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Microsoft’s City Art Search app now documents over 8,000 great works

Why it matters to you

Microsoft’s free City Art Search app is a great way to seek out specific pieces art and individual artists in cities all over the world.

Microsoft has released a new update to its City Art Search app, making it an even more comprehensive directory of the world’s greatest works of art. It now covers a total of 8,614 different artworks, situated in major metropolitan areas all over the world.

The idea behind the City Art Search app is to give users a way to seek out fine art in a number of different ways. It’s possible to search by artist, by the century the piece was produced in, or even by artistic movement.

The app’s main focus is directing users toward the galleries and museums where they can see particular pieces of art in person. You can specify a city or even a particular gallery, and find out which well known works are situated in that area, making it a great tool for people who want to take in some culture while they’re travelling.

Of course, it’s impossible for the app to document every single piece of art in every single gallery worldwide, so Microsoft started out documenting many of the big hitters of the art world. Girl with a Pearl Earring, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and The Great Wave off Kanagawa are just a few of the instantly recognizable paintings that were added early on.

With the app’s database now fleshed out, it’s becoming an increasingly powerful tool whether you’re touring the galleries of Europe or enjoy some art closer to home in North America. It seems that Microsoft will continue to add more entries with each new version. This update also contributes some minor improvements to the user interface, bug fixes, and some data cleansing.

The City Art Search app also offers art lovers a neat way to beautify their Windows devices. Outside of its search capabilities, there’s the option to set the Lock Screen to display a different work from its collection every hour, according to a report from MS Power User.

Microsoft’s City Art Search app is available now for free via the Windows Store, for devices running Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.1 Mobile.


Former Google SVP says Android photography is a few years behind the iPhone

Google’s erstwhile SVP of social won’t be picking up an Android phone for photography again.

Vic Gundotra worked as an SVP of engineering at Google for nearly eight years before departing the company in 2014. Gundotra was the driving force behind the creation of Google+, and the executive ran Google’s mobile efforts from 2007 to 2010.

In a Facebook post, Gundotra praised Apple’s computational photography chops when it comes to the portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, calling the results “stunning.”

The end of the DSLR for most people has already arrived. I left my professional camera at home and took these shots at…

Posted by Vic Gundotra on Saturday, July 29, 2017

In portrait mode, the iPhone 7 Plus uses both camera lenses to create a depth of field effect, making the subject stand out by blurring out the background. Recent Android devices like the OnePlus 5 also offer the feature, but the software processing isn’t quite at the same level as the iPhone 7 Plus.

Gundotra touched on the subject when a commenter pointed out that the camera on the Galaxy S8 does a better job than the iPhone 7. Gundotra replied that Google “has fallen back” when it comes to computational photography, and that Android phones are a few years behind the iPhone:

Here is the problem: It’s Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

It’s because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

Also the greatest innovation isn’t even happening at the hardware level – it’s happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago – they had had “auto awesome” that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc… but recently Google has fallen back).

Apple doesn’t have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.

Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don’t mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.

Gundotra’s comments are particularly interesting because the Google Pixel showcased what the company could achieve through software processing. We conducted a blind camera test between the Galaxy S8, LG G6, Google Pixel, and the iPhone 7 earlier this year, and after 53,000 votes, the Galaxy S8 came out on top as the best overall shooter, followed by the Pixel:

The best smartphone camera, as judged by you!

Even though the likes of the Galaxy S8 and Pixel hold their own next to the iPhone, it looks like the former Google SVP won’t be picking up an Android phone again for photography:

Yes it’s stunning. By the way, I ran all of Google’s mobile efforts from 2007-2010. I was SVP of engineering. So I understand this topic reasonably well. I would NEVER buy an Android phone again if I cared about photography.

What do you guys think of Gundotra’s comments about the state of Android photography?


Galaxy S8 Active training manual leak confirms 4000mAh battery

The Galaxy S8 Active is a rugged Galaxy S8 with a larger battery.

