Unboxing the Star Trek Original Series Communicator

If you’re a Star Trek fan, then you’re going to want to see this…

About a year ago, I got wind of a new prop replica and after seeing it, I had to have one. I’m a huge Trekkie, and honestly, this was just a little too difficult to resist. The closest I ever got to a Star Trek Communicator when I was a kid was one of these…

Communicator Walkie Talkie

The walkie talkies I got as a kid, weren’t very authentic. They were blue. They were made of plastic, and they didn’t work very well. However, for a ten-year-old in 1975, they were totally awesome.

As you can see from the unboxing video and from the photos below, this is TOTALLY different. The device is truly authentic. It’s got the right type of metal casing, with the correct die cast pattern on the casing. It has the gold tone grill antenna, flashing jewels and actuator buttons.

The device is a fully functional, Bluetooth handset. When paired with your smartphone, it can make and place calls, and even act as a Bluetooth audio speaker for your favorite music or video.

The battery life on this thing is (supposed to be) pretty decent. I’ve had it for a few weeks at this point, and after its initial charge, it hasn’t run out of power just yet. Though to be very honest, I haven’t used it too extensively. It’s been hugely fun to play with, but I don’t want to damage or ruin it…

You can see a number of still pictures of the device and its contents, below. As you can see from the shots, is correctly sized and proportioned, and the sounds, make it all that much more fun that you’d think.

IMG_5535 IMG_5536 IMG_5537 IMG_5538
The front of the box The back of the box. Notice all of the detailed specs and information The Communicator’s collector’s box The faux leather case
IMG_5539 IMG_5540 IMG_5541
The open Communicator’s Collector case The contents of the collector’s case. The open Communicator Kirk to Enterprise..!

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Another Day… Another Virus (Backdoor.MAC.Elanor)

This one targets Mac systems. Heads up Apple users…!

As Macs and macOS become more and more mainstream, more and more virus and malware authors are going to be writing code that targets computers coming out of Cupertino. Case in point – a new piece of malware has been encountered in the wild, allowing attackers to hijack a Mac user’s machine.

backdoorThe new malware has been named Backdoor.MAC.Elanor by researchers at Bitdefender. The software installs a backdoor onto an infected Mac that provides full access to a Mac user’s data, and full control over their web cam. The malware has been traced to the installation of an app called Easy Doc Converter.app.

Easy Doc Converter is a fake file conversion app that is apparently available from reputable download sites across the internet. The app installs a component that provides remote, anonymous access of an infected system’s command and control center. Additional components allow attackers to view, edit, rename, delete, upload, download and archive/copy off files from infected systems. They also have elevated privileges that allow them to execute commands and scripts.

This particular bit of malware allows attackers to watch computer users at their workstations via the computer’s web cam. Attackers make use of an included tool called “wacaw” to capture stills and video from infected systems, according to Bitdefender.

Thankfully, the app isn’t digitally signed with an approved Apple security cert, so if you’ve got Gatekeeper enabled (and don’t disable it, trying to install Easy Doc Converter…) you won’t get infected.

As more and more malware targets Macs, you’d be hard pressed not to find and install a decent malware scanner for your Mac. Thankfully, Soft32 has more than one good AV scanner for Mac on the site, including BitDefender Antivirus for Mac 2016.

Since they’re the ones that broke the news on this new malware, they will likely also be the first with removal instructions should you find yourself infected. If you suspect this is the case, installing this app should be your first step.

If you find that you have Backdoor.MAC.Elanor, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Please leave a comment below in the Discussion area for this column and let us know where you found the Easy Doc Converter app and if you’ve been able to get rid of the malware.

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Apple to Acquire Tidal?

Apple may acquire the streaming service to obtain exclusive content…

tidalstreamingmusic

I’ve seen a number of reports on the internet about Apple being interested or in talks to acquire the music streaming service, Tidal. For those that remember, Tidal was setup by Jay-Z, as in Beyoncé and Jay-Z, so yeah… Them.

The talks are reported to be exploratory and may not result in a deal; but Apple appears to be serious. It also doesn’t hurt that Tidal is in a huge money crunch, and Jay-Z may get his butt out of the financial fire if this turns out to be true and the acquisition goes through.

