Authors Posts by Gadget Advisor

Gadget Advisor

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Credit: iphoneincanada.ca

The mobile phone industry is perhaps one of the worst in the world for actually delivering on promises. In part, this is because it’s propped up on the hodgepodge mix of global carrier networks, contract restrictions and phone locks that keep phone manufacturers in business, but there’s more. It’s an enormous mess of promises no one’s keeping, or could possibly ever hope to keep. In fact, it’s so bad that typical government ineffectiveness reaches new heights in terms of unnecessary, ineffective, and outright questionable regulation.

A great example of this is the fact that opening postal mail to scan the contents is more than a bit illegal, while scanning the contents of an email or SMS message is perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re using that information to sell ads (what?). In fact, Google championed that cause, you know, the guys who make that awesomely ineffective OS that every phone manufacture on the planet has customized beyond usability? It, like Android, was all done in the name of selling more ads, by tricking you into giving up more of your information, but that’s just one side of things (more on Google later).

The other side of things is a bit shadier.

An unofficial cadre of brand advocates, brand terrorists, and brand mercenaries runs the other side of cell phone marketing. Just like McDonalds is reported to pay some bloggers upwards of £15,000 a year to blog, these are people who have been paid to lie to you. They lie either because they have been paid to lie; they are fanatics about their chosen product (think: Lord of the Flies – the book, not the movie); or they’re just plain evil genius and want your advertising dollars. Let’s take the recent iPhone BendGate stories, which many a sucker bit into, blindly retweeting and sharing without even having the slightest idea of what goes into making and stress testing a phone. Before you go thinking we’re Apple fanatics, that’s not the case. We just appreciate evil genius.

You see, mobile phone marketers, like any other kind of marketer, prey on a combination of ignorance, fear, and outright stupidity on part of consumers. They also generally lack ethics. This lets companies expand brand awareness, while maintaining distance from anything that might go sideways (lack of ethics). That isn’t to say that these companies don’t have their own dog and pony shows, as anyone who has kept tabs on the Apple and Samsung wars knows. Rather, it’s to say that companies can turn marketing experiments out into the wild, without fear of direct repercussion.

To take the BendGate example, a guy who had bent other phones decided to put a sensationalist spin on his own little experiment. That was pure evil genius (and maybe he got paid too, who knows?). What we do know is that he got huge views, and was noticed by everyone and their brother (or sister) around the world. In fact, he got about 55 million views in a month. That’s more than 1,800,000 views a day, or about 1,200 views a minute.

Are you familiar with Google AdSense?

Yes, back to Google. You see, they pay people who run their ads based on CPM, which is the payment value per thousand ads views (like the evil geniuses at BendGate). While CPM, varies considerably, a safe estimate is about £2, but we’ll knock that down and assume the BendGate guys had an extremely low CPM of £1.00 per thousand ads (honestly, it’s much more, but we’re using kid gloves here, so bear with us). Now, take 55 million YouTube views divided by the 1,000 views it takes to make £1 in our experiment. That gives us a nice easy number of 55,000 – or £55,000 in ad revenue from the BendGate story.

That adds up to 80 iPhone 6 phones (you know, the £700 a piece 128G ones)

So yeah, a bunch of clowns got on the bandwagon and pumped a huge chunk of change into a guy who also happens to be reselling hosting in his YouTube signature, with a discount code, of course. That’s absolutely something worth buying into, right? He’s not alone though. There are happy families using the crappy service of second rate UK phone companies in every ad you see, buying into plans with modified phone operating systems choked by bloat ware (yay Android), and users with blazingly fast download speeds that mysteriously don’t work for anyone else, or anywhere else.

People in these adverts seamlessly pay for things with their mobiles, make calls, or instantly receive messages, which don’t usually ever work that way. Even when they do work, it’s hit or miss, and we as consumers have lined up for it in droves. You’d think we loved it, because every time an unbelievable claim comes out, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 having an impossibly long battery life, it’s taken as gospel by most folks. They only later find out that they were sold a lemon, but to admit that, they’d have to face the fact that they were swindled.

In other words, we’re all wearing the Emperor’s new clothes, and they were sold to us by the mobile industry. Since none of us want to complain too much, we instead target those who have legitimate claims that highlight our own stupidity, and single those poor suckers out. If you broke the screen on your phone, it’s because you must have done something wrong – not because just maybe phones could be made a little better. Of course, none of this is to say that there isn’t a healthy dose of human ignorance and stupidity at play too. Instead, it’s to say that we’ve bought into a lower quality of product. We accept it, and just like Windows operating systems that don’t work, or impossibly difficult to root and update Android phones, we’re generally ok with that. At least, as long as it’s the next chap picking up the tab.