Late last week, a user in the AC Forums posted images of the Galaxy S8 Active in the wild, showcasing the hardware on offer. A new leak from Android Police — which details the training manual for Samsung’s upcoming phone — gives us another look at the overall design and internal specs.


The leak confirms previous rumors regarding the Galaxy S8 Active: the device will feature a 5.8-inch QHD Super AMOLED shatter-resistant display, Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal storage, microSD slot, IP68 and MIL-STD-810G rating, 12MP dual pixel camera, 8MP front shooter, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and a 4000mAh battery.


On the software front, the S8 Active will run Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. The phone will also offer a dedicated Bixby button, but there are no physical navigation keys. The screen doesn’t quite have the same effect as the Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but the added durability should more than make up for it.


Like its predecessors, the S8 Active will likely be exclusive to AT&T in the U.S., but there’s no carrier branding at the back this time around. What are your thoughts on the Galaxy S8 Active?

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

  • Galaxy S8 and S8+ review!
  • Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs
  • Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8’s cameras
  • Get to know Samsung Bixby
  • Join our Galaxy S8 forums



Common OnePlus 5 problems and how to fix them


Everyone’s phone has a problem at some point.

When it comes to troubleshooting problems with a phone, there are so many variables it can be tough to figure out just what’s going wrong. Even if the OnePlus 5 itself may be solid out of the box, the way you’ve set it up, used it and installed apps to it could combine to create problems you may not be able to diagnose and fix yourself.

We’re here to help, and have rounded up some of the most common problems we’ve seen reported with the OnePlus 5 and how you can hopefully fix them. If you’re having trouble with your OnePlus 5, this is a great place to start.

Screen the ‘wrong’ color


For as much as people talk about screen quality, we have to realize that different people see screen colors differently and also have varying preferences about how screens should look. OnePlus knows this, and gives you options for tweaking how the screen looks to you on the OnePlus 5. Head into Settings then Display and Screen calibration to change how the screen looks.

The quick toggles move you between default, sRGB and DCI-P3 — you can see how each one looks when you touch the toggle. Unless you’re a display nerd you probably won’t like the sRGB or DCI-P3 settings, but it’s worth seeing for a moment how they feel to your eyes. More likely, you’ll just want to tap “custom” and use the slider to choose a cooler or warmer screen temperature that’s just how you want it.

Once you’re done there, back out of the Screen calibration settings and take a look at both “Night mode” and “Reading mode,” both of which help with eye strain when looking at your screen. Night mode makes your screen warmer at night, which many people find reduces eye strain and helps you get to sleep at night — you can set it manually or automatically, and choose how strong the effect is. Reading mode makes the screen a soft greyscale so it’s easier to read text for a long period of time — it can be set manually or on a per-app basis.

Wakelocks causing bad battery life


Most people — ourselves included — report strong battery life from the OnePlus 5, but if you take a look over at the OnePlus forums and our own AC forums you’ll find numerous complaints about wakelocks causing the phone to burn through its 3300mAh capacity. If you feel your battery life is just fine, you have nothing to worry about; but if it’s dying early in the day, it’s time to investigate.

Take a look at your OnePlus 5’s battery stats and go to the graph that shows its usage. You’ll notice the “awake” bar — if it indicates the phone is consistently awake when it shouldn’t be, then you may have a problem. But keep in mind that things like listening to music over Bluetooth will keep that bar solid, even though your screen isn’t on and the phone isn’t doing much else. So it isn’t always indicative of a true problem.

Diagnosing what’s causing the wakelock is tougher. A good bet is that if your phone is being kept awake by a single app, that app will also show up in the top few spots of the battery usage stats. If you see Facebook, for example, using up 10% of your battery, consider force stopping the app to see if when it restarts the problem persists. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error, but if you follow the lead of the data you’re given you’ll be on the right track.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth problems

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues are some of the toughest to diagnose because there are so many variables involved with them. As a general rule of thumb, here’s the basic process of troubleshooting:

Turn off the device you’re attempting to connect to (if possible).
Turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on your phone.
Turn back on the device you’re connecting to, and see if they connect.
If they still fail, forget the Wi-Fi network and re-authenticate, or unpair and repair the Bluetooth device.

