Category Archives: Technology

A Bit of Andrew Torba on Apple App Vetting


GAB CEO Andrew Torba on Apple App Vetting

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What Difference the Clinton E-Mails Makes


Carly Fiorina impeaches Hillary Clinton's Email Shrouding

 

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A Bit on Whether Hillary Clinton Was Technologically Challenged


During Hillary Clinton’s brief media appearance at the United Nations, President Obama’s first Secretary of State claimed that the kerfluffle concerning Hillary’s emails stemmed from the fact that she did not want to carry two smartphones to have two separate email accounts.
Syncophants in the press, like MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, sought to sympathize with Hillary’s alibi by suggesting that older people are overwhelmed by technology.

 

The problem is that but a fortnight ago, Hillary Clinton admitted that today she carries both an iPhone as well as a Blackberry.  So Special Ed’s technologically challenged excuse both rings false as well as suggesting that the 67 year old Mrs, Clinton is not quite with it.

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Some of F.C.C. Commissioner’s Comments on Net Neutrality


FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly on Net Neutrality
While speaking at the non-partisan Free State Foundation’s policy forum, Republican F.C.C. Commissioner Mike O’Reilly explained  some of the consequences of President Obama’s “modest proposal” regarding Net Neutrality.

A Bit on Deals for Data Hungry Cellular Customers


Now that the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile has fallen through, the underdog cellular companies are jockeying for better position in the marketplace.

It used to be that voice minutes were the pivot but now unlimited talk time is not that unusual.  The battlefield shifted to texting, in which major players would force consumers to buy bulk messages to avoid being niggled with incremental costs for individual texts.  Now the concentration is on data.

 

T Mobile magenta

T-Mobile pushed unlimited data earlier in 2014, but this claim had caveats.  T-Mobile included 500 mb of unlimited data at 4G LTE speed, but afterwards the speed dropped down to 2G level, which was OK for slowly opening e-mails but not really adequate for Web 2.0.  Thus consumers faced adding on data packages along with base $50 for talk and text.  There are three added tiers for T-Mobile data, an extra $10 for 3GB, +$20 for 5GB and +$30 for “unlimited” data.  Add on taxes and fees, consumers could expect to pay around $71, $83 and $95 respectively for their tiered talk/text and data plans. That does not represent a lot of savings for individuals  from the so called Un-Carrier.
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Sprint

Sprint is rolling out what it terms “disruptive pricing”along with the prospect of unlimited 4G LTE data to grow its market share.  Sprint killed the “Framily” plan but replaced it with a temporary “New Day for Data” deal which data hungry cellular customers should like.  Through September 30, 2014, Sprint will allow four lines with unlimited talk/text and 20 GB of data (plus an extra 2 GB per line until the end of 2014) for $100 a month.  Plus Sprint will pay up to $350 in termination fees.  That sounds great, but the devil is in the details.

 

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So if you are a seriously heavy data user and need mobile data outside of major cities, Sprint may have a deal for you–but beware as the good times only last for so long.  And good luck keeping the terms straight.

Data driven consumers may also wish to consider a Mobile Virtual Network Operator on the Sprint network called FreedomPop.

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FreedomPop

FreedomPop now offers LTE Phones (Samsung Galaxy 4, Galaxy SIII and Victory) with unlimited talk/text and data for $19.99, but their idea of unlimited is 1 GB at 4G LTE and then governed down to 3G speeds for the remainder.  FreedomPop also has a deal for “unlimited” data on tablets. FreedomPop is selling the iPad Mini and the Galaxy 3 tab which are refurbished 7″ tablets with 4G LTE which also participate in the $19.99 unlimited talk/text and governed data but with mobile hotspot enabled.

 

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Many of the self-selected digerati may scoff at Sprint, T-Mobile and a MVNO claiming that their data speed sucks.  Fine, then pay a premium for Verizon Wireless and have a paltry bucket of data.  AT and T also is parsimonious about doling out data and extra use really is costly.

All consumers need to make the right choice for them.  Speed and coverage can be important factors in choosing cell providers.  But the bottom line also drives decision-making for thrifty techies.

