Wednesday, February 10, 2016

All You Need to Know About Twitter's New Algorithmic Timeline

Sometime change is necessary for companies and their websites to remain relevant to the world and/or to keep the cash flowing. Sometimes those changes are good, most the time they aren't, but almost always they are met with some level of negativity. Hey no one likes to change, especially when they are major shifts to your favorite sites!

Today one of our favorite social media sites Twitter has enacted a major shift in focus. One that has been met with a ton of negativity from users whom have made their opinions well known on the site with hashtags like #RIPTwitter trending for the past few days when rumors of the change first starting going mainstream.

Twitter's new 'algorithmic timeline' feature will display “important” tweets at the top of your news feed, instead of simply displaying the most recent tweets. On the company's blog, Senior Engineering Manager Mike Jahr explained how the new service works, and why Twitter thinks it is something that users will eventually like and want to use. Essentially their reasoning behind this massive change is they feel that by displaying tweets that Twitter thinks you will like best immediately at the top of your news-feed when you log in, you will be more likely to respond to or retweet them, increasing the amount of conversation around those tweets.

To put that into plain English, and to highlight why most Twitter users aren't all that thrilled with the new changes, what Twitter is saying is they are changing your feed so they can select what news they think is most relevant to you and which tweets they want you to see and ultimately engage with first. Basically it comes down to the dollar and their power ability to market sale position and tweets. This gives them more 'pulling power' which in turn means more revenue down the road.

Since they are choosing what is prioritized for you, instead of you just seeing what you want and being able to scroll through your normal feed as you always would, they now have an option to 'prioritize' paid accounts (should they go that route) contributing partners, or more advertisers without them appearing as ads. This shift isn't anything new, in fact is very similar to the way Facebook runs things now days, and well we see how many users hate that!

How Do I Opt-In or Opt-Out?

For now at least, Twitter has said the new timeline feature will be an Opt-In only option and that even after you have tested out and decided for yourself if you want to use it or not you can opt-out. However, we seriously doubt that will last and figure that eventually Twitter will make it go live for everyone. Their choice of phrasing on their blog post explaining the service was odd and seemingly admits it will be 'turned on' for everyone in the coming weeks.
To check it out now, just go into the timeline section of your settings and choose 'Show me the best Tweets first'. We'll be listening to your feedback and making it even better over time. Then we'll be turning on the feature for you in coming weeks — look out for a notification in your timeline.
You can turn the new algorithmic timeline or "Show me the best Tweets first" feature on or off from your account settings page:

On twitter.com:
  1. Log in to your account on twitter.com and go to your Account settings page.
  2. Under Content, look for Timeline and toggle the box next to Show me the best Tweets first to change the setting.
Twitter for iOS:
  1. On your profile, tap the gear icon and select Settings.
  2. Tap the account whose settings you’d like to adjust.
  3. Under Timeline, tap Timeline personalization.
  4. Next to Show me the best Tweets first, tap to turn it off.
Twitter for Android:
  1. Tap the overflow icon (3 small dots)
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Timeline.
  4. Next to Show me the best Tweets first, uncheck the box to turn it off.
For more details you can view the help center support page and of course if you would like to share your feedback with Twitter you can send them your thoughts, we hope everyone takes the time to! And please feel free to comment below letting us know how you feel about the new changes!


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Going to Super Bowl 50? Don't Take Your Drone With You!

As drones have become increasingly popular we have seen more and more regulations aimed at preventing users from flooding the skies. While we have seen them banned in the past from major events, we have never seen a ban set forth as strict as the ones we are seeing for Super Bowl 50!

In a rather unprecedented move the Federal Aviation Administration has banned all drones from flying anywhere within a 32-mile radius of Levi's Stadium as part of a complex and strict set of rules for all air traffic. That's an area that includes all of Silicon Valley, San Jose, Oakland and most of San Francisco.

The ban includes any personal and seemingly commercial use of drones, model aircraft, model rockets, hang gliding, crop dusting and parachuting (of course). Essentially all none approved aviation activities are banned from 2 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. The game coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET.