However, according to sources reported by the Wall Street Journal, a Tidal spokesman said that Tidal executives had not held talks with Apple, and the terms of any deal are unknown.

This would not be the first music company that Apple has purchased. They purchased Beats from Dr. Dre in 2014. However, Tidal is the first artist owned streaming service, and as I said, it has exclusive content from Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Prince. Music from these artists was removed from Apple Music (and Spotify, for that matter) about a year ago in July of 2015. Tidal currently has 4.2 million paying subscribers.

Apple is looking to expand its presence in the music industry. Since it acquired Beats in 2014, its launched its own streaming service in Apple Music and will be making important modifications to it with the release of iOS 10 later in the Fall of 2016.

Tidal has streaming agreements with Bea, J, and The Artist, as well as artists like Kanye and Madonna. Apple seriously wants a chunk of the streaming pie, and has been pushing to acquire rights to exclusive and original content for Apple Music and its 15M+ paying subscribers.

I’m not certain why streaming is the big deal that it is. There’s only one carrier that I know of right now that is offering a current, non-grandfathered unlimited data plan, and that’s AT&T, provided you have them for mobile service AND are also a DirecTV customer. If you are, AT&T’s unlimited everything, everything plan is truly the way to go. It makes everything way cheap.

However, unless you have that plan – and most people don’t – mobile bandwidth can be expensive, especially if you eat through yours streaming music and video content all day long. While Wi-Fi will help you here, Wi-Fi is not ubiquitous, and as such, you’re likely to burn through your bandwidth very quickly and get hit with overage charges unless, of course, you buy a big streaming package for your phone, and then… things can get expensive.

I don’t know why streaming is the thing. It might be because paid streaming subscriptions make finding new music economically affordable. However, after you find it and you download it, you’re leasing it. Once the subscription is gone, you can’t listen to it any more. You can’t burn downloaded subscription content to a CD, kids…

Are you a music streaming service subscriber? Do you have issues with your monthly allotment of mobile data every month? Join me in the Discussion area and let me know what you think of this deal and what it might mean to music streaming subscribers.

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Rooting the HTC 10

If you truly want to make it your own…

Introduction
There are legitimate reasons for rooting an Android device. They aren’t all about custom ROM’s and the like. And since its now LEGAL to jailbreak devices, some of the sexy and taboo has gone out of the game and for some – me included – its now often more hassle than its worth.

However, there are often some good reasons for rooting an Android device that go beyond the desire for a custom ROM. Some of those reasons speak to the need for a backup app like, Titanium Backup. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve jail broken or rooted any kind of smartphone. I wanted to give it a try…

Improved Rooting Process
To be very blunt, I’ve always owned either a Nexus or HTC Android Phone. My daughter had a brief dalliance with the Samsung Galaxy (1) smartphone a number of years back, but that proved to be a bit challenging when it came to customization. It also cured her of any interest in Android as I recall, as a matter of fact.

Rooting and customizing an Android device is NOT an easy process. However, in the seven or so years that I’ve been looking into it, it has gotten a LOT easier. The process used to involve invoking commands that ran a process and then invoked a known security hole. Once invoked, the process that you ran was “broken,” leaving you with access that had elevated privileges where you could then run commands that made those privileges permanent. Once that happened, you could unlock the bootloader (if locked and needed to be unlocked), install a better recovery partition and SU (or Super User) that made root access system wide.

Doing all of those things in the right order, at the right TIMES, wasn’t easy. In many cases you might have to perform some steps multiple times, or depending on how things worked, you may even brick your device. I know I had more than one harrowing moment where I thought I had bricked more than one device. I have been fortunate, however, NOT to have had that happen. I’ve always been able to get a wayward (or device that I thought I had bricked) back. However, this is a REAL issue, so, hence, the following notice:

WARNING – Rooting your Android device involves modifying some very key and deep system level settings and files. It (can, and likely will) void your warranty. It may also brick your device and make it permanently unusable if things turn sideways. You do any and ALL of it at your own risk, and neither I nor Soft32 sanction, suggest or encourage you to undertake these activities. No offer of warranty is expressed or implied. You move forward with any of this AT YOUR OWN RISK. Period.

