Tag Archives: Android

So Your iPhone XS Shows You Have 5G

Tech Tips – First, what is 5G? 5G stands for “Fifth Generation” and is the next generation of wireless communications. Most of our devices are operating on 4G at the moment. 5G will give us peak transmission speeds up to 20 Gb per second, far faster than what 4G provides. 5G will also provide reduced latency, energy savings, lower cost, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity.

The first phase of 5G specifications in Release-15 is not scheduled to be released until April 2019, with the second phase (Release-16) scheduled for completion by April 2020. Even then it has to be approved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While most carriers have test networks in place in selected locations, the worldwide commercial launch of 5G is not expected until 2020.

So how are AT&T customers seeing a “5GE” icon on their phones now? This is best attributed to some marketing efforts by AT&T. Their “5GE” is simply an enhanced version of the 4G LTE network you have been using. Users with 5GE capable phones may see faster performance in some areas. iPhone users must have iOS 12.2 or newer installed to be 5GE capable. For Android users, they need Android Pie or newer.

Only the iPhone XS and XS Max, as well any Android phone that uses 4×4 MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output radio), have the hardware compatible with 5GE. No iPhones currently on the market are 5G compatible. 5G requires different hardware.

References

  1. Everything You Need to Know About 5G
  2. AT&T 5GE on iPhone and Android phones: What you need to know
  3. 5G

Control Your Dongles

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Tech Tip – We all have so many dongles, cables and other accessories these days to carry along with our phones, tablets and laptops. It is often difficult to control all of these small items. Certainly there are several solutions that you can buy that are designed for the purpose, but we often have unused items laying around the house that offer a ‘free’ alternative.

For so many of us over the age of 40, the most likely option is an old eyeglasses case. But there are other containers that will fill the need – small boxes, jewelry boxes and various bags. While I was first introduced to this idea by my wife who was using an old eye glass case for her cables, I have seen the ‘life hack’ idea elsewhere since then.

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While these containers are on the small side, they will contain and control a variety of items that you want in your computer bag. In the photo above I am using an old jewelry box, a plastic cream cheese container from The container Store and the box that my AirPods came in. It is much easier to find one of these containers than digging through your computer bag trying to find a specific dongle or thumb drive.

Tech Tip – Private Browsing with StartPage

Product ReviewmacOS Toolkit – I don’t recall where I first saw StartPage, but I installed the extension into Safari a few weeks ago and have been using it on a regular basis.

So, what is StartPage? StartPage is a search engine company based in the Netherlands. The potential benefits of StartPage include:

  • it is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies
  • it uses secure connections over HTTPS
  • it does not collect search information
  • it provides private click-throughs using a proxy

The basis of the search engine results is Google, so the results of the searches are as good as any when using StartPage. StartPage is provided by Ixquick “the world’s most private search engine. Ixquick has been third-party certified by EuroPriSe, a European Union privacy initiative.” If you visit the StartPage website, you will see the very prominent statement that “StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!“. Many have become concerned with this as some ISPs have begun to ‘harvest’ search history information from their clients.

Beyond the search anonymity, sites listed in the StartPage search results are accessed through a proxy service that “allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.

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A portion of a search using StartPage is shown above. In the list of search results will be links very similar to those seen in a Google search. If you click on a link there, you leave the protection of StartPage and are browsing just as if you had been using Google. There is a “proxy” button besides each link in the search list. If you click that link then the page is retrieved through a StartPage proxy making your website visit invisible. You will encounter slower page loading when going through the proxy. StartPage provides a full description of how their proxy works here.

I think that this will become a standard part of my macOS Toolbox. While I am using StartPage with Safari, it is compatible with most browsers. There is also a Ixquick Search App that provides anonymous searching on mobile (iOS and Android) devices.  If you are concerned with your web browsing privacy, this may be an option you want to look into.