"With so many drones being sold for recreational use, we want to do everything we can to get the word out that the game is a No Drone Zone," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

What does that mean and what happens if the rules are ignored?
FAA regulations state: "The United States government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat."

That doesn't specifically mean that they will shoot your drone out of the sky, however if you happen to be in compliance with the new drone registration regulations and have your drone registered you may face sever fines if they track the drone back to you. If you aren't in compliance with said regulations you may face even stiffer penalties for not only ignoring the no fly rules but also for ignoring the registration rules.

So it seems your best option here is to simply leave your drones at home! And I should note, we aren't just talking about your unmanned, camera armed, recording machine. We are talking about every for of drone including that pint sized toy you want to buzz around at your tailgate party.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Microsoft Issues Recall For AC Power Adapters For Surface Pro Tablets

Microsoft has issued a recall for close to 2.25 million Microsoft Surface Pro AC power adapters in the U.S. due to the potential risk of fire, shock and overheating. This recall involves AC power cords sold with Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 computers before March 15, 2015.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website Microsoft has received 56 reports of AC cords overheating and emitting flames and five reports of electrical shock to consumers prompting the immediate recall and replacement of those cords that may be affected. The CPSC noted that close to 2.25 million units are impacted in the US with another 190,000 power cords also sold in Canada.

For help identifying the product affected by this recall Microsoft has issued the follow: Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 devices have a black case with the product name on the back of the device toward the bottom. Surface Pro 3 computers have a silver case with “Windows 8 Pro” on the back of the device under the kickstand. This recall also involves accessory power supply units that include an AC power cord sold separately before March 15, 2015. The recalled power cords do not have a 1/8-inch sleeve on the cord on the end that connects to the power supply.

A replacement can be requested through Microsoft's support site. Once ordered, the replacement AC power cord should reach the customer within seven to 10 days, Microsoft said. For more details you may also call Microsoft toll-free at 855-327-7780 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

This recall DOES NOT apply to: AC power cords for Microsoft Surface RT, Microsoft Surface 2, Microsoft Surface 3, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices sold after March 15, 2015, Microsoft Surface Pro 4, and Microsoft Surface Book  or AC power cords and power supplies for the docking stations for Microsoft Surface Pro, Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and Microsoft Surface 3

Monday, February 01, 2016

Review: Monster Mobile PowerCard For When You Need A Power Boost On The Go!

Cherry Red PowerCard

Every geek out there has faced the issue of needing a little extra power while on the go, but with all the power pack options out there it is often hard to decide which option best suites your needs. Honestly, there is no one good answer, and if I were to tell you otherwise I'd be lying! However, today we are going to offer one solution that we've recently had the chance to checkout and that is the Monster Mobile PowerCard Portable Battery v2.

Monster does power packs?

When most geeks think of Monster power and power packs are likely the last thing on our minds. In fact most people out there usually think of Monster as a cable supplier, thinking only of their expansive line of audio-related accessories; such as premium audio cables and headphones. However, they do offer a rather extensive line of additional accessories including, memory cards, screen cleaning supplies, portable Bluetooth speakers and yes portable batteries.

While the fact that Monster has power packs may come to a surprise to many, the fact is they actually have had several options available and on the market for some time now. The Monster PowerCard we are checking out today is just one of their newest offerings.

Monster PowerCard v2 At a Glance

The PowerCard is meant to offer users a quick boost of emergency power in an ultra-thin ultra portable package! Measuring just 3.438"L x 2.125"W x 0.25"H the PowerCard is about the size of a credit card, or as you can see from our photo below the size of a pack of Dentyne Ice gum and weighs about the same at only 1.6 oz.. This means it is perfect for guys or gals on the go as it will slip nicely into any shirt or pants pocket or even the smallest purses out there. You also have 5 color options, Cherry Red, Cobalt Blue, Silver, Black and a Lime Green.


According to Monster the PowerCard offers up to 5 hours of emergency power and features what is called, “No Waiting Technology”, which an is auto-sensing charging technology that detects exactly what speed your smartphone or USB device charges at and provides it instantaneously. The power pack offers 1.5 amps for a quicker charge and boasts charging times that are 3x times faster than standard USB chargers.