  • To forget a Wi-Fi network, go into your Settings, press and hold on the network and tap “Forget network”.
  • To unpair a Bluetooth device, go into your Settings, tap the gear icon next to the device and tap Forget.

If problems persist, attempt to connect to the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device with another phone if possible to isolate the issues.

Unfortunately Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can be exceptionally problematic. If the above steps don’t help, you’re going to have to continue troubleshooting methods relating to that specific device you’re trying to connect with.

VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling not working


Both VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and Wi-Fi calling are great features that give you better call quality in just about every situation. But depending on your carrier, you may not see one, the other, or either of these features on the OnePlus 5. You can check for VoLTE and Wi-Fi by going into Settings then SIM & network and looking for the toggles for each under “Enhanced Communications.” You’ll also notice that by default the status bar will display a VoLTE or Wi-Fi icon.

If your carrier is supported, it should just work automatically.

If your phone doesn’t seem to have VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling working, chances are it’s not something you’ve done wrong or can change. In order to use these features, you have to be on a supported carrier — for example, T-Mobile in the U.S., but not AT&T.

OnePlus says it supports VoLTE on China Mobile, EE (UK), Reliance Jio (India) and T-Mobile (U.S.). Wi-Fi calling is supported on EE and T-Mobile. You may have success on other carriers, but so far this is the official list of support.

If the carrier offers these features and is also one OnePlus has chosen to support, things will just automatically work by simply having the SIM card in your phone.

Dialing emergency number causes reboot

You may have heard of an issue affecting some OnePlus 5 owners on some networks where calling emergency services resulted in the phone spontaneously rebooting. Thankfully through some quick action OnePlus and Qualcomm were able to work together and fix the problem with a software update.

That software update started rolling out to phones on July 21, and so long as you’ve been keeping your phone up to date this specific issue has been resolved without any further configuration on your end. OnePlus is confident that this has fixed the problem and you should have confidence in knowing your phone will be able to call emergency services like any other phone.

Seeing a ‘jelly scrolling’ effect


So much has been made of the so-called “jelly scrolling” effect on the OnePlus 5 that it’s kind of hard to wade through the hyperbole and see what’s actually going on. Many have described the issue as the interface not properly reacting to the weight of your finger’s scrolling through long lists on the phone, leading to a jelly-like rebound surrounding your finger. But here’s the thing: if you don’t see any issues with scrolling on your OnePlus 5, don’t go looking for them.

The official stance from OnePlus is that every OnePlus 5 is the same, and there isn’t any difference between phone models or software builds causing issues with scrolling. So if you do notice the jelly scrolling effect, you’re pretty much out of luck — you either have to live with it, or return the phone. Every phone is going to have some number of characteristics that don’t work for everyone, and this “jelly scrolling” situation is one for the OnePlus 5.

How to factory reset the OnePlus 5

Smartphones have become amazingly advanced in the past five years, but that complexity has come with the downside that this software just isn’t perfect. You can troubleshoot your problems all day and night, and sometimes you’ll be in a situation where you just can’t find a fix — and that means your real fix is to factory reset your phone and start it from scratch.

Yes, it stinks to wipe out your phone. But it also isn’t great to keep living with problems that constantly bother you. Here’s how to factory reset your OnePlus 5 and start over anew.

Open the Settings.
Scroll down and tap Backup & reset.
Tap on Factory data reset.
Tap the toggle for Erase internal storage.
Tap Reset phone and confirm your unlock pattern if necessary.
Tap Erase everything.

Let’s hope when you set up your phone again it doesn’t exhibit the same issues you were having before.

OnePlus 5

  • Complete OnePlus 5 review
  • OnePlus 5 specs
  • Which OnePlus 5 model should you buy?
  • Camera comparison: OnePlus 5 vs. Galaxy S8
  • The latest OnePlus 5 news
  • Join the discussion in the forums



Cricket Wireless Buyer’s Guide: Everything you need to know

Here’s everything you need to know about the AT&T MVNO.

