than just the basic service.

Just take the time to read the terms and see what you can and can’t do while using the service. If you’re unsure of anything you see, call or chat with a sales rep through the website and get squared away.

Advanced features may not work

Many of us have phones that support things like HD voice calls (VoLTE) or Wi-Fi calling. They’re nice features if you use them regularly, but most of the time they are very phone and network specific. An MVNO may not have them at all, or you may need phones designed to run on a specific carrier to use them.

Advanced calling features require very specific phones.

This works the same way for the Big Four. If you want Verizon’s HD Voice, for example, you’ll need to have a phone that says Verizon on the back because it was built to the carrier’s specs to use the service. Because most MVNOs don’t sell phones under their own brand, you’ll have to investigate if any of the features they offer need a specific brand of phone.

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Mint SIM offers Wi-Fi calling, and it works really well — as long as you have a phone that supports T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling feature. Verizon offers its own Wi-Fi calling but it’s not supported on Mint SIM. Most phones that support Wi-Fi calling are built to work on both networks so you’re OK with either a Verizon or T-Mobile phone, but not a Sprint or an AT&T phone. It can be a little confusing even to smartphone veterans!

You don’t need any of these extras to have good, cheap cellular service. That’s the best part. But if you see something you don’t understand, you can drop a question in the comments and someone can help give you an answer.

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Prioritization is a thing

Prioritization means a carrier like T-Mobile identifies which phones using the network are doing it through an MVNO and gives priority to their direct customers. Only a certain number of phones can be connected to a cell tower at a time, and we’re always switching on and off to make sure everyone has a turn. We’ve all probably been somewhere that a lot of people were using their phones and the service got really slow — that’s because the lines to get your turn were long and you noticed the wait time.

When things get extreme, MVNO customers can experience even slower service because direct customers are given priority. I use MVNO carriers almost exclusively because I love the value they offer. But I do get to see prioritization in action every year on The Mall in Washington, D.C. during the annual July Fourth celebration. There are three-quarters of a million people jammed into a four block area, and we’re all on our phones. Folks who pay AT&T (for example) directly for service have very poor service. People like me using an MVNO have practically no service.

There’s nothing you can do about this, and no secret hack you see on the internet is going to work. It just happens when there are way too many people using just a few towers. The rest of the year I get the same service I would have from one of the Big Four at a much lower price.

Bonus number 9 thing!

You’re going to have extra money every month. You’ll have the service you are used to in most every way, but it costs a lot less and you only have to pay for the amount you’ll need. Some MVNOs only charge you for the exact amount you use!

Saving enough for a nice night on the town because you switched phone companies is a great feeling. You’ll love it.

Updated June 2017: We made sure the information was still great and relevant for the latest phones.

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2
Jul

Ben Heck’s mini pinball game: States and sound effects


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In this episode, Ben and team use Arduino and the Teensy 3.6 to create the game logic and sound for their miniature Pinball machine. Using the C++ Programming language, Ben takes Felix’s C code and makes it suitable for embedded microcontroller hardware with a logic state machine. This virtualized state machine monitors what’s happening with the Pinball hardware, including buttons and what the pinball touches, and reacts by increasing your score or playing music and sounds. Follow along with the build and give the team your suggestions over on the element14 Community.

2
Jul

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Graphene headphones, a smarter ball for Fido


At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Bringy — smart dog ball

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Fitness trackers for pets aren’t exactly a novel concept, but Bringy is a fresh take on an otherwise stale idea. Instead of tracking your furry friend’s every move (or lack thereof), this gizmo is designed to track your dog’s ball-chasing stats. It’s basically a bunch of sensors and processors packed into a durable, fetch-proof ball. When paired with a smartphone, the device can monitor the speed and distance that your dog has run, and also track how high he or she jumps to retrieve the ball. It’ll even compile stats over time so you can see how your dog has improved in terms of quickness and agility while training with the ball.

And don’t worry about it getting chewed to bits, either — Bringy is made of durable, chew-proof materials that are designed to keep the internal electronics safe no matter how much abuse you give it. And Bringy is jam packed with other handy features; for instance, it has a built-in alarm that can be activated to help locate it when you lose track of the ball, as well as an internal LED light that makes it more visible in low-light conditions. It is also shock and waterproof, allowing it to be used on hard ground, concrete, or even a lake or pool.

