Thursday, December 29, 2016

T-Mobile has officially killed all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones - Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will do the same next week.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 holdouts will soon have dead phones.

T-Mobile released an update yesterday to prevent Note 7 users from charging devices, rendering them useless. Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will roll out similar updates next week.

The move will force the hands of those who have not yet traded in the faulty device to finally get an alternative.

Samsung announced the US based battery killing program earlier in this month. Verizon initially said it wouldn't participate due to "added risk" for users without alternate phones, but the company changed its mind and will push an update on January 5.

Carriers killing the Note 7 is the grand finale of the exploding phone debacle that began with a massive recall of Samsung's flagship devices. In September, the company recalled millions of Note 7 phones after a battery issue caused some to catch fire or even explode.

Most users already exchanged their phones. According to Samsung, about 93% of Note 7 devices have been returned in the US.

Samsung also limited the Note 7 battery charging in Canada earlier this month. The devices are currently unable connect to any Canadian mobile network.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Tech we lost 2016: RIP Vine, the headphone jack, Galaxy Note7, the VCR, the Nexus Brand, and Pebble smart watch.

This year gave us some of our favorite tech yet, but it wasn't good news for all.

As with every year, companies went out of business, apps shut down and tech toys disappeared from store shelves for good.

The Headphone Jack

Yes, technically the 3.5mm jack is still around, but Apple's "courageous"
decision to jettison the venerable audio port from the iPhone 7 is already inspiring other manufacturers (HTC and Motorola among them) to do the same. Its days are definitely numbered.

The vision of a wireless future in which headphones no longer tether us to our devices, providing audio connections that are crystal-clear and reliable is compelling. But in the present, it's hard to see this cordless nirvana through all the dongles.


Vine’s death came as no surprise to the community of creators who for a long time called it their creative home. But many were still disappointed when Twitter announced plans to axe the video app it acquired in 2013. In its heyday, many big name digital influencers rose to fame thanks to Vine. However, Twitter recently said it plans to keep Vine alive (kind of) with a pared-down Vine Camera app.

Galaxy Note7

For a brief moment, Samsung was unstoppable. The company launched its Galaxy Note7 to glowing reviews. Mashable even called it the best smartphone on the planet
before rescinding its Mashable Choice award. The Note7 had everything you could want in a beautiful, premium phone, including a headphone jack. But the ambitious phone, aimed at taking down Apple's iPhone 7, literally went up in flames almost as fast as it rocketed to the top.

Defective batteries and an extremely ambitious design with tight tolerances are believed to be the causes for the Note7's death. Though we’ll never know if the Note7 would have turned the tide in Android’s favor, here’s to hoping Samsung learned some valuable lessons and the Note 8 is a safer phone for all.


If you've never had to handle a VCR tape before, you're missing out. In July, Japan's Funai Electric, the world's last surviving VCR maker, wound down its production of the dated video cassette recording format 40 years after the first VCR was made.

Funai, which started making VCRs 30 years ago, used to sell tens of millions of the devices at the format's peak, but could only move 750,000 last year. VCRs were a hallmark of home recording, allowing people to tape what was airing on TV. In the '90s, it's been estimated that 95 percent of U.S. homes had one.

Nexus Brand

Sorry Android enthusiasts, it looks like there will never be another Nexus-branded phone. Launched back in 2010 with the Nexus One, the brand that was once synonymous with Google and Android is no more. With the launch of the Pixel phones this year, Google made it clear it no longer wants to share the spotlight with its hardware partners.


The watch that “kickstarted” the smartwatch craze is no more. What started out as a simple idea turned into a movement and eventually became the poster boy for Kickstarter.

Despite launching a new generation of smartwatches this July and holding the record for three of the four most funded Kickstarter projects of all time, Pebble’s days were numbered as the company struggled to stay afloat. Fitbit ended up scooping it up , but even that company wasn't interested in Pebble's hardware.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Facebook is finally taking action against fake news!

After an election season infused with hoax stories, more than a month of global outcry and at least one real-world incident of gun violence in the US, Facebook is finally stepping up to combat the spread of fake news. 