Cricket Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) or “alternative carrier”. MVNOs lease coverage from the Big Four networks (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) and sell it to customers for less. The benefit of an MVNO is that you experience the same level of service as a customer on one of the larger networks, but you can often find talk, text, and data plans for a fraction of the cost.

Cricket is owned by and leases coverage from AT&T. If you sign up with Cricket, that means you get AT&T’s 4G LTE coverage, as well as unlimited plans.

Cricket Wireless coverage map

If you like AT&T’s coverage, but you’d prefer a cheaper bill every month, then consider signing up with an MVNO. Here’s what you need to know about Cricket Wireless.

  • Individual plans
  • Family plans
  • Best Cricket Wireless phones
  • How to cancel Cricket Wireless
  • How to unlock a Cricket phone
  • Finding another MVNO



Individual plans

Cricket offers fairly straightforward unlimited talk and text plans with varying allotments of 4G LTE data. All plan prices are flat fees, with taxes and fees included. So you will only pay $30/month if you opt for the $30 plan, for example. All plans, except the $25/month Talk & Text plan, come with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. Pricing varies depending on how much 4G LTE data you opt for.

Price (monthly) $30 $40 $50 $55 $60
With Auto Pay $25 $35 $45 $50 $55
Extras Eligible for Group Save Discount Tethering included, International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount

The base plan is $25/month and includes only unlimited calling and texting, with no data access or multimedia messaging. $30/month gets you 1GB of 4G LTE data (max 8Mbps) ; $40/month gets you 4GB of 4G LTE and the plan is eligible for the $5/month Auto Pay discount (max 8Mbps) ; $50/month gets you 8GB of 4G LTE and the $5/month Auto Pay discount (max 8Mbps) ; $55/month gets you 22GB of data (max 3Mbps); and $60/month gets you 22GB of 4G LTE up to 8Mbps.

Note: If you want tethering (mobile hotspot), the only compatible plan is the 8GB $50/month plan. It’s weird, but that’s the way it is.

Learn more

Family plans

Cricket calls its family plans “Group Save Discounts”. In order to receive the discount, each line of up to 5 lines must be on the $40/month 4GB plan or better. You save more with each line you add, for lines 2 to 5.

You save $10 off the second line, $20 off the third, $30 off the fourth, and $40 off the fifth, so if you have 5 lines, you can save $100 per month. The $5/month Auto Pay credit is not available when you use the Group Save Discount.

Learn more

Best Cricket Wireless phones

Since Cricket Wireless operates on AT&T’s network, you can bring your own phone, and it can be just about any GSM device. Before you decide, however, you should check compatibility.

If you don’t have a phone of your own to bring or want to update, these are the ones you should consider.

Samsung Galaxy S8


Arguably the best Android smartphone available, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a gorgeous phone with all the bells and whistles you could want in an Android device. It features a lightning-fast fingerprint sensor, as well as facial recognition and iris scanning to unlock it. The infinity display packs even more screen into a smaller form factor, helping to keep it just this side of “phablet” territory. The best part is that, if you join Cricket, you can get it for $699.99, which is $50 less than what AT&T is selling it for! If that price tag is too high, the Galaxy S7 is still holding up remarkably well.

Learn more

ZTE Blade X Max


A big phone at a small phone price, the ZTE Blade X Max is incredible value at $99.99. Exclusive to Cricket Wireless, the ZTE Blade X Max features a massive 6-inch HD display, a 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, and a 3400mAh battery, all running Android 7.1.1 Nougat.

Learn more



How to cancel Cricket Wireless

Cricket might just be the easiest service to cancel in the world. This is a direct quote from its website:

We don’t want to see you go! But if you need to cancel your service, just stop paying.