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It seems that there are no easy answer for data hungry cellular consumers but only trade offs.

 

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A Bit of Why We Should Disconnect to Connect






The world is awash in technology and many ordinary people have succumbed to symptoms of technology addiction.  Nomophobia is a neurosis named in a study commissioned by the UK post office to examine anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. Mashable reports that 38% of college students feel compelled to check their mobile device every TEN minutes. 



This obsession with cyber space makes techno-junkies oblivious to the real world around them. Geeks will log on each morning before they brush their teeth. Stupid pedestrians cross busy streets staring at their mobile screens while being oblivious to dangerous oncoming traffic.  It is sad to see adults dining in public persistently using their cell phone “phubbing” their social company in favor of connections in the cloud.





For me, the depths of technology addition was witnessed at an amusement park where a young lady took her i-Phone into a wave pool.  She was not just wearing a waterproof neck pouch to protect her handset from water. Nor was this techno-teen taking a quick selfie to boast on social media.  This person had the intense thumb typing rhythm of a text chat while chest deep in the cresting waves.  Even this Thrifty Techie finds such behavior disordered.



A Thai cellular provider used an interesting ad  to illustrate the dangers of technology addiction with their video  “Disconnect to Connect”.











As wonderful as that message is, it bears consideration how I got that message.  It was an intriguing post from a Facebook friend who I have only briefly met once  “in real life”.  So in reality, I was inspired by a cyber-connection.  But to use a Doug Coupland conceit from his seminal book Generation X (1991) , it would be a mistake to rely on an internet “Air Family” as opposed to maintaining real relationships

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Some Tablet Tribulations


 

The HP TouchPad Fire Sale

It seems like a time to reassess my mobile computing needs.  I have a three year old HP Touchpad, which … is long in the tooth, along with a stillborn WebOS  and a dwindling cost conscious counterintutive fan base for support.  While I could continue to muddle along with relying upon a HP Touchpad, it is the content creation criteria which causes me to look elsewhere.

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I have been a long time enthusiast about the Amazon Kindle, particularly the E-Ink devices.  My  Generation 2 device with 3G Whispernet, affectionally dubbed “Striker”, has served me well since 2010.  But the battery is going.  While batteries for the Kindle can be acquired, I am leery about installing it myself and I can not readily convince computer geeks to do it for me.

The easy answer would be to upgrade but that is not the right answer for me.  I inherited a Kindle Generation 3 with WiFi, which is better for reading but I can not use it for internet access to text based web sites without WiFi as can be done with a Gen 2 reader.

Upgrading to a Kindle Paperwhite has drawbacks.  Now even the 3G Paperwhite only allows access to Wikipedia and the Amazon site, so I wonder why would people pay the extra $50?  Moreover, Amazon has eliminated the headphone option on their E-Ink devices along with the Text to Speech ability.  That was a deal breaker for me. There are times when I want to consume the written word, but I can’t have my eyes on the screen.  But this “read to me” capability exists in two forms for the Kindle Fire.

As a consumer reward, I was able to get my eager hands on a Kindle Fire 2.

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Despite having a few different bluetooth keyboards which could be paired with the Kindle Fire 2, the  7″ screen along with the available applications fails to  make it into a productivity device. And one of the supplemental cases which combines a bluetooth keyboard with a case makes the tablet seem bulky, which defeats the purpose of mobile computing. While I definitely anticipate using the Kindle Fire HD 2, its use will likely be as a supplemental reader and a visual content consuming device.

My digital discernment is that I should have a content creation mobile device.  Even though  smartphones are getting bigger displays, I do not think that such Phablets (phone tablets), lend themselves to prolonged productivity in mobile computing.   I am not looking for a laptop replacement as I already have a Windows 7 laptop, which suits my needs and runs software which will not work in a tablet environment.  Thus I want something in between a laptop and a tablet– a laplet.

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These criteria leave room for the Microsoft Surface RT.  The 10.6″ 16×9 screen is large enough for immersive video viewing, but is also a good size for productivity without becoming unwieldy.  The draw of the Surface RT is to have a complimentary full suite of Office 2013 RT available (the O/S upgrade includes Windows 8.1. and Outlook).  But as an Ultraportable tablet to optimize productivity, it requires the keyboard cover.