These numbers are pretty impressive when you consider the PowerCard only offers a 1,650 mAh Li-Polymer battery, a rather small capacity by today's standards for sure, still quite remarkable though when you consider the overall size of the package!

As with most portable battery packs there isn't much to the outside of the casing. You'll find a dedicated power button, microUSB port for charging, full-sized 1.5 amp USB port, and 3 blue lit LEDs. Pressing on the power button once turns on the LEDs to indicate how much juice is left, something we'll get into a bit later, while long pressing initiates the charging process.

Monster PowerCard v2 Our Testing and Review

Getting the basics out of the way we unpackaged our PowerCard and as with most geeks just jumped right in without reading the manual (not that it tells you much!). As per usual right out of the box you need to charge it first, we didn't check the indicator to see how dead it was but I wouldn't rush to the store expecting to get a full charge of emergency power right from the gate!

Aside from a very short manual you'll receive a short microUSB to USB cable for both charging the PowerCard and charging your device. In order to keep things compact the cable is about 5-6" long, if more length is needed then I suggest using your phones own USB cable.

When charging you'll notice the 3 blue LEDs flash and continue to do so until it obtains full charge. The manual says you can expect a full charge from a USB AC power adapter in about 2 hours or less, or from a standard notebook USB port in about 3.5 hours. We originally charged ours for about 30mins to a full charge and then a second time after testing and from what was completely drained it took about 45mins to charge.

Given that the battery only has a 1650 mAh capacity we figured it wouldn't make much sense to try to charge multiple devices, or even a single large capacity device to full charge. So we tested our PowerCard on our Samsung Galaxy S5 with its 2800 mAh battery. Since we figure most geeks are like us and only think to use their back-up power packs when they truly need them the most we decide we'd start charging our phone at around 10% battery, of course we could always just use the Ultra Power Saving Mode, but that just isn't as much fun!

With 10% battery on our Galaxy S5 we let the PowerCard charge for about 20mins. At that time it went totally dead which as first we thought might be due to over heating because it was very hot to the touch. Upon checking it appears as  though we had drained the battery completely. The PowerCard only managed to charge our Galaxy S5 to about 40%, so the actual charge capabilities would appear to be well below the 1650 mAh as advertised.

**Now whether or not the minimal charge was due to the phone being on despite there being no apps running or not we aren't sure at this time. We'd need to run through several charges under a few different scenarios to confirm the best options and how accurate these results are. Either way that is a bit disappointing, but would still be better than nothing in a pinch!**

Monster PowerCard v2 Pricing

The PowerCard starts at $29.95 when purchased directly from Monster. However, they are currently offering a great sale on the Cobalt Blue model at $11.99 (unsure when this ends). Looking around the web it appears as though you can find them pretty regularly for around $15 each, not a bad price for what you get in this small package!

Conclusion
While one could certainly argue that there are several other more budget friendly options out there, and of course for hardcore users there are definitely larger capacity packs that can be had, we were pleasantly surprised by what this little PowerCard could do.

The initial price tag and lower than expected output would definitely hold us back from giving this a strong rating and we didn't really care for the flashing LEDs as a method of checking capacity as it wasn't all that accurate and was a bit confusing. Despite all that we think the Monster PowerCard would make a nice addition to the arsenal, especially if you can snag one on-sale for $11.99. We'd give it a strong B- (or 2.5 stars) mainly because it is so portable and does come from Monster, a highly reputable company.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Apple Recalls Several AC Wall Plug Adapters and Travel Kits Over Shock Risk

Apple has issued a voluntary recall of several AC wall plug adapters that were included with several Macs, along with several Apple World Travel Adapter Kits, included with few iOS devices shipped and sold between 2003 to 2015. A large number of markets are impacted, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Continental Europe, New Zealand and South Korea. Luckily for most US based geeks the current recall doesn't include any parts of North America.