Yeah. That’s it. If you haven’t paid within 60 days of your last Cricket pay date, your account will be canceled. Just be aware that once it’s canceled, that’s it: your number is made unavailable, your account is closed, and any remaining balance is removed.

If you have an account with more than one line, you’ll have to give Cricket a call at 1-800-274-2538 (1-800-CRICKET) or dial 611 on your Cricket Wireless phone. You can also chat on the Cricket site.

How to unlock a Cricket Wireless phone

All you have to do is call 1-800-CRICKET (274-2538) and request an unlock code. You do, however, have to meet the following requirements:

  • The device you want to unlock has to have been active for at least 6 months or you’re on an unlimited plan.
  • The device hasn’t been reported as lost or stolen.
  • The phone is actually locked to Cricket’s network.
  • The device isn’t associated with a fraudulent account.

Basically, if you’ve been a customer in good standing for at least 6 months, you just have to ask.

Learn more

Finding another MVNO

If you like AT&T’s coverage and are considering Cricket Wireless but want other options, then you may want to consider another MVNO that uses AT&T’s network or another that uses multiple networks.

There are more than 15 MVNOs that use AT&T’s network, so you have many to choose from, and some may work better in your area than others.

Learn more

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)


  • What is an alternative mobile carrier?
  • What are the advantages of going with an alternative carrier?
  • How to make sure your phone works on a prepaid alternative carrier
  • 8 Important Considerations When Switching To An MVNO
  • These are the cheapest data plans you can buy in the U.S.
  • Mint SIM vs. Cricket Wireless: Which is better for you?



Top 5 things you need to know about switching carriers


Switching phone service doesn’t have to be such a chore.

Changing your phone carrier can be stressful. Shopping around and seeing so many different choices and prices and crazy perks can leave anyone confused ready to throw in the towel.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you remember a few tips before you get started you’ll be able to weave your way through all the hyperbole and get what you need and what you want. If you’re ready to move on to a new carrier, here are five things you need to know.

Coverage, coverage, coverage


Any time we talk about carriers and their service, coverage gets mentioned. That’s because it is the single most important thing you need to consider before you sign or buy anything. There is no value in paying for service that doesn’t work for you.

Start by looking at online coverage maps. These are never 100% accurate (the providers even acknowledge this) but can be a good starting point. If you’re shown in an area of full coverage and not on the fringe of service, that’s a good sign. Also, be sure to use the selection tools of the map to check both voice and data coverage, as well as high-speed LTE data coverage versus lower speed network coverage.

  • AT&T coverage map
  • Sprint coverage map
  • T-Mobile coverage map
  • Verizon coverage map

Don’t stop there. Ask your friends what service they use and if they’re happy with it. Making sure you’ll have good coverage is worth all the legwork. If nothing else, check and see if the service you’re considering has some sort of money-back guarentee and try it yourself.



Will your phone work?


Unless you plan on buying a new phone, be sure to check that your phone works with the carrier you’re considering. Some phones, like an iPhone or a Google Nexus or Pixel, will work on any U.S. carrier. Others, especially models that are a few years old, only work on specific networks.

If you’re considering an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) you should see which of the Big Four (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) networks they use. If your phone was built to use the same network the MVNO is using, you’re probably good to go as long as it’s SIM unlocked. If not, things can get a little complicated.

Here’s a chart to help get you started.

AT&T UMTS/GSM/HSPA+/LTE 850, 1900 700 b/c, 1700 a/b/c/d/e, 1900 2, 4, 12, 17
Sprint CDMA/LTE 800, 1900 850, 1900 g, 2500 25, 26, 41
T-Mobile UMTS/GSM/HSPA+/LTE 1900, 1700/2100 (AWS) 700 a, 1700 d/e/f, 1900 2, 4, 12
Verizon CDMA/LTE 850, 1900 700 c, 1700 f, 1900 2, 4 13

You’ll find the information about what frequencies and LTE bands your phone uses in the user manual, at the manufacturers website or other online resources. Keep in mind that some phones from different carriers may share a few frequencies or radio bands, that doesn’t make them compatible. For example, a phone built for Verizon shares two LTE bands with AT&T’s network. That doesn’t mean it will work, even if an advanced user can fiddle with settings to get it to partially work in some places.