The original price point for the Surface 32 RT was $499 with a $119 add on for the keyboard (or $699 for the 64GB with keyboard bundled)  which put it in the iPad price point, which was overpriced for the market.  Currently there are great deals on manufacturer refurbished Surface RT units.  When one can have a 64 GB unit for 1/3rd of the original MSRP through popular auction sites, it is worth considering by the Thrifty Techie.

 

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Bill Murray on Reading


Bill Murray

A Bit About Who Is the Thrifty Techie


Perhaps I can be considered a rara avis by technology standards.  I relish technologies, but resist getting the
latest and greatest.  I have consistently opted for lesser popular products which better met my needs.
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This technical preamble serves to stipulate that I have never owned an Apple product.  No Macs, no iPods, no iPhones
and no iPads.  When I tried out the  Apple LISA  in the early 1980s, I was not totally enchanted by the GUI interface, yet I appreciate howsome may be swayed by having
having an easy to use screen.  I thrice tried installing iTunes on a PC but found that the software tried to take over the CPU so I uninstalled it. From a bottom line perspective, Apple
products tend to cost much more than their counterparts because it is a vertically integrated company so they charge a premium for sleek designs “which just work”. For iPods, Apple took over 70% of the market,
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When tablets first came out, they started at $600 which was way too much for a Thrifty Techie. So I was happy to get my HP Touchpad at 1/3 of the price.  HP tried pricing their WebOS tablet the same
price-point as iPods so few sold.  After 10 weeks of stagnant sales, HP decided to withdraw from the tablet marketplace and had a fire sales.  Although logistics prevented me from buying a bottom of the barrel price, I was happy with what I paid.  I knew that the OS was stillborn,
but believed that it had enough apps to be useful.  I termed that HP Touchpad tablet purchase as “turning into a torpedo”.  Three years later, I am happily using the tablet.  There are some challenges with not having new apps, but it still suits my purposes for quite a while.


I have  been a longtime ebook reader enthusiast.  I got in when the $300 price point was cut in half via refurbishments. At the time, Sony, Kobo (via Borders), the Nook (via Barnes and Noble) and Kindle (via Amazon) were the choices.   Aside from
assessing the ebook hardware,  ebook reader purchasers must really also include what merchant from whom you want to be locked into buying.  I chose Amazon
and never regretted it.  Their customer service, particularly for the Kindle, has been fantastic.  I have perhaps a thousand books but have only really purchased a score of them since Kindle readers often have promos available.    With the Kindle, some great features are constantly added yet some desirable features have been
discontinued on certain models (switching batteries, adding external memory,
unbridled Whispernet, text-to-speech) so upgrading is not always an easy
choice.It is interesting that several technology providers which I chose had brief market lives.  But with the rapidity of change in technology and the planned obsolescence, one should not plan that any particular technology to be forever viable, no matter how well kept it is.

What this techno retrospective has demonstrated is that this Thrifty Techie thinks outside of the box when choosing technology based upon his utility analysis.  This Thifty Techie is an inveterate bargain hunter but who knows that the lowest price is not always the best bargain.  By assessing features and pairing them with desired abilities, he can determine when it is better to hold onto a gadget or appreciate that one is sinking good money after bad on an
item.

May the Thrifty-Techie.us help you discern what is the best choice for you.

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Some of Why Thrifty-Techie.US?


 

 
 
We live in a time where technology can overwhelm us. Perhaps 15% of the population are early adopters, who relish paying top dollar to get a shiny new techno toy which is supposedly the latest and greatest. The most devoted to this cult will camp out for days to be amongst
the first in line to get a newly released gadget.  There are plenty of places where these gadget
geeks can satisfy their techno lust.
Toward the other end of the technology spectrum, there are people could jocularly be
referred to as  neo-Luddites who do not consider technology a priority and may be a hindrance to living well.  Yet  few people  actually live without gadgets. Their lack of understanding and interest in technology sometimes traps them into a modus operendi which is both expensive and inefficient.
While I appreciate the onslaught of new technology, I want to find solutions which give
the most bang for the buck.