Full instructions can be found on this easy to follow video. Please note that the instructions are for a Windows system. If you use a Mac or Linux system, you will need to sub in the appropriate tools (like Terminal, etc.)

The video is just under 15 minutes in length and should be easy enough for nearly anyone and everyone to follow, provided you’re familiar using the Windows Command Prompt. I’m not going to go over everything here, despite the step-by-step stuff you’re going to see, largely because the video is really very, VERY good; and because there are a LOT of How to Root articles and videos available for the HTC 10. However, there are some specific things that I do want to touch on and say.

Process
The process is fairly simple, but you’ll need to complete everything in order. You can start and stop if needed, but you should complete each of the noted steps in full before stopping. It’s not recommended that you start and stop unless you really know what you’re doing. The entire process will likely take you two to three (2-3) hours, especially if you’re new to this, so again, make sure you watch the video and have everything you need before you start.

1. Gather the software
2. Prep the device
3. Unlock the bootloader
4. Install the Recovery Image
5. Install SuperSU

Gather the Software
You’ll need the following tools. Links are not provided here. These are readily and freely available all over the internet. Please make certain you have everything that you need before you start and that each title has all of the required files.

This is especially true for Fastboot and ADB. I had to download the software separately, as I couldn’t find the software with all of the same files in it as described in the video. Take your time. Get all the files, as you will need a fully functioning Fastboot in order to do this.
1. Fastboot
2. TWRP 3.0.2.1 (or greater) recovery image
3. SuperSU v2.68 or greater
4. ADB
5. Android SDK
6. HTC Driver 4.10.0.001.msi (or greater)

Device Prep
You don’t need to do a lot here, but this stuff is important.

Developer Mode
This process is documented, like, nowhere. Or at least it isn’t documented anywhere any regular user would learn about it or find it. However, without this stuff, you’re never going to be able to get the job done.

Go to Settings – About – Software Information – More. Tap on the build number 10-15 times (or more) until the device tells you that Developer Mode has been enabled. This will enable other device communication options in Settings that you will need to check in order to root the device.

Go to Settings – Developer Options (this is a new option that appears after the above is done). Turn on OEM Unlocking. This will give you the permissions to actually go through the process of unlocking the boot loader.

Power off the device. The next step is unlocking the bootloader. Make certain you’ve got all the software you need downloaded and installed before moving forward. It will make things a lot easier, and you won’t have to start and stop with some of the things as you see in the video.

Unlocking the Bootloader
You’re going to need Fastboot for this, and you’ll need to work from a command prompt in this section. Again, watch the video, as it will take you step by step through the entire process, and it will show you the exact screens you will see while doing all of this.

Again, I’m abbreviating this process, so, please, watch the video. Though the author does initially make a mistake about this section and then corrects himself.

Connect the device to your USB cable. Turn your device back on, but when doing so, press and hold both the power button and the volume down button until you see the HTC logo. You’re going to be put into bootloader mode. The bootloader will state that its locked, and you’ll see a split screen display.

After you have your device connected to your PC via USB cable, the device booted to the bootloader and Fastboot can see it, you’re going to get a identifier token from the device that you will then enter into a special page on the HTC website.

With the HTC10 connected to your system, open a Command Prompt window and change the directory to where ever you have Fastboot installed. Once in that directory, type the following command into the Command Prompt window and press enter:

Fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Fastboot get Token

This will return a huge string of numbers that will display in the Command Prompt window. You will need to use the Copy-Paste function out of the DOS window to grab everything from

<<<< Identifier Token Start >>>>

to

<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>

including those banner lines.