See my other macOS articles


 

Another Source of Tech Information

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I saw a article about How-To Geek, an online tech magazine, and thought that it might be something of interest to my readers.  It includes articles targeted at both the technical and general readers.

The site was founded in 2006. Articles are divided into the categories of Windows, Linux, Office, Gadgets, Mobile, Hardware, Apple, and Geek School. This might be a good addition to your ‘tech’ leisure reading.

I have subscribed to their RSS feed so that I get all of their articles in my RSS reader (I use the FOSS program Vienna).

Review of Slack

Updated 3/11/16

slack_rgb

What is Slack? Slack is a collaboration tool for groups that was developed under the leadership of Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield. It allows for synchronous communications from a variety of devices. Messages can be sent to groups or individuals
on a Slack Team. The groups are collected in ‘Channels’ and any message posted to the Channel is readable by any member of the Channel. The Channel members can also scroll back to see what messages have been exchanged in the past.

Channels are organized into both public and private categories, with the private Channels restricting members to be added by invitation only. One-on-one communications between individual Slack Team members are private. The tool allows messages, files,
images, links . . . a variety of information to be shared. Messages are searchable so past posts can easily be found.

Every Slack Team has a ‘general’ channel which all Team members are automatically a member of. Additional channels can be created as needed by the Team. The @ character can be used when writing a message to alert an individual, or all of the members of a given channel of the new message.

Multi Device Group

Slack is a cross platform solution:

  • Web interface from any browser
  • Apps for mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Apps for OS X (10.9+), Windows (7+) and Linux

Pricing of the service is available at three levels:

  • Free
  • Standard $8/mo. – unlimited integrations, unlimited searches
  • Plus $12/mo.  – more features above Standard

I have been using the Free account for a few months now and find it to be extremely useful. The Free account is limited to browsing and searching only the last 10,000 most recent messages, but that is more than enough for my use cases. I particularly like that I receive notifications on my Apple Watch when a new post has been made. It is much quicker and easier to glance at my watch instead of getting my iPhone out.

Several of us within the IEEE Central Texas Section have been using the tool and it has been very helpful in planning events. The Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) has recently begun using it as well. Even though I was out of town last weekend, Slack let me interact with other on the CapMac board to plan our last meeting. Once you begin to use Slack you may want to reach out to other established, public Teams. You can visit Slofile and there search their database of public Slack communities.

Slack has good information for new users on how they can get started including a brief video tour. Slack can be set up to allow any to join, allow any from a give set of email URLs to join, or join by invitation only.

Pros

  • Has a Free level of service
  • Supports multiple Slack Teams
  • Cross platform
  • Use of ‘channels’ to voluntarily collect similar posts
  • Good ‘Getting Started’ resources
  • Flexibility in controlling participation
  • Large and growing list of public Slack Teams
  • Works with Apple Watch

Cons

  • Wish more integrations were available for the Free level
  • no conversation ‘threads’

I highly recommend this App and service. Whether you choose to use it for your business, club or just your extended family, it is a great and easy way to communicate.

References:

  1. What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds – added 3/11/16

See my other iOS, OS X and Web Tools articles


Product Review – Levin Ultra Compact 5000mAh USB External Battery

$_35

I had a small external battery that I used for phone charging, but it seems to have found it’s way to a safe, but unknown location. My iPhone 5 battery seems to be sliding down the slope to failure, so I need to be able to charge up my iPhone while on the go. I did a survey of available products on Amazon and settled on the “Levin Ultra Compact 5000mAh USB External Battery with intelligent charging Technology” priced at $13.99 when I ordered it in early January 2016.

