Use google services – Even on your Samsung phone.

Having control over your data seems like it should be simple process, but because of the amount of options available it can be tricky to know which service to use. Android is a great operating system, but sometimes knowing how to properly configure its services in order to maximize the benefit to you can be overwhelming. My hope is to address some of these problems in an effort to make your smart devices serve you better.

The first problem lies with the carriers. Any carrier’s main goal is for you to stay with them so they make if difficult for you to leave. By default, your data will be set to back up to their servers. You may think, “That’s great! Verizon is backing up my data for me. Thanks Verizon!”  There are two problems with having the carrier do this for you.  First of all, your storage is limited and they will often charge you for backups over a certain amount. In contrast, Google will back up almost everything on your phone through their services for free, with very few exceptions. Another issue with running your backups through the carriers is that it’s more difficult to access your data, especially if you want to switch phone companies. Just try it. Tell AT&T you are switching to Tmobile and see how happy they are to transfer your data to the other carrier. With google, it’s simple since everything is attached to your gmail account. Just sign in to your account on your new phone and all of your pictures, contacts, settings, and much more will automatically transfer to your new device.

The second problem is with the manufacturers.  They, like the carriers, want you to stay with them and continue purchasing their devices. Because of this, most of them will provide themselves as a primary or secondary option to store your data. As I stated before, don’t fall into this trap. You may like LG now, but your next phone could be a Samsung. If that’s the case, good luck contacting them to transfer your data!

The final problem also has to do with the manufacturers. Continuity between devices can be difficult when dealing with each manufacturer’s unique user interface.  It is likely that you and your family have multiple devices. If each device has a different manufacturer then you will find that even though they all run Android, they can look very different.  In this case, you can solve the problem by using one of Androids many custom launchers.  Doing this will allow you to have more control over the way that your phone looks. You can set everyone in the house to have a similar look and feel to each other or change and customize your user experience to something more uniquely suited to you.

Android is the most widely used operating system in part because it allows huge freedom of choice in all aspects of its design. However, this great strength can also present a problem.  Keeping control of your data is one of the best ways to keep yourself free and not let a company lock you into staying with them.  If you are not able to access and move your data easily, you will feel stuck and be unlikely to change (even if you want to).  Don’t get tricked. Take control of your device! Know how to easily access your data, and make it look and feel the way you want.

UPDATE –  I have had some messages asking me to link to the services in the article

Photo backup – Google Photos

Contacts – Gmail

Files – Google Drive 

These apps are already on most Android devices they just need to be updated and activated/opened

Android Launchers – phandroid.com has a good article about diffrent launchers

Advertisements

Deal – 4 Months Free of Groove Music and 3 months of Google Play Music

Both Google and Microsoft are running deals on their music services.

 Google Music/YouTube Red is currently offering 3 months of free of both services.

google-play-button-new-e1460739245700

Google Play Music

groove-music

 Microsoft Groove Music is currently offering 4 months of free Premium service.
google-play-button-new-e1460739245700

Microsoft Groove Music

Watch out Intel, AMD just might knock you down with Ryzen

Intel may soon find themselves in a place they haven’t been in 15 years.  AMD has been hard at work developing their next generation of CPU/APUs.  They will be splitting their CPU line up into 3 classes: Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7.  Seems like they are trying to copy Intel’s scheme of i3, i5, and i7. That’s where the similarities stop. If the leaked benchmarks are true, the Ryzen 5 chips will directly take on the mainstream Intel i7 for a much cheaper price.  Take a look at this leaked benchmark.wp-1487448488156.jpg

This benchmark shows the AMD Ryzen 5 1600x chip, which is rumored to be priced at $259, beating an Intel i7 $610 chip in CPU performance.  I hope this is true. It would turn the industry on its head and finally there would be better competition.

wp-1487448481383.jpg

I am hoping to see some benchmarks on graphical performance soon. If they can similarly increase the performance of the GPU in the chips, we may be able to see the low end graphics card market drop off in favor of integrated graphics.

Better Gaming in Windows 10 coming soon – Merging Xbox and PC

windows-gaming-update

Microsoft is currently preparing for a massive update.  This will be included in what Microsoft is calling the Creators Update.  This was announced last year and has been getting updates via the insider channel for developers and tech enthusiasts.

The gaming part of the update will allow game developers to take better advantage of the system resources of the computer by minimizing the other parts of the system when a game is running.  This is similar to how the Xbox uses it resources.  If you haven’t noticed, the Xbox has about the same performance as a PC using a 3 year old AMD APU.  The reason games run smoother on less powerful hardware is the ability for the system to allocate a greater percentage of processing power to the game.  Microsoft is looking to harness more fully the power of the processor and graphics cards.