Fastboot Retrieve Token

You will then need to go to HTCDev.com and create an account. After creating your free account and logging in, click the Unlock Bootloader icon. Follow the links. When you get to the Unlock Bootloader page, you’ll follow these instructions:

1. Click the device dropdown
2. Select HTC 10 from the supported device list
3. Click the Begin Unlock Bootloader button
4. Click Yes on the, “Are you sure…?” dialog
5. Click the checkboxes on the Legal Terms dialog
6. Click the Proceed to Unlock Instructions button
7. Follow the instructions on page 1 of the unlock instructions page. (It also contains links to Fastboot, if you don’t have it; and will also show you how to retrieve your Identifier Token. You can breeze through this, as you’ve already got Fastboot AND the token by this point, if you’re following the video…)
8. Click the Proceed to Step 5 button
9. Scroll to the bottom of the second page of the process. It’s here where you’ll paste in the Identifier.
10. Click the Submit button

Get Unlock Token

You’ll be emailed a file that you’ll use to unlock the bootloader of your phone. You’ll use Fastboot for this. You’ll need to save the file that HTC emails you, Unlock_code.bin, to your Fastboot directory and then type this command in the DOS window and then press enter:

Fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

Once flashed, reboot your device. It will rebuild itself. Go back to the bootloader and it should read that it is now unlocked, but your device isn’t rooted yet.

Install the Recovery Image
At some point, you should have downloaded a copy of the TWRP recovery image. This is an image file of a new recovery image that will give you a number of different options that are more advanced than the recovery image that comes with your HTC 10. It will make installing the last part of this process – SuperSU – a lot easier and will also allow you to install custom ROM images that may become available for the HTC 10.

Follow this process to install the recovery image.

  1. Copy twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img to your Fastboot folder
  2. At the DOS prompt window, while still in the Fastboot directory, type the command:
    Fastboot flash recovery twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img. The file will copy over to the device.
  3. On your device, hit the power key to reboot to bootloader
  4. This will bring up the device’s actual bootloader.
  5. Press the down volume button until Boot to Recovery mode is selected on your phone and then press the power button. This will activate TWRP Recovery.
  6. Press the cancel button on the device.
  7. Keep everything read only.
  8. Press the Wipe button
  9. Press the Format Data button
  10. When prompted, type the word, “yes”. This will format the Data partition on your device.
  11. Once complete, tap Reboot, then tap Bootloader. The device screen will quickly flash and put you back in the white bootloader screen.
  12. Press the volume down button until you get to Reboot to Recovery mode. Press the power button. This will put you back in the TWRP recovery screen.

Next, proceed to the Install SuperSU section. You’re device still isn’t rooted. The next section, accomplishes this.

Install SuperSU
Please remember that you shouldn’t do this lightly. It’s at this point, that you will be able to raise the privileges on your device and actually root it.

  1. In the TWRP recovery screen, swipe to allow modifications.
  2. On your PC, go back to the folder that you downloaded SuperSU to and right click it. Click Copy from the context menu.
  3. Find your device in the Windows Explorer window’s left pain and click on it. Double click to open the internal storage.
  4. Copy the ZIP file to your device’s internal storage.
  5. Back on the device, tap the Install button and select SuperSU from the screen that displays.
  6. Swipe to install.
  7. Once that installs, tap the reboot button

Your device will completely wipe and reboot itself. You’ll need to go through the full setup process again. When all is done, tap the app tray folder icon to show all the apps that are on your device.
Find the SuperSU icon and tap on it. If you don’t get any errors, you’re all set.

Conclusion
There’s a lot here; and I honestly went into more detail and actual how-to than I had originally planned. However, better safe than sorry.

Again, watch the video. Its short, very informative and it’s VERY easy to follow.

If you’re HTC 10 was carrier unlocked (like mine was, directly from HTC) unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device won’t necessarily void your warranty. However, for devices locked to any specific carrier, like either Verizon Wireless or to AT&T, then you may void your warranty if you do this.

Are you an Android fan? Do you have an HTC 10; and if so, did you root it? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know your thoughts on the process and of your results.

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WWDC 2016 Part 2 – Cool New iOS 10 Features

iOS users rejoice! The New Hotness is on its way!

Introduction
wwdc2016iOS 10 is due to be released later this fall with the introduction of the next iPhone, and it’s got some really cool, new features. While I’m not going to go through the entire new feature set, or really into a lot of detail about some of the new stuff that I AM going to touch on, there’s some stuff that I’m certain that everyone will really like to hear about.

Believe it or not, iOS and its UI/ UX has been largely stagnant since the introduction of iOS 7. The interface really hasn’t changed in over three years (since 2013 or so) as of this writing. As such, iOS 10 is offering some really cool enhancements that should make quite an impact to the usability of iPhone. Quite honestly, some of these UI/ UX enhancements should have been implemented a while ago. That is, they’re a long time coming and may be considered overdue by some.