Foldio3 — ultraportable pop-up photo studio

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If you’re an avid online seller on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or even Etsy and Amazon, you know how important it is to have high-quality product shots. A good image can spell the difference between making a sale and missing out on one — especially if there are other sellers hawking similar wares elsewhere online. But not everybody has a budget to hire a professional for magazine-quality photos (nor the time to make one of their own). That is, until now.

Foldio3 is (as you’ve probably guessed from the name) the third generation of Foldio’s signature pop-up photo studio. It’s essentially a collapsible box made from laminated white paper and equipped with a set of LEDs. When unfolded, it provides a perfectly-lit, all-encompassing white backdrop for your photos. But in this latest iteration, Foldio3 also has some new tricks to show off. Whereas the first and second generations were smaller, and intended primarily for smartphone photography, Foldio3 is larger, and designed for both smartphones and traditional cameras. It also boasts an updated lighting system that’s brighter and more consistent, which results in less visible shadows.

Visio — portable photoprojector

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Visio (not to be confused with the TV manufacturer Vizio) is a super-powerful mobile projector designed for one thing: emblazoning huge still images onto large outdoor spaces. With an aim to “bring still projection out of the shadow of animated projection,” the device projects photo slides onto potentially enormous surfaces, offering quality beyond that of 4K digital projection.The French team behind the device was keen to overcome limitations found with many of today’s projectors, including their high cost, physical fragility, high energy consumption, and large size.

To use Visio, you simply pop a standard 35mm slide into the device’s holder. Sure, most people don’t really keep 35mm slides around these days, but there are plenty of services that’ll convert your digital images into slide format for a small fee. Once you’ve got your image in physical form, you’re ready to go. Just open up the device, slip the slide between the light and the lens, close it up, and you’re ready to start projecting. Visio’s creators say the device runs for three hours on a single charge, and could appeal to artists interested in creating outdoor installations or simply showing off their work.

Ora GrapheneQ — graphene headphones

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Graphene is amazing. A true wonder-material, it’s exceptionally light, thin, and strong, making it ideal for a wide range of different applications — including making great sound. With that in mind, Canadian startup Ora has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the “world’s first” graphene-based headphones —  and while we haven’t had a chance to hear them yet, they certainly sound good on paper.

It’s all about physics — traditional dynamic drivers, also called moving coil drivers, use an electrically charged voice coil to move a cone, which in turn creates sound waves. The heavier a speaker’s cone, the harder it is to drive. With their incredible strength-to-weight ratio, graphene drivers cut down on the amount of power that’s required to move the coil back and forth, creating better efficiency, and in theory, better sound. But that’s not even the best part. Ora’s GrapheneQ compound is also ridiculously cheap to produce, so you can pre-order a set of these cutting-edge headphones for just $200 on Kickstarter.

Mistbox — moisture based air cooler

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Air conditioning is arguably the best thing since sliced bread, but unfortunately, AC units aren’t exactly the most efficient contraptions in the world. Running your AC all day is a surefire way to jack up your electricity bill. But what if there was a way to boost the cooling power of your AC system without using much more electricity? Well, thanks to a clever gizmo called Mistbox, that’s now possible.

To achieve this seemingly magical result, the device uses an age-old trick that scientists refer to as “evaporative cooling.” Essentially, you clip Mistbox onto your AC intake unit, and it’ll periodically send a burst of water mist into the air above the intake. Thanks to physics, this helps pre-cool the air before it enters your system, resulting in more efficient cooling for a relatively low amount of power input. Mistbox’s creators claim it can reduce your air conditioning bill by up to 30 percent. If that’s true, that means the device could pay for itself within a year or two — depending on how much your use your AC unit.




2
Jul

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Graphene headphones, a smarter ball for Fido


At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Bringy — smart dog ball

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Fitness trackers for pets aren’t exactly a novel concept, but Bringy is a fresh take on an otherwise stale idea. Instead of tracking your furry friend’s every move (or lack thereof), this gizmo is designed to track your dog’s ball-chasing stats. It’s basically a bunch of sensors and processors packed into a durable, fetch-proof ball. When paired with a smartphone, the device can monitor the speed and distance that your dog has run, and also track how high he or she jumps to retrieve the ball. It’ll even compile stats over time so you can see how your dog has improved in terms of quickness and agility while training with the ball.