The order came quickly and I have put the battery to used a few times. I have to say that I am thrilled with the resulting performance. I have tried it with both my iPhone and iPad and found that it successfully charges both, which is a added benefit. This inexpensive device claims several positive characteristics:

  • High Performance : Adopts panasonic technogy ,large energy density, good temperature stability and better security.The most compact 5000mAh power bank.5V2A Outlet allows for simultaneous charging of your devices at high speed .
  • Effctive & Long-Life : Constructed with lithium-ion battery cells and built-in microchips to ensure safety use and long lifespan. 500+ recharge cycles over the life of the battery, after 24 months still maintains unrivaled performance
  • Intelligent Charging Technology : Built in intelligent charging protection function. Prevent white screen, black screen, cell phone system halted or shut down etc.
  • LED & Flashlight : The LED flashlight works perfectly in darkness, especially for emergency. The flash light will turn on when you just press the button for few seconds. 4 blue LED status of charge indicators indicate the charging and discharging process
  • Safty Guarrantee : Supports over-charged, over-discharged, over-voltage, over-current and short circuit protection, perfectly protects your digital devices from charging accident

While I have only used the battery for a little over a week, I find that this is a very cost effective device. It is small enough to fit into my pocket or lap top bag, yet contains enough power to keep my ailing iPhone working for hours. It will definitely be part of my “go bag” for the many meetings that I attend.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Capable of charging both iPhone and iPad
  • 5000 mAh capacity
  • Flashlight mode

Cons

  • Only 5000 mAh capacity
  • Only one USB charging output

See my other iOS articles


 

 

System Benchmarking with Geekbench

System Benchmarking with Geekbench

Have you ever wanted to see how well your system performed? Or compare two systems?

One way to do that is an way is with the application Geekbench 3 from Primate Labs. This program is cross platform with version for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. A free version is available, with expanded versions ($9.99, $14.99 and $99.99) for purchase.

The software can be downloaded from the web site and run on your system. When I ran Geekbench 3 on my 2011 Mac Mini, it took just over 2 minutes to complete the test. Tests are performed with a single and with multiple cores if they are available. Tests simulate real-world use including encryption, compression/decompression, floating point and memory performance. There is a detailed description of each test Geekbench 3 performs on the web site.

Primate Labs provides a reference chart for both Macs and PCs for comparison.

This App is not something I will use every day, but is nice to have in my digital tool box.


See my other Mac OS X and iOS articles


Product Review – iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger

Updated 12/9/15

iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger

I won an iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger a few months ago as a door prize at a CapMac meeting. We have used this a couple of times around the house to charge our various electronics.  Where this has really proven useful is on trips. My wife has taken it with her on trips with a grand daughter to dance conventions, as well as on out-of-town flag football tournaments. Having one charger that can handle up to six devices really comes in handy with all of the electronic gadgets today’s youth carry with them.

This 50W unit claims to be able to provide up to 2.4A on all six of the ports. Reviews on Amazon of this product are overwhelmingly
positive (4.8 out of 5 for nearly 850 reviews). Checking the fine print on the bottom of the device, it does seem to have a 10A limit for total output, so charging six iPads at the same time will be slow, if it works at all. For a mix of devices charging should be fine. I have not performed any testing, but my wife’s experience indicates that the unit charges more slowly than a dedicated charger with her iPad and iPhone.

UPDATED 12/9/15 – I just ran a (very unscientific) test on the charger. My iPad was at 40% and plugged it in to the iClever charger for 20 minutes. That raised the charge to 53%. I then plugged the iPad into an Apple charger and left it for another 20 minutes. That resulted in it going up to 60%. Sooooo, what does this really mean? Well, not too much actually, there are too many variables outside the control of this experiment. However, charging a single device on the iClever looks to be at least as good as using an Apple charger.

iClever has both a 4-port and a 6-port versions of this charger available for less than $25.