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the cooler features that will be coming to iOS 10!

Notifications, Control Center and Lock Screen
A lot of work has been done to enhance the way these components work in iOS 10. Control Center has been redesigned to be a more useful and functional set of panels of buttons and tools. You can swipe across Control Center panes to get to needed items, including a useful Media Center view. Support for 3D Touch has also been built into Control Center, but I wasn’t able to find a great deal of information on how that might actually work as of this writing.

Calendar
Your calendar just got a whole lot smarter. Now, iOS will suggest calendar event meeting time and places based on iMessage thread content. Calendar will also suggest times to leave and will over locations suggestions, too. Calendar can do the same with email content, and overall, its ability to handle events based on email content has greatly improved.

Camera RAW
I’ve been waiting on this one for as long as the iPhone has had a “decent” camera. As a serious, amateur photographer, I prefer working with RAW files rather than JPGs or TIFFs. You get better retouching results when you work with data direct from you camera that isn’t compressed. Well, now, iOS 10 allows you to work with camera RAW images, though, at least for now (meaning until Apple and other third party iOS developers), you’ll need to use third party (and likely third party desktop) apps to edit these images.

Music Storage Optimization
If you keep a lot of music on your device – like I do – you’ll be pleased to know that iOS 10 will now automatically remove tracks from your iPhone that you don’t listen to very often in order to make more internal storage available. Storage Optimization will allow you to set a threshold of between 4GB to 32GB of space, keeping all other on board storage for other content.

This Little Light of Mine…
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t used their smartphone’s flash as a flash light. It’s pretty much universal. The iPhone and its users are no different. I use my flash as a flash light at least 2 – 3 times a week.

In iOS 10, if you have an iPhone 6s or later, your 3D Touch capable iPhone will allow you to set the intensity of your flashlight via pressure sensitive touch of the screen. The harder you push, the brighter the light.

iCloud Drive Desktop, Documents
When you pair your iOS 10 based iDevice with a machos Sierra powered Mac, you’ll be able to access the files and objects (meaning documents and folders) stored on your Mac’s desktop through iCloud Drive. Most of your really important stuff is likely sitting on your desktop. Now, you can get to all of that important stuff without creating duplicates or elaborate copy jobs to give you access to the stuff you need the most.

Dude..?!? Where’s my car?
There are some third party apps that keep track of your vehicle for you after you park it; but (unless I’m wrong here…and if I am, please ping me in the Discussion area, below and let me know…) I don’t think Google Maps or any of the other major GPS apps, like HERE Maps, Navigo or Navmii, mark the “final” resting place of your car after a navigation session.

In iOS 10, Apple maps will automatically remember where you parked your car. When it’s time to truck it on back home, Maps will show you where you parked and will lead you back there, if necessary.

Accessibility Enhancements and Apple Watch
I think this is one of the coolest things that is going to happen with iPhone and Apple Watch. Every hour – at the 50 minute mark of the hour – Apple Watch tells you it’s time to stand. This feature is on by default. However, if you can’t stand, this is a bit of a problem. Now, if you’re a wheel chair user, the iOS Activity App will ping you that it’s time to motor on down the hallway instead of standing and walking around. This is a huge development in accessibility for individuals who can’t stand and took a great deal of research on Apple’s part to pull together. It also shows that Apple really cares for and appreciates ALL of its users

Conclusion
Prognosticating what Apple is going to do for “this year’s” iPhone is a very difficult. It’s going to do “this.” It’s going to do “that.” It’s going to have this or that feature set and/ or hardware changes. All of the rumors are usually nothing more than that… Rumors. Figuring out what Apple is going to do is usually a waste of time. I won’t even write that article anymore. I’ve never been right.

However, when it comes to analysis of the first beta of Apple’s latest iOS beta, yeah… that pretty much curls my toes.

There’s some pretty cool stuff coming in iOS 10. When you pair it with the right hardware combinations (I haven’t seen or heard anything yet that will SPECIFICALLY require a new hardware feature; but its early yet…), iOS 10 is rounding out to be a really cool mobile OS.