If you’re not an enthusiast who knows or cares about frequencies and radio bands, don’t worry. There’s a great online resource that can give you the answers you need. Just enter the model of your phone and the carrier you are thinking of using and you’ll find out if your phone works.

Will My Phone Work?

One last option is to just call the carrier and ask if your phone will work. You might be put on hold for a few minutes, but they can figure it out for you.

SIM unlocking


Your phone will probably need to be SIM unlocked to use it on a carrier it wasn’t designed for. This is different from Jailbreaking or rooting, and is simply lifting the restriction some carriers put in place to keep you from using the phone on another network.

Many phones, like the Google Pixel or some iPhone models, are sold unlocked and designed to use on any GSM network (see the table above) and even Sprint or Verizon in a few cases. These phones are advertised as unlocked when you buy them.

Phones sold by Sprint and Verizon might also be SIM unlocked, especially if they’re relatively new. Things can get a little complicated here, too, because even though they are unlocked they may have carrier restrictions in place so they won’t work on other U.S. carriers. It’s also a safe bet to say a phone designed to use on Sprint won’t work on a carrier that uses Verizon’s network and vice versa.

The good news is that it’s simple to get a phone SIM unlocked. If your account is in good standing and the phone is paid in full, the carrier will unlock it. Give them a call and they will give you a code. Put in your new SIM card and you’ll be able to enter the code when prompted.

If you bought the phone second hand or no longer have an active account with the carrier it was built for, you can turn to a third party. The process is the same, so all you need to do is find a reputable company and contact them. Most companies who provide this service are trustworthy, but take a few minutes to search their name on Google to read user reviews and make sure you’re comfortable before you pay $20 or so for an unlock code.



What plan should you buy?


There are a lot of different service plans available to fit most every user. You can buy service that is voice and text only, or go big and buy a plan with unlimited everything. The important thing is to get the plan that works best for both your usage and your wallet. That means you need to know how much data you need.

If you need unlimited data, you know it already. You want to stream video and music and browse the internet on your phone because it’s a great tool to do those things, and Wi-Fi isn’t the best option. All the Big Four carriers offer unlimited plans so you’ll be able to find one on the network that works best for you. We’ve gone into each plan in-depth, and it’s a great place to start.

Which unlimited plan should you buy: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon?

Most people don’t need an unlimited plan. When you’re shopping for plans that offer a fixed amount of data each month, you have a lot of choices. With a little homework, you can get a service plan that works great and saves you money.

You’ll need to know how much data you use each month. Android has plenty of tools to help, and you can get the information you need from your current carrier, too. We have you covered and you can see all the ways to monitor and save data in one place.

These are all the ways you can save data and monitor your data usage

When you have a good handle on how much you need, you can be a wise shopper and get exactly what you need.

Your number goes with you


Once you’ve settled on what type of service you’re going to buy and who you’re going to buy it from, there’s one last thing to remember: you can take your phone number with you no matter which company you get service from.

Don’t let a company tell you that you can’t keep your number. By law, you can.

This is called porting your number, and in most every case (some numbers created by VOIP services can’t be ported) it belongs to you. And keeping it to use with your new service is easy.

Every company does things a little differently, but you’ll need to know your phone number, your account number from your current carrier, and any PIN or password you use to access it. Your new carrier will ask for this information (yes, giving anyone a PIN or password is scary, but thats how it works) and they will handle the rest.

While your number is being ported you won’t be able to use it. Generally, this will be done the same day but sometimes it can take longer. Your new carrier will be able to advise you and let you know how the number port is going if it takes longer than a few hours.

When the number porting is done, your new service will use the same phone number you and everyone else is used to. This makes it easier to switch for everyone. The number is assigned to your phone or new SIM card, but it’s still yours and you can move it to another carrier anytime you like. Of course, you can always just get a new number if you like.