So, the next time a cell phone company tells you something, instead of focusing on the shiny device in front of you, ask yourself if they’re making plausible claims. Don’t just buy or believe something because it looks good, or has a nice wrapper. Do your homework, or ask us to do it for you (we take article requests), and pay attention to the fine print. You’ll thank yourself (and us) for it later.

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For Apple, “Bendgate” has proven to be a blip on the radar, a lapse, a momentary embarrassment. Even though their big new phone bent, so famously, in a number of widely seen internet videos, the so-called scandal has done nothing to diminish the mobile device’s swollen market share. In fact, sales of the 6 are set to match or exceed those of the 5 and its variants from this time last year. In fact, Apple, and their newly publicly out CEO Tim Cook, seem totally nonplussed.

In the 3rd quarter of 2013, between 10 and 15% of all phones sold in the US were 6+s. This is all the more surprising, because that figure was achieved with this phone being available only for the final two weeks of that quarter. This is all the more startling because, despite the comical bending, Apple faced other challenges with their new, larger phone. Supplies were sold out nearly instantly, Apple struggling to meet demand. iPhones, including older versions, represented nearly 50% of all phones sold in the past month and a half. Final numbers from the most recent quarter have yet to materialize, but Apple has been explicit that over 10 million of their mobile phone products were sold since the most recent iPhone released.

And Apple is only doubling down. By the end of this month, Apple will have launched iPhone 6 in 36 new countries. When one considers that over half of the world still has no direct access to these products, the potential for growth is enormous, and Apple seems poised to seize the day. This flies in the face of prophets of doom who felt sure that the company would implode following the death of founder Steve Jobs. In reality, it seems that it’s business (world conquering business) as usual.

The iPhone 6 available from Virgin Media and other carriers has achieved all of these totals as the most expensive iPhone offering yet. Without a contract, consumers can (and do) pay over $750 for one of the 6+ models, but it seems to discourage no one. Their contracted models are even one hundred dollars cheaper than flagship models in earlier iterations. Where, exactly, is the ceiling?

Of course, iPhone is so much more than a phone. With this, and the introduction of their new watch device, Apple seeks to unify much of a person’s daily habits onto a single device. For those of us who could nary be separated from our mobiles for even a few minutes, the devices’ popularity is not difficult to understand. While competitors Samsung and others continue to command significant market share, it seems Apple’s industry to define and innovate. And they’re managed to survive for at least one more product cycle.

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Technology is advancing so fast that every year there are bigger and better choices when it comes to what computer system to buy. This is especially true when it comes to computer gaming systems.

Computer manufacturers are always updating graphics cards and processor speeds and adding more RAM to their systems in hopes of making it THE computer that will make gamers feel a part of the games they play. If you’re in need of the newest tech for gaming, here’s a look at some of the best bets in gaming laptops that can be purchased right now.

MSI Gt72 Dominator Pro

dominator-pro

Best price: $1,999.99 (via newegg)

The MSI Gt72 Dominator Pro is a high quality gaming laptop for the basic computer user. The processing speed is fast without reaching supersonic speeds.

What I say first when see this laptop is GTX 980M! It’s the first mobile graphics solution to reach a score over 10,000 in 3DMark11*!

One more bonus: offering replaceable MXM graphics module, the GT72 is more flexible when it comes to future upgrades.

When you consider the high quality graphics card, the high processor speed and the affordability factor, the MSI Gt72 Dominator Pro is a gaming laptop to keep an eye on.

Razer Blade Pro

razer-blade-pro

 

Best price: $2,349.99 (via Amazon)

Whether you are a serious or casual gamer, the Razer Blade Pro offers you a great computer gaming system. The best features of the Razer Blade Pro are: the future 4th gen Intel® Core™ processors formerly known as Maxwell, next generation NVIDIA® GeForce GTX® graphics, and a faster solid state drive.

It’s a thin, lightweight laptop.

The Razer Blade Pro has a multi-touch LCD Track-panel, which provides gamers with the image quality they are looking for in a computer gaming system.

Alienware 18

alienware-18

Best price: $2,081.99 (via Dealpursue and Bestbuy)

With the right upgrades and added features the Alienware 18 can be the perfect gaming system.

Some of the great extra goodies include 4th generation Intel® Core i7 processors and 4.4GHz blazing speeds. With an 18″ Full HD panel you’ll be ready to game without sacrifice. Aletrnatively, you can plug in to an external 3D TV for theater-style gaming experience.