I’ll have more on it as the beta cycle matures. Right now, it’s a little too raw for me to install on my iPhone 6; but I should have a full analysis/ review on it before it hits with what should be the iPhone 7.

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What’s with the Sleep of Death Thing..?!

Really..!? Surface Book users are still dealing with driver issues??

I’ve been testing Windows for Microsoft since Windows 95 – that goes back to 1995, so more than 20 years – and if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that Microsoft Windows has ALWAYS had issues with power management. It doesn’t matter if its sleep, hibernation, or simply creating profiles to manage power use… battery life management on any kind of portable computer has been a freakin’ train wreck for Microsoft since someone put Windows on a laptop for the first time.

sleep of death

…and 20 years later, things haven’t changed much.

Based on what I learned late last night, Microsoft is STILL having driver and power related issues on its new Surface Book convertible notebook/ tablet.

Now, between us, if this was just any Windows laptop, I wouldn’t be so surprised or very concerned, for that matter; but Surface Book is a PREMIUM computing product, with some configurations costing well over $4000 USD after tax (when configured with Surface Dock, Microsoft Complete Accident Protection for Surface Book, Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition and Surface Ethernet Adapter). Configurations of Surface Book start at $1499 USD. And that, kids is really the bottom line – this common problem that goes back well over 20 years, is happening with a $4000, Microsoft branded laptop.

You may recall my rant, published the other day, about Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn. I had a reader comment to me that I really must be upset with Microsoft as I spent at least two paragraphs ranting about Surface Pro and Surface Book in THAT article.

Yeah… I think you can say that I am…

Allow me to be blunt here, folks – I’m very bearish on Microsoft over the Surface Pro 3/ Pro 4 and Surface Book for my issues and concerns around OneNote. The bottom line there is a video driver issue. So it’s clear to me, that Microsoft is having a very serious driver development issue that it just can’t see to get around. When I said earlier that this problem goes back to the days of Windows 95 and the first laptops running Windows 95 and Windows 98, I wasn’t kidding. In nearly 21 years of covering Windows and mobile computing, I have never had Microsoft power management features work as designed on all of the hardware I’ve used it on. And nearly every time there’s a problem with Windows, it nearly is always related to some sort of driver conflict (and then nearly always a battery or power management related driver).

I don’t know if this is because Windows runs on just about any and every type of computer hardware in the world (heck, even a Mac can run Windows and do it WELL), meaning that the hardware options are just too diverse to manage, or if it’s because the developers that write this stuff don’t know what they’re doing (the INDIVIDUAL drivers don’t work right) or if it’s just a matter of too many developers writing code that just can’t work and play well with others.

I don’t know; but when entry level buy in for a Surface Book is well over $1500 after taxes, shipping and any necessary/ wanted accessories and warranty, this level of performance is completely unacceptable. At this point, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily have a fix or resolution yet for any of these power/ hibernation/ sleep problems.

Reddit users are having field day with this. Many of them are using traditional support channels to try to address the problem with varying levels of success, but never final resolution. When they finally get fed up and try to return the device to Microsoft, most are being met with the, “Microsoft doesn’t accept any returns after 30 days,” excuse… which is sending some users through the roof.

However, Microsoft is standing firm on its 30 day return policy. If you’ve had it for more than 30 days, it’s yours. Period.

As of two weeks ago (as of this writing), the Sleep of Death issue is still plaguing the Surface Book and many Surface Pro 4’s. How and when Microsoft will resolve this issue is anyone’s guess, however. They haven’t been able to resolve this issue, EVER.

The only work around that I know for it is to NOT use any sleep or hibernation features. While this will require you to shut down the night before and restart your Surface Book cold every morning (or every time you want or need to use it). There are to my knowledge, no known whole or even partial resolutions for this issue, regardless of hardware.

If you sleep your machine and then try to wake it from sleep hours later, be prepared to be forced to pull all power cables/ batteries from it so that it fully shuts down. If you failed to save any work prior to finding your computer in this condition, you’ll lose any unsaved work. Unfortunately, the only thing that I, or anyone, for that matter, knows to do to resolve this particular condition is to power the device completely off and to do a cold restart.