Overall, I would highly recommend this unit as a ‘must have’ when traveling with kids. Even when just my wife and I are traveling, it will be with us to simplify packing and enable charging of our iPhones, iPads and other electronics over nightwhen hotel room outlets may be in short supply.
Pros

  • Recognizes attached devices for optimal charging
  • Ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously
  • Able to supply 2.4 A on all ports
  • 4-port and 6-port versions still available
  • relatively low cost (under $25)

Cons

  • 10A maximum output
  • may not charge as fast as a dedicated Apple charger

See my other iOS articles


iOS – Roaming Hunger App

My wife and I took the opportunity this past weekend to explore Austin in search of food trucks we had seen featured on the Unique Sweets TV program. We found  Cow Tipping Creamery and Gourdough’s for some wonderful deserts. Then we visited  Melizoz’s Tacos for lunch.

We were able to find these fairly easily. There is a web site/App I came across in a National Geographic article (“How One Korean Taco Truck Launched an $800 Million Industry“, July 2015) that will help if you are in search of Food Truck opportunities in Austin (they also cover 36 other cities across the US, including San Antonio, Dallas and Houston) called Roaming Hunger. There are also FREE Apps for both iOS and Android so you can find a truck while on the go.

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You can find where trucks are located and when they are open. You can even book a Food Truck for your next event through Roaming Hunger. You can find the top Food Trucks in an area, recommend a new Food Truck you have found, so that it may be added to the list or vote for your favorite Food Trucks. I have this App on my iPhone now and look forward to using it to discover interesting dining not only in Austin, but in other cities I might visit.

Pros

  • Free
  • Web site, iOS App and Android App
  • Users can add new food trucks as they are found
  • Identifies wide range of food trucks in your area

Cons

  • More cities need to be added

See my other iOS articles


Product Review of “RescueTime”

I spend a lot of time on the computer each day – reading email, looking over articles from RSS subscriptions, and writing my own articles, among other activities. I have been wondering just how much time I am spending and where it is going. I came across the RescueTime App (produced by
RescueTime) that I thought might help identify where I was spending my computer time.

OS X - RescueTime

This is a cross-platform App that works on Windows, Android, Linux and OS X systems. There is a ‘Free’ version and a ‘Premium’ version of the product available. The intent of RescueTime is to give you an analysis of how you spend the time on your computer so that you can become more productive.

RescueTime runs in the background and really requires little interaction other than to tweak the configuration so that it reports properly for your needs. This App is not available through the App store, so you must download the DMG and then drag it over to Applications. You will also have to give the App permission to track what you are doing on your system.

I have been running RescueTime for a week now. The product offers considerable customization as to which Apps or websites should be considered productive or a distraction. To really get a lot out of the product, you need to spend some time customizing the settings to reflect your needs. This looks like something that needs to be done a few times over a several day period when you are starting so that the recorded activities are being dropped into the correct buckets for your work.

One of my concerns with the product is that data is being collected on what you are doing on your system and then sent to RescueTime for analysis. Their Privacy Policy does indicate that no detailed information will ever be shared, you can delete your data at any time, you won’t receive SPAM, and your information will not be shared with other users. Still, I am not entirely comfortable with this arrangement, and I am
not sure if this would be an App that most corporate Information Security organizations would approve of.

That said, I see many very positive reviews of RescueTime, and their web site touts many high profile users who speak highly of the product.

Features:

 

  • Detailed reports show which applications and websites you spent time on
  • Weekly summary email
  • Set daily goals, and track yourself against them
  • Activities are grouped into categories for tracking
  • Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly summaries
  • Activity categorization is customizable

So, is it a product I can’t live without? . . . No.

Is it useful? . . . Well, I’m honestly not sure yet. I need to see what the analysis is after more data has been gathered and I have refined the categories again. Looking at the RescueTime analysis of the past week, I don’t see anything that really surprises me. I’ll take another look after a full month of use and make an update.

Pros

  • Free version allows you to evaluate the product
  • Timely summaries of activities
  • User can customize activities
  • ‘Productivity Pulse’ number gauges how productive you are

Cons

  • Data sent to RescueTime for viewing from their web server
  • Customization is really needed for accurate reporting

See my other OS X articles