At issue is the possibility that the actual adapters themselves could break open at the casing and causing a 'slight' risk of electrical shock if touched. One could also assume the exposed rronges could also potentially create other risks as well, such as fire, however at this time Apple has only stated there is a risk of shock and that they can confirm at least 12 incidents worldwide.

Apple has stated in their official press release that in “very rare cases,” the two-prong wall plug adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched. Apple's support forum has already seen a few examples of what 'may' occur if the adapters break. One such example is the picture  found in this thread from Apple’s support forum.

Apple is asking customers to stop using affected plug adapters. Customers should visit www.apple.com/support/ac-wallplug-adapter for details about how to exchange the affected adapters for new, redesigned ones.

An affected two-prong plug adapter has either four or five characters or no characters on the inside slot where it attaches to the main Apple power adapter. Visit the program website for more details on how to identify an affected adapter.

Apple noted the recall doesn’t affect Apple AC wall plug adapters made for Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, or any Apple USB power adapters.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why Bad Earnings For Apple May Mean Good News For You!

Apple's quarterly earnings report may be one of today's biggest headlines and while investors and analysts might be leery of what we may see and what a bad report may hold. For my fellow geeks out there could be a major silver lining in those dark clouds!

There are rumors and speculation abound over what we can expect when Apple reports their fiscal first-quarter earnings later this afternoon, and while many are expecting the tech giant to once again set a new iPhone sales record, some are bracing for a rough year this year. Most major analyst are expecting Apple to see lower sales totals in 2016 and are expecting Apple to post its first year-over-year sales decline for the iPhone since its 2007 launch.

While this might be bad news for some, it could potentially be great news for consumers and geeks alike! With lower than expected sales we could finally see Apple enter into the pricing wars that we have seen other major manufactures face over the past few years. This may mean that we may see Apple slash prices on some of there product lines in order to get more consumers buying and as such added to their ecosystem.

Now of course this is just a bit of speculation, and really all hinges on what we see in this Apple earnings report and what they share in their own advisories and earnings estimates.

However, we have seen Apple roll the dice with a few budget offerings like the iPhone 5c and what is rumored to be a new smaller 'second edition' device like the iPhone 5se. This means we could be seeing Apple finally opening the door to a price war. A war that we can hope will lead to other companies falling inline and either dropping prices to stay competitive and ahead of a slower than expected sales year, or offering even better features or bundles than we have already seen in the past!

For those interested, you can hear the live webcast of Apple's earnings report on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 7.0 or later, a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X v10.8.5 or later or a PC with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. The live webcast will begin at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 26, 2016 at www.apple.com/investor/earnings-call/.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Seagate In-Lab Data Recovery Services Now Offers Cloud-based Data Returns



Anyone who has ever gone through the heartache of facing data recovery knows the process can be a tedious time consuming one. First you have to package up your drives, then ship them off to the labs and finally cross your fingers and hope and pray that they are able to recover your precious data. Then of course there is the waiting game to get your data returned, all the while you face delays which more often than not mean money!

Now days the best way to avoid this hassle is undoubtedly having a great back-up plan! There are plenty of great options out there that are very cost effective, with several actually being free depending on your needs. However, should you still find yourself in need of actual physical data recovery from a dead drive, popular hard drive manufacture Seagate, has for years offered very reliable very cost friendly In-Lab recovery services.

Until recently Seagate only offered the traditional recovery options, which meant submitting your case (details of your drive and data needing recovery), sending in your physical drive and waiting for the data to be recovered and returned. However, now there is a much faster more reliable option. Seagate recently transitioned to a cloud based platform which will offer faster return times as well as access to your recovered data anywhere you are. A real positive for anyone that is on a time crunch or might be worried about lost or misplaced packages.

The new cloud option still offers the same benefits of Seagate's traditional In-Lab recovery services. So you still get the 'no recovery, no cost' option, as well as 24/7 recovery tracking and full data back-up to a new external drive. You'll just see the added benefit of online password protection access to your recovered files. The files will be saved for 60days, with a guarantee of removal afterwards.

For more details checkout Seagate's In-Lab Recovery Services FAQ's