The social network has announced that it will work with fact-checking outlets to label fake stories, flagged by users, as “disputed.”
Now before sharing a fake story on the site, you’ll get a warning that its accuracy has been disputed. To find out why, you’ll be able to click a link for a fact-check of the article.

The updates are rolling out this week, so you won’t see the disputed flags right away, but expect them shortly.

Facebook also announced several other steps that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had hinted at in a post last month.

It’s too early to know whether these efforts will be effective in combating the problem, which is perhaps larger in scope than many initially realized.

The company is finally coming to terms with the fake news problem. For now, Facebook will be working only with Snopes,, Politifact, ABC News and the Associated Press, but hopes to add more as the site figures out what works.

While other sites, including Reddit and Twitter, have made some moves recently to combat fake news and vile trolling, Facebook is the last one to do so.

With its 1.8 billion monthly users, Facebook is a critical platform for news distribution. News websites now get a majority of their traffic from Facebook, as internet users switch from visiting home pages on desktops to using apps on their mobile devices. In the U.S., 44% of American adults get news on Facebook (source).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Important Yahoo warning - close down any Yahoo accounts you have NOW!

Yahoo just announced another security breach where a whopping billion accounts were hacked. This is the second time in a matter of months that Yahoo has announced a security breach - what an epic fail! This latest hack is being hailed the largest in history, according to CNBC (source).

The forensic investigation is still going on, but it is highly likely that the bad guys initially got in through a spear phishing attack with a spoofed 'From' address. These types of attacks are hard to spot and employees tend to fall for them. 

At this point, Yahoo has fallen down on security in so many ways that we are now advising all our clients who have an active Yahoo email account, either direct with Yahoo of via a partner like AT&T, get rid of it. And in case you have employees who check their Yahoo account on lunch breaks... it's time to put Yahoo on the block list of your firewall and all filtering software & devices.

Here's some hints and tips for Yahoo account owners....
  1. Before you delete the account, get rid of all the folders and only then delete the account and open a free gmail account instead.
  2. Check if you have used your Yahoo password in other sites, and change the password and security questions for those accounts. And remember, never reuse your email password (or any other password tied to an account that holds sensitive data about you) at any other site.
  3. If you used a mobile phone number in association with your Yahoo account, and you still use that mobile phone number, then SMS phishing (a.k.a. Smishing) is now a distinct possibility, so be very wary of this.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Is your iPhone shutting down with 30% battery remaining? You're not alone.

Various Apple users have complained in recent weeks that the latest iOS update has caused their iPhones to turn off faster than normal.

You can see a sample of the complaints in this 13-page thread in the Apple forums (here), but the gist of what's being said is that, after updating to iOS 10.1 (or iOS 10.1.1), certain iPhone models are shutting down as if they are devoid of battery, even while their battery indicators say they have about 30% battery left.

When these iPhones are plugged back in, they quickly jump back to that 30% mark.

The conditions of the issue seem to vary. The complaints suggest the point of shutdown could be slightly higher or lower than 30% and that the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 5s have been affected.

Earlier in November, Apple announced a free battery-replacement program for users experiencing “unexpected shutdown issues" — suggesting the problem is hardware-related — but it said the problem affected only "a very small number of iPhone 6s devices" manufactured from September to October 2015.

As a result, only a select number of devices are eligible to receive a new battery. (Be sure to check your eligibility here). With more than just iPhone 6s devices seeming to suffer from unexpected shutdowns, though, there's a chance that some iPhone owners are stuck with a faulty battery, with no apparent fix for the time being.

It's worth remembering that grumbles over iPhone battery issues are nothing new. An endless array of factors could cause a phone's battery to behave strangely, from buggy apps to hardware stress to basic user neglect. Some users have reported similar unexpected shutdown issues with iOS 8 and iOS 9 updates in the past, too, so again, we can't say if iOS itself is specifically at fault.

Still, while most iPhone owners don't appear to be affected, iOS 10 has not been immune to bugs since its public release in September, and there at least seems to be something worth noting here.