One last thing here: your voicemail and texts won’t transfer with your number. If you are using the same phone things switch with no issues, but if you’re changing phones, too, you’ll need to back up anything important from your messages.

Switching carriers can be painless. Armed with this information you’ll be able to breeze through the process and get the service you want at the best price.


YouTube launches Spotlight Canada channel to showcase up-and-coming talent

You can now subscribe to the best of Canadian YouTube.

YouTube has launched a channel to “shine a spotlight” on Canadian talent.

The channel, called Spotlight Canada, consolidates music, comedy, and esoterica, along with popular news and sports clips, in a single place, and will change monthly, according to a post on Google Canada’s blog.

The list comes in the form of video playlists, celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and some of its most popular celebrities, including The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and former ISS astronaut, Chris Hadfield, along with up-and-coming artists like Mike Tompkins, who also happens to be Canada’s first Creator on the Rise.

Finally, there’s a great spotlight on indigenous Canadian musicians, including the award-winning (and, frankly, amazing) A Tribe Called Red.


6 Amazon Echo accessories you never knew existed (but should definitely check out!)

Amazon’s Echo line already is pretty good. But for just a few bucks more you can make your Echo even better.

So you’ve got an Amazon Echo ($179.99). Or maybe (or more likely) the less-expensive Echo Dot ($49.99). Or maybe even a newfangled Echo Show ($229.99). That’s just the start of things. Turns out there’s a burgeoning accessory ecosystem that’s actually full of useful things that make your Echo just a little bit better.

And none of it breaks the bank.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the things you definitely should give a gander if you’ve got a new Echo.

Echo Dot Case

Let’s face it — the Echo Dot ain’t much of a looker. Fortunately, Amazon sells some clothes for this little guy. The fabric cases run $10, and the leather ones are about $20. While that’s a good chunk of the price of the Echo Dot itself, it goes a long way to turning the plastic puck into something you don’t mind folks seeing in your living room.

Do take care that you’re getting the right one, though. If your Echo Dot only has two buttons, it’s a first-generation Dot. The second-gen Dot sports four buttons.

See at Amazon

Portable Battery Case for original Echo


Why would you want this instead of an Amazon Tap, which is meant to be portable? Well, for one, you already own an Echo and don’t want to spend another $100 and change. Another reason would be that I’ve just never been that crazy about the Amazon Tap, and I’ve owned one from the start.

So that’s where this little guy comes in. This is an extra $50, but it’s definitely less expensive than adding a Tap to your Echo arsenal. It’s got a rubberized base that fits on the bottom of your OG Echo and promises up to 6 hours of playback time. It’s done up in that same sort of plastic as the Echo itself and sort of makes the whole thing look like a rocket. It’s got an on/off switch, low-battery LED and another for charging status.

This uses the Echo’s power cable to charge, which is nice, so you won’t have to have yet another USB cable clunking things up.

See at Amazon

Voice remote for Echo and Echo Dot


Let’s say you only have a single Echo in your home, but you want to use it from anywhere. That’s where this little $29 remote comes in. Stash it in your pocket and pull it out wherever you are to talk to Alexa — even if it’s in another room.

It’s also got dedicated buttons for music playback, which is nice.

See at Amazon

Screen protector for Echo Show


I’m not a huge fan of screen protectors, but I also won’t begrudge anyone who is. If you want to protect your investment, $8 gets you this tempered screen protector for the Echo Show. I could definitely see using it in the kitchen, perhaps, because food spills and splatters do happen.

See at Amazon

Wall hanger for Echo Dot


Some folks want to stash their Echo Dot on the wall, out of the way. Some folks also like to do so with tape or Velcro. But of course, there’s a better way.

This outlet hanger lets you stick the Dot (either generation) on the wall without drilling or needing extra wires. Not bad for about $14.

See at Amazon

VAUX cordless speaker for Echo Dot (Gen. 2)


The Echo Dot is great, but its speaker leaves a lot to be desired. This cordless speaker uses the Echo Dot’s 3.5mm aux plug for audio, and Micro-USB for charging.

