Internet Speed Tests

I was just playing around a bit the other day and opened the Windscribe Pro VPN, installed a new version, and wanted to see how it affected my internet download speed on wifi. As expected, it slowed my connection speed down some, and this is the price one must pay for the security from eavesdropping and hacking when on a wifi network, especially a public wifi network.

Now, I don't need a VPN on my home network -- I was just playing and checking things out. As part of this, I checked several speed test websites, which I list below. Resulting download Mbps varied considerably between the different tests. Which was more accurate? Darned if I know, but the speed of my accessing the internet is acceptable, so I don't worry about what the actual speed might be.

In case you might want to do some checking yourself, here are the websites I used.

Jim Hamm

http://www.speedtest.net/run

https://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

http://speedtest.att.com/speedtest/

https://www.spectrum.com/internet/speed-test.html

https://www.cox.com/residential/support/internet/speedtest.html

Apple's WWDC

I live-streamed Apple's presentation on September 12th, and in the first hour and 50 minutes of the presentation, there was no mention of a Mac or macOS. It was all about the Apple Watch and iPhones. In the last 5 minutes Tim Cook briefly mentioned the Home Pod and macOS Mojave. Then Tim thanked me for watching...😊...

To possibly summarize what I saw: lots of health and exercise apps, gaming apps, design improvements, advanced technology, and pretty looks. They mentioned that a prior chip performed 600 million operations per second (Wow!), and the new one 6 trillion operations per second. Unbelievable.

If you weren't able to watch the conference, I'm sure you'll still be able to watch it, should you have an interest. I enjoyed parts of it, and some not so much. I'm not into gaming, for example. But, lots of new stuff on the watch and iPhone.

Jim Hamm

Goggle Tracking

Most likely you are aware that Google tracks your activities on the internet. How much tracking, you might ask? Well, read this article:


https://www.techspot.com/news/76231-google-allegedly-paid-mastercard-millions-data-link-online.html

I must admit I have mixed emotions about Google tracking. I use Google's wares a lot -- from the Chrome Browser to Gmail to Google Drive to Google Photos to Ask Google, and perhaps others as well. All free, I might add. I realize that Google needs to make money somehow to support these activities. 

So, what do I -- and you -- think about the article? Meh! So far, none of Google's tracking has hurt me, so I'll continue to march with Google and see what happens.

Jim Hamm

Ten Years of Google Chrome

The Google Chrome Browser has been available for 10 years now, and for two out of three browser users, it's the browser of choice. It's my browser of choice also. I don't have anything against Firefox, Safari or Edge, but for a variety of reasons I prefer Chrome. The following article discusses more about the Chrome Browser.

Jim Hamm

https://askbobrankin.com/ten_years_of_google_chrome_and_why_i_cannot_quit.html

Google Photos

While I certainly enjoy looking at photos -- and I often receive interesting ones in an email --  I'm not one to actually take many photos. While I have several personal photos stored in my devices, the bulk of my photos are of interesting scenes -- such as an ominous tornado, or a spectacular waterfall, etc. --  that I've saved and use as desktop screens on my computers. 

If you've got a lot of photos stored and would like to get them off your device to free up space, you might take a look at Google Drive, which I haven't tried yet -- at least that I remember. If you might have an interest, here is a review of Google Drive that explains the features:

https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2484832,00.asp

I'm presently logged into Google's Gmail account and tried something that just flabbergasted me. The article mentioned about going to photos.google.com on the web. I just did this (for the first time, ever) In my Chrome browser (I'm on Linux Mint right now in a PC) and couldn't believe what I saw -- all my stored photos were displayed, with the first one showing a date of 2004 -- 14 years ago!

Even though I am logged into Google from my Gmail account, how did Google get into my computer to access my photos, I wondered? And on my Linux computer I don't have any photos stored. Then it dawned on me. I guess sometime in the past I must have used Google Photos, and my photos are obviously stored in the 'cloud' somewhere. Out of curiosity, I just tried this on my iPhone X in the Chrome browser, and lo and behold, all my photos came rolling up again. Amazing.

If you're looking for a place to store your photos, you might take a look at Google Photos.

Jim Hamm 

iPhone X Tips

If you've had your iPhone X for a while, you've probably got the settings set the way you want them. I thought so, also, but out of curiosity I read the following two articles and found some that I changed. 

One setting in particular was aggravating to me: every time I touched my iPhone X the display woke up and consumed battery power. I didn't like or want that. Way too sensitive I thought. I found a tip in the second article on how to turn that feature off. It took me so long to get that setting set to my preference.

HERE and HERE are the two articles in case you'd like to review the settings in your iPhone X.

Jim Hamm

MacBook Air

Rumors about the demise of the MacBook Air, which debuted 10 years ago, continue to appear in various articles. I've owned two Airs, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Just this week my wife bought a new MacBook Air, after going to the Apple store and looking over all the laptops. Why would she buy an older model that may be discontinued? Because she had an Air that had died, liked it and wanted another one.