The customizable features of the Alienware 18 allow gamers to make sure they’re getting the system they want without having to purchase items that aren’t needed.

The ability to pick the graphics card, processor speed and RAM size of their choice seems to be the popular trend amongst purchasers of gaming laptop systems. With this unique ability to customize gaming laptops, many fans just might decide that this is the right time to make that dream purchase.

What’s your choice?

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More than just a Mobile Provider or ISP, Virgin Media provides the stuff with which people fill their time. They are the largest provider of broadband internet, mobile and home phone operations, and television in the UK. Though managed in the US (NYC) and not part of the original mega-corporation founded by Sir Richard, the company operates under the larger Virgin auspice, benefiting from its identification with one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

The company has been around since 2006, but under a different name. When NTL and Telewest merger, they became a new company. And they called it: “NTL:Telewest”. Just a couple of months later, they were to merge with UK media giant Virgin Mobile UK. As an acquisition, NTL:Telewest was as strategic as it was useful. With them on board, Virgin Mobile became so much more than a mobile company. Now they could provide television, phones, and internet, as well as all of the sideline services these main categories contain. The whole swarm of services became known as Virgin Media in 2007. Stockholders rejoiced. Richard Branson’s smile gleamed.

Some of Virgin Media’s advantages are not well known. For one, they possess the UK’s only nation-spanning fiber-optic network of cables. Simply put, they can be everywhere for everyone, and no other company can. By the end of 2012, they had nearly 5 million customers for cable, a single channel through which they could pump all of their services. This is a profound change in the landscape of service providers. In days of yore, each service had a markedly different mode of delivery, but with innovation and a single nervous system of fiber-optics, Virgin was able to be everything to everyone.

Because of their ties to the US and because their stock is traded primarily on the NASDAQ, few doubt that the company will try to have a similar portion of market share in America. Perhaps the brand will one day be subsumed into an international mega-provider. Their competition in the States, like Comcast, certainly is trying for the same level of exposure, and in tech, common wisdom says that there is only ever one winner. Only time will tell, but the efficiency, speed, and confidence with which they have become the UK’s largest SP leaves little doubt that they could make trouble for the much-maligned Comcast.

Virgin Media has shown its talent at absorbing and dominating new technologies. In a consumer landscape where a new device or technological behavior has only to emerge for days before it is adopted by millions, Virgin is uniquely poised to own these new markets. The next frontier is almost certainly international, not just America but emerging economies like India, and softening international relation conditions like China. The future is unknown, but whatever it is, Virgin will be a player.

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nsa

The National Security Agency has hardly been out of the news since the leak of internal documents revealed the extent of its online operations. Here’s our guide to what’s known about the agency’s Internet monitoring and how you should respond.

Where did the leaks come from?

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden left his post and shared an extensive collection of internal NSA documents with several newspapers. They then checked through the documents, consulted security officials where appropriate to see if their publication would constitute a genuine threat to security, then published them one by one over time. That’s in sharp contrast to outlets such as WikiLeaks which simply make entire collections of documents public without filtering.

Are the leaks reliable?

Naturally officials have been reluctant to publicly confirm any of the claims in the reports are true. However, both the newspapers that dealt with Snowden and other media outlets that reported on the stories say trusted sources confirm the documents as genuine.

What do the leaks reveal?

The big revelation was the existence of PRISM, a program by which the NSA gathers large amounts of data (much of it supposedly private) that travels through the servers of major US tech firms such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. The documents suggested the NSA had the ability to retrieve data directly from the companies rather than have to ask the companies to hand it over.

While many people assumed security agencies collect Internet data, the most fundamental shock in the revelations was that the NSA appears not to simply pick a target and then begin monitoring specific communications for evidence. Instead it seems its general policy is to gather as much data as possible about all users, store it on a long-term basis, then look back through the data as and when it selects a target individual. In other words, it stores data even when it doesn’t yet have any reason to believe it may be evidence.

The NSA later revealed to Congress that its collection of data allows it to carry out a “three hop query”. This means that once it identifies a target, it can retrieve all communications the target had with contacts, all communications those contacts had with other people, and then all communications those other people had with anyone else.

Were Google and company complicit?

It’s hard to say. Most firms involved have vigorously denied allowing the NSA access to their data. The problem is that they may be under secret court orders that ban them from admitting they have allowed access.

Am I safe in the US? Surely the constitution protects Americans?

In theory, the Fourth Amendment should mean the government can’t read American citizens’ e-mails without a court order based on reasonable cause for suspicion. When the story broke, government officials insisted security staff could not look at domestic communications unless they had a warrant.