After that you’ve got something that looks and sounds a whole lot better than the Echo Dot on its own, is portable — and at $50 still comes in less expensive than the Amazon Tap.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

  • Amazon Echo review
  • Echo Dot review
  • Top Echo Tips & Tricks
  • Tap, Echo or Dot: The ultimate Alexa question
  • Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
  • Get the latest Alexa news



Lunar ‘sandbox’ helps robots see in harsh moon lighting

Everything is more extreme on the moon. On top of temperatures that range from -300 F to +224 F, future astronauts and probes must deal with lighting conditions generously described as “harsh.” To help, researchers at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley created a lunar testbed, complete with craters, fluffy dust and solar simulator lights. The goal is to develop sensors that can “see” in such conditions to help probes and, eventually, humans navigate the surface safely.

With no atmosphere to scatter and reflect lighting, “what you get on the Moon are dark shadows and very bright regions that are directly illuminated by the Sun — the Italian painters in the Baroque period called it chiaroscuro,” says NASA Ames computer scientist Uland Wong. That’s a conundrum for surface probes, “because cameras don’t have the sensitivity to see the details that you need to detect a rock or crater,” he adds.

Pictures snapped by astronauts give us a decent idea of what the moon’s lighting is like. However, those shots were taken at well-lit spots in the early afternoon, when the illumination is best. To support future colonies, scientists are more interested in the polar regions, where it may be possible to drill for water and other essential elements. There, the sun is always on the horizon, producing long shadows that could cache jagged rocks and other dangers.

Computer simulations are fine, but nothing beats the real thing, as filmmakers have recently realized. The NASA Ames researchers built a 12-foot square sandbox with eight tons (!) of simulated lunar soil called JSC-1A. Craters, surface ripples and other obstacles were then added, and topped with a final, fine layer of soil, much like the real, pervasive moondust that exasperated Apollo astronauts. The whole thing was then lit with solar simulator lights to create “low-angle, high-contrast illumination,” NASA writes.

Guided by supercomputers, the team filmed everything with stereoscopic cameras, using multiple setups and lighting angles. They used that to build the POLAR (polar optical lunar analog reconstruction) dataset, which can be used by robotic vision designers on future probes, whether on the moon or other bodies in the solar system.

So far, the results show that stereo imaging might work best on rovers working at the moon’s poles. “One of the mission concepts that’s in development right now, Resource Prospector … might be the first mission to land a robot and navigate in the polar regions of the Moon,” Wong said. “And in order to do that, we have to figure out how to navigate where nobody’s ever been.”

Via: Parabolic Arc

Source: NASA


Japan’s first private rocket launch is a partial success

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hasn’t made a secret of their spaceflight ambitions; they aim to put humans on the moon before China. But private spaceflight is also reaching new heights (literally) in the country. On Sunday, Momo, a startup supported partially by crowdfunding, launched Japan’s first commercial space rocket from Hokkaido. The rocket was built by Interstellar Technologies Inc.

Unfortunately, the rocket failed to reach its target altitude of 100 km. Just over a minute into launch, the ground team lost communications with the rocket. This caused an early shutdown of the engine; estimates are that it only achieved an altitude of around 20 km.

If successful, this would have been the first private rocket launched in Japan developed by a Japanese company. The rocket is about 10 meters high, weighting around a ton. The cost of the launch was jut 50 million yen ($440,000). JAXA has led the country’s space efforts until now; their rocket launches cost somewhere between 200 million and 300 million yen ($1.8–$2.7 million).

The rocket’s partial failure is certainly a disappointment for Momo, but at this stage of development, any data is useful. Takafumi Horie, the Japanese entrepreneur behind Momo, said on his Facebook page, “We were able to get valuable data that could lead to success in the future.” Momo’s goal is to successfully develop a rocket that can deliver a small satellite to low Earth orbit by 2020.

Source: Bloomberg Technology

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