What will take the place of the Air if it is discontinued? John Gruber, a noted tech writer, has some thoughts which he expresses here:

https://daringfireball.net/2018/08/new_low-cost_laptop_to_succeed_macbook_air 

Jason Snell, former editor of MacWorld Magazine, has some opinions as well, which he expresses in  this article: 

https://sixcolors.com/offsite/2018/08/what-does-the-future-hold-for-apples-macbook-air/

In the world of computers, technology continues to march on. What we like today may be replaced by something else tomorrow. All things considered, that's not such a bad thing.

Jim Hamm

Apple AirPods

If you have a pair of Apple AirPods, then you will want to read this article:

https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/30/how-to-use-the-extra-features-packed-into-apples-tiny-airpods

I have a pair and even though when listening to music on the 'Pods the sound is nice, I'm just not a fan of the 'Pods. The reason is they won't stay in my ears. The hard plastic end that goes into the ears just won't stay in mine. I have another brand of Bluetooth earbuds with a soft, rubber tip, and they stay in my ears just fine.

If you read the article, you'll be amazed at the length of it and the many features of the AirPod.

Jim Hamm    

Now I Get It: 5G Cell Networks

If you haven’t seen it, here is an article by David Pogue that comments on the 5G cellular networks that will be coming next year. A mixed blessing, as you’ll note.

Jim Hamm

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David Pogue published the following article today:

Now I Get It: 5G cell networks

We’re hearing a lot about 5G lately — but that’s nothing compared to the bombardment of 5G marketing you’ll get in 2019. 5G, of course, is short for “fifth generation cellular network” You had your 2G, and then your 3G, and then your 4G. The cell …

Source: Yahoo! News

 

 

 

iPhone X

I do enjoy most of the features of the iPhone X, but my biggest complaint is how sensitive the screen is. Every time a finger even slightly brushes it -- like when just laying it down -- the screen awakes and consumes battery power. Also, when in phone contacts it is so easy to accidentally dial someone you didn't mean to. 

The screen sensitivity could easily be improved if Apple would give users an option to require two taps to awake the screen, if so desired.

According to the following article, other users have iPhone X features they're not thrilled with, and a suggestion of what one can do to make a correction.

Jim Hamm

http://osxdaily.com/2018/08/14/fix-annoying-iphone-x-features/

Steve Jobs

If you're a user in the Apple ecosystem, of course you're aware of Steve Jobs. His daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, has written a book about her life with Jobs. The following comments are from a technical newsletter I subscribe to. Just passing it on FYI.

Jim Hamm

On the eve of publication, what Ms. Brennan-Jobs wants readers to know is this: Steve Jobs rejected his daughter for years, but that daughter has absolved him. Triumphantly, she loves him, and she wants the book’s scenes of their roller skating and laughing together to be as viral as the scenes of him telling her she will inherit nothing.

Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s forgiveness is one thing. What’s tricky is that she wants the reader to forgive Mr. Jobs, too. And she knows that could be a problem.

It could be a problem because Jobs comes off at best as a jerk and at worst as a truly damaged human being. Neither of those is at odds with the Steve Jobs revered—sometimes with cause, sometimes undeservedly so—by Apple enthusiasts for his marketing acumen and technical foresight.

But his relationship with his daughter adds color and perspective to an overall picture of Jobs that is often monochromatic in its focus. And it’s impossible to ignore the fact that this book’s revelations come at a time when powerful people are being brought down by past disgraceful behavior. Should we think differently about Steve Jobs after hearing Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s side of the story?

Read the excerptread the articleread the book, and make up your own mind.

iPhone Battery Tip

Here's a tip that might be helpful in reducing the drain on your iPhone battery. In looking at the battery usage over the past 24 hours on my iPhone I noticed 74% of the drain was coming from the cellular app. Why's this, I wondered? Then it dawned on me.

We have AT&T cellular service, and there is virtually no signal at our house here in Scottsdale. We have to use wifi to make and receive phone calls. So the cellular app in my iPhone sits there all day searching for a signal from AT&T that it will never receive. This consumes battery power.

I turned the app off, checked battery draw a day later, and 'voila', the drain from that app had about disappeared. When we leave our house, I'll turn the app back on so we can receive and make phone calls when we're out and about.

Jim Hamm

Bluetooth Headphones

If you are looking for Bluetooth headphones to pair with a smartphone or tablet, you might take a look at the Oontz BudZ 2 headphones. I just bought a pair from Amazon for $18. Paired them with my iPhone X, and I'm really impressed with these headphones (or earbuds). Good listening quality and with the rubber tips, they stay in my ears much better than the Apple EarPods I recently bought for $150.

Now, I'm not saying they're as good as the EarPods, but for the money, quiet decent. And I don't know about the long-term quality, either. But for the money, I thought I'd take a gamble. One nit-pick on Apple's EarPods -- the small instruction sheet sent with them is on paper that has very small print that is light-colored and hard to read. The instruction booklet that came with the OontZ earbuds has black ink in a larger size that is so much easier to read. Comparing the two instruction booklets is like comparing night and day. Apple should take a lesson from this -- their instruction booklet is yucky and cheap-looking!