Do you own or use a Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 that is experiencing the Sleep of Death? Do you use any other Windows powered computer that bumps into the problem? Have you found any way to resolve the problem? Have you tried to return your Surface Book to Microsoft after owning it for more than 30 days only to be told that you can’t?

If any of these things have happened to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can either meet me in the Discussion area below or send me email to chris (at) oneitechgear (dot) org.

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WWDC 2016 Part 1 – macOS Sierra

A lot came out of the WWDC Keynote…

Apple WWDC16

There was a great deal of information that came out of Apple’s software only keynote address to press and WWDC 2016 developer attendees.  In this article, I’m going to concentrate on macOS Sierra.

macOS Sierra concentrates on a few different things. The ones that really caught my eye include Continuity, iCloud and Mac Fundamentals.

Continuity blends the lines between your devices. Your entire computing experience with you logging into and unlocking your computer. macOS Sierra now allows you to auto unlock your Mac by simply opening up your Mac while wearing your Apple Watch.  Apple Watch users can simply open the lid of their Mac laptop while wearing their Watch, and the Mac auto unlocks. Proximity and time of flight networking technology insures that it really is YOU opening up your Mac laptop.

Apple is also implementing a universal clipboard that works between your Mac, and all of your iDevices.  When you find something on your phone that you might want to use on your Mac, you don’t have to email or text it to yourself.  Now, the data is in your clipboard, and all you have to do is paste it.  One of the things missing here – at least as of this writing because I haven’t had time to play with Sierra yet – is clipboard history: the ability to remember a set, number of items copied to your clipboard.  Sierra may support this, it may not.

iCloud Drive makes documents available across all of your connected Apple devices whether they be Macs or iDevices, it doesn’t matter.  With Sierra and iOS 10, you get not only all of your documents, but your desktop and its contents available too.

iCloud Drive also now includes a feature called Optimized Storage.  Modern computers – laptops especially – come with SSD’s.  Unfortunately, most of those SSD’s are smaller than the spinning disk hard drives that everyone is used to.  Macs come with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB SSD’s; and even with half a terabyte, your drive can fill up quickly. iCloud Drive will now intelligently make room for new files on your Mac by moving older files from your Mac to the cloud, allowing you to access them there, instead.  iCloud Drive now only REALLY keeps the data that you’re working on, locally on your Mac.

Apple Pay now works on the web through Continuity.  When you’re buying something online on your Mac, you can use your iPhone to pay for it through Apple Pay via Continuity.  All you need is your iPhone handy, and you should be good to go.

For Mac Fundamentals, Apple has taken a logical, straight forward approach.  For example, tabbed windows now appear on every app, Apple created and included with Sierra or third party app.  This change comes at the OS level and no additional third party developer support is needed.

Picture in Picture (PiP) support is now also included at the OS level.  That means you can be writing a really great Mac article (like this one…) while also watching a video in a POP window that will travel with you from Space to Space and will work with full screen apps as well.

Siri is also included as part of Mac Fundamentals. Siri has her usual sass, but includes the ability to ask the system complex queries that you can pin to Notification Center. From there you can even drag and drop them into a document.  The seamless integration of it with other new and existing Apple features make the complete package very compelling, if not ungodly expensive…  However, if you ARE all Apple all the time, AND you have a compatible Mac, then you’re really going to love what you can do with all of your Apple gear.

You can see demos on all of this (as well as the rest of the Apple WWDC Keynote) here.

Speaking of compatible Mac hardware, Apple has also released the Mac hardware compatibility list for macOS Sierra.  Those computers include the following:

2009 and later

  • MacBook
  • iMac

2010 and later

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro

While this list seems pretty decent, there are some pretty obvious computers missing from this list.  In the pre-2010 list, it seems that only MacBooks and iMacs get Sierra love.  Missing from that list are ANY kind of MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, Mac minis and Mac Pros.

For me, this means that my wife will be eligible for the upgrade, but my son-in-law with his Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook, will be left out in the cold. All of the other Macs in the house – my daughter’s Late 2015 13″ MacBook Pro, my Late 2013 15″ MacBook Pro and Mid 2012 13″ MacBook Air – will all get updates.