It later emerged that the system the NSA created took advantage of a major legal loophole. The rules under which the NSA operates (laid down by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) allow security staff to examine the contents of an intercepted e-mail solely to check whether it is domestic or foreign, and thus whether either party can be monitored without a warrant.

However, if the security staff do notice anything suspicious during this check they can permanently store and use the e-mail as evidence, even though it was gathered without a warrant.

Is Prism the only project uncovered by the leaks?

No, another leaked document revealed Project Optic Nerve, in which the NSA was habitually intercepting Yahoo webcam chats and capturing a still image from the video every five minutes, whether or not the participants were under suspicion. The spies got a bit of a surprise from doing this as around seven percent of the images featured “undesirable nudity”!

I’ve done nothing wrong. Should I be worried about the NSA?

This is really something of a philosophical issue. From a purely practical perspective, the NSA may have data on you, but it’s highly unlikely it will have the time or inclination to do anything with it unless it has cause to suspect you of being a security threat. From a principled perspective, you may certainly believe the NSA gathering data on you is a breach of your rights and reject the old line that “you’ve got nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide.”

It’s worth noting that the NSA doesn’t just follow-up evidence of illegal activity. For example, a memo in the Snowden files shows staff considering leaking records that suspected Islamic terrorists had (legally) accessed pornographic websites in an attempt to discredit them among their followers.

What can I do to keep my data secret? Is it practical to do so?

This is really a balancing act between security/secrecy and privacy. There are three main practical tools you could consider using.

1) TOR, or The Onion Router. This is free software that helps disguise your web browsing. It does so by changing the way your data travels to and from a website by routing it through hundreds of different computers, making it much harder and more time-consuming to trace. It doesn’t guarantee privacy, but does mean security agency staff will have to be very determined to find out what you are up to. One big downside is that it can slow down your traffic, particularly when using filesharing services.

2) Encrypt your e-mail. There are plenty of services out there for this, the best-known being Pretty Good Privacy. Encryption means anyone intercepting your e-mail won’t be able to read it, but it only works if both the sender and recipient are using the same system. Be wary of encryption services from large security software firms as it’s suspected some of them may be set up to allow the NSA a “backdoor” to access the messages without encryption.

3) Use secure web connections. Tools such as browser plug-in HTTPS Everywhere will make sure your connection to a website is automatically secure whenever a site supports it. That gives you the same protection against interception by snoopers that you get when connecting to services such as online banking.

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Hand holding smart phone playing angry birds
Image Credit: BigStock Photo

Designing an app for an iPhone or Android requires lots of work and dedication. The end product gives you pride and is worth the hours put into it, but another important step in building apps is getting users. This requires promoting the app through word of mouth and other methods.

When promoting an app, the trick is to make yours stand out amongst the hundreds of thousands of other apps. Here are a few methods that may help you get the word out about your app:

1) YouTube ads. Sure, they can be annoying when you’re trying to watch a video – but if you make a short, 20 to 30 second ad that will catch the viewer’s attention, you’re reaching a huge demographic. It can get pricy, but if your company can afford to pay for them, they are beyond worth it.

These ads reach millions of people each day and if yours is well-designed and not annoying, you’ll have people downloading your app every hour.

2) Conventions. Each year, there are hundreds of tech conventions all over the country. The most popular and widely attended is probably the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Attending these conventions is a great way to gain exposure in the tech world, and you can numberswiki.com

give away promotional products from places like QualityLogoProducts.

This will make your app memorable so people actually go home and use it. This will also help with word of mouth promotions, as people will tell their friends if they have reminders with them such as stress relievers and pens with your app’s logo on them.

3) Social media. This may be the most important step in promoting your app. Making a Facebook and Twitter for your app is extremely vital in a world that depends on technology and people are attached to their laptops or iPhones at all times. Gaining “likes” and followers on these platforms will show how popular the app is becoming, and paying for Facebook ads will also gather more users.

Did you know the Angry Birds Twitter has almost 600,000 followers? As people download the app, they’ll want access to statuses and updates concerning it if there are any changes made – so keep the Facebook page and Twitter updated at all times. Not only does it expand the ground covered for your app, it makes your company relatable.

There are tons more ways to promote your app, but these are just a few. What ways do you promote your apps and gadgets? Tell us in the comments.

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Going green is not merely fashionable these days…it is a huge trend, which no industry and no company wants to miss. Dutch tech giant Philips is not stepping out of line and has just introduced its greenest TV, the Econova 42 PFL6805.

So why should tree huggers want to buy this device? Well, for starters, the TV just won a prize for being the most environmentally friendly television in Europe. While running in Eco Mode, the TV does not use more than 40 watts of power, as confirmed through a test conducted by the Judicial Committee of the EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association).