Jim Hamm 

Cell Tower Radiation

You are probably aware that phone carriers are working on 5G technology for use on our smart phones and tablets. 5G promises faster data speeds, but the cell towers have to be much closer to you in order to be effective. Concerns have been expressed about cell tower radiation and increased cancer risk of these new towers. Plus, some think home values might decrease having small cell towers all over the neighborhood, like on a light pole in your front yard.

If you're interested in learning more about this issue, following are a couple of links you might look at. On the second link scroll down for some questions and answers regarding cell tower radiation.

Jim Hamm

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/5g-network-cell-towers-raise-health-concerns-for-some-residents/

https://ehtrust.org/science/cell-towers-and-cell-antennae/

USB Restricted Mode

iOS 11.4.1 update brought a new feature called USB Restricted Mode. What is this, you might ask? In a word -- security. Apple is trying to improve the security of your iOS device from being broken into by  hackers. It's a bit of a convoluted story, so to better understand what this is all about, here are two articles to read:

https://tidbits.com/2018/08/06/usb-restricted-mode-can-block-ios-device-charging/

https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/9/17549538/apple-ios-11-4-1-blocks-police-passcode-cracking-tools

Apparently some people haven't been able to charge their iOS device if it's been over 60 minutes since it was unlocked. I haven't noticed any charging problem, but in case you have, the articles explain what's going on.

The FBI, for example, would like for Apple to leave a 'backdoor' into iPhones so the FBI could view what a suspect's iPhone had been used for. So far Apple has refused to do this. If there's a 'backdoor' available, a hacker will eventually find it, and all iPhones will be at risk -- not just the one the FBI might want to get into. Arguments can be made for both sides of the issue, I guess. But I'm with Apple on this one.

Jim Hamm

Apple Worth a Trillion $

You've probably read that the market value of Apple, Inc. is worth a trillion dollars. It's difficult to visualize what a trillion is, but here are some examples that might help.

Go back a billion seconds and you'd be in 1995; go back a trillion seconds and you'd be around 30,000 B.C.; a dollar bill weighs about a gram, thus a trillion of those dollar bills would weigh 2.2 billion pounds; 

It's estimated that all the money in circulation today in the U.S. is about a trillion dollars.

Some years ago Gizmodo put together a conceptualization of what a huge pallet of a trillion dollars would look like. Take a look here, and remember -- each pallet is $100 million.

This might be more understandable: if you'd invested $10,000 in Apple stock 10 years ago you'd have $92,000 today, excluding dividends.

Jim Hamm

Printer/Scanner for Scanning Photos

I was asked which printer/scanner do I recommend for scanning photos.

Any current, new printer with a scanner will suffice. However, if you are interested in getting the best definition out of what you scan, the specs on the scanner should allow for 1200 dpi (dots per inch). Otherwise, 300 dpi is more than adequate. And if you are not interested in printing what you scan, and you don’t intend to display your photos on a large 4D or 5D display with UHD (Ultra High Definition), then scanning at 72 dpi will do. Be aware, though, that less than 300 dpi will degrade skin tones and sky colors. And for displaying on a large UHD monitor, only 300 dpi and above will do your photos justice.

You also have to choose between scanning to a JPG format or to a TIFF or PNG format. JPG is a lossy format. The more you edit it, the worse it gets. TIFF and PNG are lossless formats. You can edit as often as you like and it will not degrade the image quality. TIFF and PNG are also quite a bit larger than JPG, and the higher dpi you choose the longer it takes to scan. The higher dpi that you use, the larger the image file size will be. The more colors that are in the photo, the larger the image file size will be.

The image that follows shows the different file sizes for the same 3.5” x 5” color photo taken at different dpi, with one set for JPG and another for TIFF.

Photo Scan Test.png

On my 55” 4K UHD monitor, I see no noticeable difference between the 300 dpi and the 600 dpi images whether they be JPG or TIFF. However, the 75 dpi images blown up to fill the screen look decidedly horrible.

One note of caution about scanning. Clean the scanner platen carefully each time you open it, and wipe the face of the photo as well. Despite these precautions, specks will show up in the photos and that’s where the dust and scratches feature of the photo editor comes in handy.

So, as to what printer/scanner to get? It doesn’t matter as long as it will serve the purpose for the quality you want. What might matter are the features available for the printer/scanner that you choose, and you won’t know that until you plug it and try it. For example, my HP OfficeJet Pro series 8700 will (optionally) automatically put bounding boxes around a set of photos that I place on the scanner, and I can make adjustments to each one individually if I need to (but doesn’t correct if the photo is placed at an angle). Multiple scanned photos are all placed in the one folder I choose. Alternatively, I could scan the whole bunch as one big image at 300 dpi and then cut them apart with an editor after (actually takes way more time that way).

I use the Mac app Image Capture for all my scanning needs. It is probably not necessary to use any of the software that comes with the printer’s CD, especially if it is an Epson, a Cannon, or an HP. HP is my current favorite. If the printer/scanner claims to be perfect for photos, it is probably worth considering.

John R Carter Sr