As of this writing, I’m installing macOS Sierra Developer Beta 1 on the MBA.  I’ll do my best to put it through its paces and then have some kind of write up in the coming weeks.

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Whisky Tango Foxtrot – Microsoft Buys LinkedIn

This was the WTF on the top of my day…

I’ve been a LinkedIn member since the very early 2000’s. Back in the day, you had to be INVITED to join LinkedIn, and you couldn’t connect with just ANYONE. You really had to have done business with a person or had to have worked with them; and you had to know their email address, too. If you didn’t know them, LinkedIn wouldn’t let you connect. In situations like that, you had to have a common contact between you and your desired connection “introduce” you; and then the person you were trying to connect with would very often either ignore you, or decline the connection. Back in the day, actually MAKING a connection on LinkedIn was a BIG deal.

LinkedIn used to be… USED to be… VERY exclusive.

microsoft buys linkedin

Today, it was purchased in total by Microsoft (MSFT) in a $26.2B (that’s Billion with a “B”), all cash deal, that is likely going to be 2016’s most outrageous and totally over paid deal of the year.

If I were the guys at LinkedIn… I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. If I were Microsoft, I would be trying to figure out how long it would be before I’d totally call the acquisition a failure before writing everything off… and if I were a long time, seriously dedicated LinkedIn user (and I am…) I’d keep my eyes open for the next big professional, social networking site. If I were Lynda.com, I’d be doing my best to try to figure out the best way to buy myself out of this deal…

If it doesn’t sound like I have a lot of confidence in Microsoft, or this acquisition, you’d be correct. I don’t. Not one bit.

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s track record for integrating businesses into its core hasn’t been a huge success. They bought Nokia and burnt it to the ground. They’ve totally screwed up their ENTIRE mobile strategy as a result, and I think I can say with 100% certainty that they have totally ruined their chances of EVER having any kind of meaningful presence in the mobile computing space.

On top of this, I have no confidence that OneNote is EVER going to work right on a Surface Pro 3 or Surface Pro 4.

Speaking of the Surface Pro… don’t even get me started on this thing. As much as I like it – and honestly, I really do – it’s not a tablet. It’s not. It’s an ultrabook. At best, it’s a slate computer with a removable keyboard…

THAT’s not a tablet, folks.

That’s a really thin PC with an even thinner keyboard. It runs desktop Windows. It doesn’t run Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. (and a UWP – Universal Windows Platform – does NOT a unified OS make… Just because the same version of Notepad that runs on desktop Windows will also run on Windows Mobile, doesn’t mean that Windows Mobile and desktop Windows are the same operating system. If they were…the same build would run on any Windows compatible device, regardless of form factor, and that’s simply NOT the case…)

Getting back on track… If I can’t trust Microsoft to not screw up my productivity software or produce an ultrabook that doesn’t have ENDLESS driver problems, or to not totally obliterate a mobile platform that, quite honestly should be ruling the world (because it outlasted Blackberry and had THE most universal mail platform that during 2009 – 2011 simply EVERYONE was using and interoperating with), or to not totally cannibalize and destroy THE single, most prestigious name in mobile handsets on the entire planet, how the H3LL am I – or anyone for that matter – going to trust them NOT to screw up the BEST – and really ONLY – professional networking site on the internet?

I have ZERO confidence in Microsoft when it comes to LinkedIn. I mean… when they integrated Skype into their productivity model, it didn’t screw it up at all, did it…?? It took me years to build and curate the pedigree that is my LinkedIn profile.

Quite honestly, LinkedIn is how I landed my last two jobs. If LinkedIn goes sideways, the entire way people look for jobs and network with coworkers and potential, professional network contacts will need to change. This may sound totally cynical, and it likely is, but I don’t have the time, patience or desire to completely rebuild that wheel; and based on what Microsoft did with Surface Mini, has been doing with Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, Windows Phone, Windows 8.x and Windows 10, I have zero confidence that they will succeed with LinkedIn on their watch.

I think my former coworker, Paul Thurrott said it best, “So let’s see. Microsoft is spending four Nokias for a company that will it treat like Skype. Does that sound like a recipe for success to anyone?”

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