This is mainly due to elaborate LED technology that powers background lightning. It consumes much less energy than ordinary fluorescent lamps. Philips has also paid attention to details while creating this TV, such as the advanced remote control that is charged by solar energy.

First seen at the IFA in Berlin, the Philips Econova 42 PFL6805 is now available for sale everywhere.

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Do you enjoy playing Mahjong? If so, check out:

www.mahjonged.com

…to play online or access other game resources, such as books, info, rules, tiles, history, glossary, etc. You can play directly online from:

www.mahjonged.com/mahjonged.html

The online game features a couple different face options, four different tile sets, audio, 150 levels, high scores, and a level editor.

The site is an all around resource for Mahjong, both online and physical tiles. Check it out!

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Algadon Free Online RPGWe last wrote about Mafia MoFo.nbsp; Today wersquo;re looking at a a free online game called Algadon. It is similar to Mafia MoFo in some ways, though it seems to take the best features from numerous online games and add in its own unique features to comprise an excellent new creation. Algadon is medieval fantasy themed, which is an excellent alternative to all the mafia style games. When you begin playing, you can choose between 14 different character classes (two more options become available to you after you have logged in).nbsp; They all have different characteristics and benefits. The main differences are the energy gained every 5 minutes, the energy cap, and gold income. The sorcerer and sorceress can use spells, while the other character classes use weapons and armor. In Algadon, not only can you battle other players, but you can also battle bosses. New bosses become available as you level up, and you get more gold and increasingly better item drops from the newer bosses. You also receive an experience bonus when defeating a boss. If no other players are attacking a boss, it can be a challenge to beat them since they have high HP, but it is certainly a worthwhile option, especially with the item drops. You can also place bounties on other players and perform quests (where you can also get item drops). When playing Algadon, new weapons, armor, and spells become available as you level up. It’s important to always get the best equipment possible as they’re a great help in defeating bosses and other players. In Algadon, you can join up and play with other members in a clan, or go on your own. If you decide to join a clan, you can interact with other players in the clan through a private message board, gain access to clan gold, etc. When you deposit gold into a bank account, you can earn interest on the banked gold, and clan gold also gains interest. Players can send private messages to one another, post messages on another player’s public profile, and more. A very important thing to remember when playing Algadon is to search for treasure every day. You will receive free royal credits, which you can use to refill energy or save up to obtain special items. Check it out! If you enjoy the type of online game, we’re certain you’ll enjoy Algadon, even more so if you’re a fan of the medieval fantasy genre.

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Mafia MoFoRecently, there has been a lot of activity with online mafia / mobster games, from the problems with Mafia Wars to the launch of Bulletproof, New Mafia, and more.  You may be asking why you would care about yet another mafia game.

Mafia MoFo sets itself apart from the rest in several ways.  Mafia MoFo is not a MySpace game, which generally makes it more easily accessible, without the performance issues associated with Myspace.  However, what really sets Mafia MoFo apart from the rest is the amount of entertaining activities that are available.  Mafia MoFo is miles ahead of the other games in this regard.  Some of the virtual properties and activities available include a pharmacy for buying drugs, real estate purchasing (house and land), equipment shop, pawn shop, black market, point shop, used car lot, bus station, ability to drive to another city (if you have a car), jobs, hire a private investigator, stock market, gambling (lottery, slot machine, and 50/50 game), and more.  Players increase stats by working out in the gym.  Numerous crime jobs are available to increase experience and earn cash.  Of course, fighting is also available, as well as a hitlist.  The game is further enhanced with interactive contests and events that award prizes, such as a medal or other special item.  On top of all that, the job outcomes and other messages displayed throughout the game are humorous and very enjoyable, making the entire game experience pleasant and relaxed.

The game is brand new.  Therefore, it is being enhanced vigorously with new features and improvements.  Soon the game will feature the same fight list style familiar from other mafia games.  Since the game has just launched, new players are all the game really needs to be a big success and highly enjoyable for all players.  Come check it out!  The most important thing to concentrate on in the beginning is performing crime jobs to advance your level and working out in the gym.  By the time you’re ready to battle it out, perhaps the new fight system will already be in place!  So, get started building up your character so that once it is available, you will be ready!  Of course, you can also fight now from any player’s page in the meantime, if you so choose.  On one last note, be sure to check out the "How to Play" tutorial under the Account section.  If contains valuable information all players need to know.  Mafia MoFo is a bit different from the others, but easy to play once you get the hang of things.  Of course, the differences it features are what make the game as great as it is!

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