And don’t worry about it getting chewed to bits, either — Bringy is made of durable, chew-proof materials that are designed to keep the internal electronics safe no matter how much abuse you give it. And Bringy is jam packed with other handy features; for instance, it has a built-in alarm that can be activated to help locate it when you lose track of the ball, as well as an internal LED light that makes it more visible in low-light conditions. It is also shock and waterproof, allowing it to be used on hard ground, concrete, or even a lake or pool.

Foldio3 — ultraportable pop-up photo studio

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

If you’re an avid online seller on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or even Etsy and Amazon, you know how important it is to have high-quality product shots. A good image can spell the difference between making a sale and missing out on one — especially if there are other sellers hawking similar wares elsewhere online. But not everybody has a budget to hire a professional for magazine-quality photos (nor the time to make one of their own). That is, until now.

Foldio3 is (as you’ve probably guessed from the name) the third generation of Foldio’s signature pop-up photo studio. It’s essentially a collapsible box made from laminated white paper and equipped with a set of LEDs. When unfolded, it provides a perfectly-lit, all-encompassing white backdrop for your photos. But in this latest iteration, Foldio3 also has some new tricks to show off. Whereas the first and second generations were smaller, and intended primarily for smartphone photography, Foldio3 is larger, and designed for both smartphones and traditional cameras. It also boasts an updated lighting system that’s brighter and more consistent, which results in less visible shadows.

Visio — portable photoprojector

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Visio (not to be confused with the TV manufacturer Vizio) is a super-powerful mobile projector designed for one thing: emblazoning huge still images onto large outdoor spaces. With an aim to “bring still projection out of the shadow of animated projection,” the device projects photo slides onto potentially enormous surfaces, offering quality beyond that of 4K digital projection.The French team behind the device was keen to overcome limitations found with many of today’s projectors, including their high cost, physical fragility, high energy consumption, and large size.

To use Visio, you simply pop a standard 35mm slide into the device’s holder. Sure, most people don’t really keep 35mm slides around these days, but there are plenty of services that’ll convert your digital images into slide format for a small fee. Once you’ve got your image in physical form, you’re ready to go. Just open up the device, slip the slide between the light and the lens, close it up, and you’re ready to start projecting. Visio’s creators say the device runs for three hours on a single charge, and could appeal to artists interested in creating outdoor installations or simply showing off their work.

Ora GrapheneQ — graphene headphones

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Graphene is amazing. A true wonder-material, it’s exceptionally light, thin, and strong, making it ideal for a wide range of different applications — including making great sound. With that in mind, Canadian startup Ora has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the “world’s first” graphene-based headphones —  and while we haven’t had a chance to hear them yet, they certainly sound good on paper.

It’s all about physics — traditional dynamic drivers, also called moving coil drivers, use an electrically charged voice coil to move a cone, which in turn creates sound waves. The heavier a speaker’s cone, the harder it is to drive. With their incredible strength-to-weight ratio, graphene drivers cut down on the amount of power that’s required to move the coil back and forth, creating better efficiency, and in theory, better sound. But that’s not even the best part. Ora’s GrapheneQ compound is also ridiculously cheap to produce, so you can pre-order a set of these cutting-edge headphones for just $200 on Kickstarter.

Mistbox — moisture based air cooler

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Air conditioning is arguably the best thing since sliced bread, but unfortunately, AC units aren’t exactly the most efficient contraptions in the world. Running your AC all day is a surefire way to jack up your electricity bill. But what if there was a way to boost the cooling power of your AC system without using much more electricity? Well, thanks to a clever gizmo called Mistbox, that’s now possible.

To achieve this seemingly magical result, the device uses an age-old trick that scientists refer to as “evaporative cooling.” Essentially, you clip Mistbox onto your AC intake unit, and it’ll periodically send a burst of water mist into the air above the intake. Thanks to physics, this helps pre-cool the air before it enters your system, resulting in more efficient cooling for a relatively low amount of power input. Mistbox’s creators claim it can reduce your air conditioning bill by up to 30 percent. If that’s true, that means the device could pay for itself within a year or two — depending on how much your use your AC unit.




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