Another feature that Microsoft is touting is called Beam. Microsoft would like to be the default way for users to stream their gameplay to their friends.  Beam connects to an Xbox Live account and uses that back end to connect users to their entire xbox friends list, with the ability to instantly share gameplay with them.

They are also looking to integrate other Xbox features in to windows.  The additions to windows will help to blur the lines between Xbox gaming and windows gaming, which up until this point have been completely separate from each other.

source – xbox blog

Samsung exec in hot water over bribery charges

The Korea Herald is reporting that a top official at Samsung has just been arrested. “Lee, the 48-year-old Samsung Electronics vice chairman, is charged with bribery, embezzlement, perjury, concealment of criminal proceeds and illicit transfer of assets abroad.”

He is being accused of offering bribes that total 43 billion won which is about 36 million dollars.  In return he was ensuring the merger of two Samsung affiliates.

We will find out more as the story unfolds.

By the numbers – Android and iOS rise everyone else fades into obscurity

A recent report by gartner.com shows the sales numbers and market share by vendor and operating system

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor

4Q16Units

4Q16 Market Share (%)

4Q15
Units

4Q15 Market Share (%)

Apple

77,038.9

17.9

71,525.9

17.7

Samsung

76,782.6

17.8

83,437.7

20.7

Huawei

40,803.7

9.5

32,116.5

8.0

Oppo

26,704.7

6.2

12,961.5

3.2

BBK Communication Equipment

24,288.2

5.6

11,359.4

2.8

Others

185,921.1

43.1

191,708.4

47.6

Total

431,539.3

100.0

403,109.4

100.0

 

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2016 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor

2016
Units

2016 Market Share (%)

2015
Units

2015 Market Share (%)

Samsung

306,446.6

20.5

320,219.7

22.5

Apple

216,064.0

14.4

225,850.6

15.9

Huawei

132,824.9

8.9

104,094.7

7.3

Oppo

85,299.5

5.7

39,489.0

2.8

BBK Communication Equipment

72,408.6

4.8

35,291.3

2.5

Others

682,314.3

45.6

698,955.1

49.1

Total

1,495,358.0

100.0

1,423,900.4

100.0

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)

Operating System

4Q16
Units

4Q16 Market Share (%)

4Q15
Units

4Q15 Market Share (%)

Android

352,669.9

81.7

325,394.4

80.7

iOS

77,038.9

17.9

71,525.9

17.7

Windows

1,092.2

0.3

4,395.0

1.1

BlackBerry

207.9

0.0

906.9

0.2

Other OS

530.4

0.1

887.3

0.2

Total

431,539.3

100.0

403,109.4

100.0

 

source – gartner.com

Staying Virus free

I am often asked which virus scanner I use on my PCs. Typically, people are shocked when I tell them that I do not use one. How can I keep my computer safe with no premium virus scanner?  The answer has more to do with the way I use the computer than anything else. It’s important to know what to avoid and how to tell when things don’t seem right.

Knowing the basics about viruses and where they come from will help keep you safe in the mine field that is computing. For example, no company is going to call you out of the blue and offer to fix your computer remotely.  If you receive an unrequested call from anyone claiming they are from Microsoft (or any other technology company) wherein they inform you that they need access to your computer in order to fix it, this is a scam. Hang up! Do not give them access to your personal information.

Another common scam is when your browser gets hijacked.  In this situation, your browser redirects you to a scam page which will ask you to click on a link that may contain viruses or call a number. Like the direct calling mentioned before, once you call this number, they will claim to be offering a necessary service and ask to gain access to your computer, talking you through the process of how to give this to them. If you are browsing the internet and any page pops up asking you to call for service, it is most likely not legitimate.

You can easily tell if a page is legitimate or not by looking at the URL. Make sure that the page being displayed matches the address you entered. Even legitimate websites can get hacked and redirect you to a virus. More often than not, the fake redirected site will inform you that you need to click to update your browser or flash player. Don’t click anywhere on this page as doing so may give you a virus. Don’t worry though, the solution is usually simple. Close the browser window by clicking the X at the upper right (or the red button at the upper left on a mac). Other times it can be more complicated. The hacked site can lock your computer so that you can not close the window. In this case, force close the window by opening the task manager (ctrl + alt +del). Find your browser and click “end task”(Click here to see how).  If all else fails, as a last resort, hold your power button down until the machine turns off.

Here is an example of a hijacked page. chrome-update-scam-1

Lastly, every once in a while, it’s a good idea to make sure that there are no programs installed on your computer that you did not install.  An easy way to check this is to open the control panel (or application list on a mac) and do a visual check.  Reorganize the list to show you the most recently installed first.  Common virus programs will claim that they are optimizers, virus scanners, and cleaners, (ironic, right?)  Another classic sign that your computer is infected is when these programs load automatically when you first turn your computer on.  They often will claim they are a Microsoft partner. If you have programs like these you should probably take your computer in to a professional to get them removed.