It’s Supposed to be Compatible

There’s always a chance that something that’s supposed to work, won’t…

So, many – well most of you, actually – don’t know; but I was in a motor vehicle accident just after Christmas 2017. Someone lost control of their vehicle and smashed into the rear driver’s side door of my car on a very, busy US interstate highway during the evening rush hour, commute home. I spun out over three lanes of oncoming traffic and hit the wall, going about fifty (50) MPH (80.5 KPH), It wasn’t pretty; and I’m mending as well as could be expected.

Unfortunately, my car was totaled; and I was forced to purchase a new vehicle.

I purchased a 2014 Toyota Highlander XLE. It’s a nice vehicle; and much bigger and much more modern than the 2003 Camry LE that I was driving. The vehicle however, has a couple of foibles that I wasn’t completely aware of when I bought it. Unfortunately, for me, they all evolve around the entertainment system and my new, iPhone 8 Plus.

So, here’s the problem, in a nut shell – the Entune radio hardware and software won’t consistently mount the device. Because it won’t consistently mount the device, the vehicle’s USB port won’t read data from the device consistently, and won’t charge the phone consistently. When the USB port mounts the phone, everything works like you would expect it to. The problem is, as I stated, the radio won’t do that consistently.

I purchased my vehicle from the CarMax in Naperville, IL. When I noticed that the vehicle and my iPhone 8 Plus weren’t getting along, I took the vehicle back to CarMax’s Service department.

After spending a day on the vehicle, CarMax told me that my car simply wasn’t compatible with my phone. According to the vehicle’s owner’s manual, everything should work. However, CarMax – who said they called the local Toyota dealership – said THEY were told by Toyota, that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus weren’t compatible with the Entune Radio in ANY Toyota vehicle.

So, I did what any good QA testing guy would do. I grabbed every iPhone I had in the house, my 8 Plus, my wife’s 7 Plus, my son in law’s iPhone 6 and my son’s iPhone 5s. As a matter of fact, NONE of them worked with my new car’s radio correctly. I couldn’t get it to work with any of the four different iPhone versions I had, with any of the Lightning cables I had (both MFI and non-MFI certified cables).

At that point, I contacted my local Toyota dealership.

They told me that everything should work. It was all compatible. While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus weren’t specifically listed as compatible, I was told without a doubt they should work.

Toyota asked to see the vehicle.

My office is closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have an appointment with a local Toyota Dealer to examine the car. According to them, the car either needs to have its software updated, or will need to have its software reflated to insure that everything is working correctly. If that doesn’t work, then we’re looking at either a USB port replacement or a full radio replacement, or both.

As I am writing this prior to the actual appointment, I will update everyone on the outcome, but at this point, you have to wonder how motor vehicle entertainment systems that come with your car work or continue to work as needed when you upgrade your phone. I mean, most cars last at least 10 years or more. How do you keep everything working correctly as your car ages? You’re likely to upgrade your phone at least five (5) times during a ten year period. Your car needs to keep working with the devices you have (or probably, more appropriately…); your devices need to keep working with your car as it ages.

This, among other things, will be asked of my Toyota service technician when I see them early Monday morning.

I will keep everyone posted…

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Check for Windows 10 Updates

Quickly check for Windows 10 system updates with this handy how-to…

Sometimes, checking for updates on your Windows 10 PC can be a pain. You either have to swipe open the Action Center and then open Settings, or get to Settings through the Start Menu. Then, you have to scroll down to Updates and Security and click it. While this isn’t a huge deal, it can be sort of a pain, as it involves a few steps.

There’s actually a much easier way of taking care of manually checking for updates. This cool tip, however, is going to require you to make some modifications to your Windows 10 computer’s Registry.

If you’re not comfortable making Registry modifications, then you might want to skip this one. However, if you’re undaunted by the challenge, and you’d like to put the ability to check for Windows 10 updates on a right click context menu off the Desktop, then you should follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1
1. Open Regedit
2. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell
3. Select the “Shell” folder in the left pane
4. Right Click the “Shell” folder in the left pane
5. Click New – Key from the context menu that appears
6. Name the new Key (folder) “Check for Updates” without the quotes and press enter
7. Select the “Check for Updates” folder in the left pane
8. Right Click the “Check for Updates” folder in the left pane
9. Click New – Key from the context menu that appears
10. Name the new Key (folder), “command” (all lower case) without the quotes and press enter. You’re going to create two (2) string values, one in each of the folders (Keys) that you’ve created.
11. Right click the “Check for Updates” Key (folder).
12. Select New – String from the context menu that appears.
13. Name the String, “SettingsURI” without the quotes.
14. Double click the new string you just created and enter the following value into the “Value data” field: ms-settings:windowsupdate-action

Step 2
15. Right click the “command” Key (folder).
16. Select New – String from the context menu that appears.
17. Name the String, “DelegateExecute” without the quotes.
18. Double click the new string you just created and enter the following value into the “Value data” field: {556FF0D6-A1EE-49E5-9FA4-90AE116AD744}

If you’ve done everything correctly, then once you right click on the Windows 10 Desktop, you should see an entry in the context menu called Check for Updates. Clicking it, will launch Settings – Updates and Security – Windows Update – Check for Updates, and will automatically… check for updates.

This added shortcut will DRASTICALLY cut down on the amount of time it takes to manually check for updates to your Windows 10 computer. However, you should know that your Windows 10 PC will automatically check for updates on its own. It will also download them in the background and likely install most of them, without you ever knowing that you needed to do… anything. However, if you want to stay on top of things, as I do, then this is the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to check for updates as often as you want or need.

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The Day the Internet Died

In an expected 3-2 party line vote, the FCC has voted to end Net Neutrality…

Well, this was disappointing; but not unexpected…

Today, the United States Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal the Obama-era internet regulations aimed at insuring that the internet didn’t have pay to access lanes for consumer oriented content. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai cast the landmark tying breaking vote, providing ISP’s like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon the power to control what content consumers can access.

Many different groups, including Democrats, many movie studios and companies like Google owner Alphabet and Facebook had urged the FCC to keep the content neutral rules barring service providers from blocking or slowing access to content. Pai is a Republican, appointed by President Donald Trump.

Consumer advocates and trade groups representing content providers have planned to launch a legal challenge, aimed at preserving those rules. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a statement he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the reversal. He called the vote “a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet.” ‘

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, also a Democrat, said prior to the vote that Republicans were “handing the keys to the Internet” to a “handful of multi-billion dollar corporations.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that the 2015 rules were heavy handed, stifled competition and [limited] innovation among service providers, “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia. To the contrary, the internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success,” he said on Thursday.

The problem that he is refusing to lend credibility to, however, is that service providers like AT&T, Comcast (Xfinity) and Verizon have CLEARLY indicated, that they want consumers to use THEIR content networks and will institute pay for performance (speed) premiums against competing services like Netflix and Hulu (as well as others). Those premiums will ultimately be passed down to individual consumers and users.

Internet access with speeds suitable for streaming and general computing and browsing at the same time for many is already very expensive. With the focus shifting to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and to streaming boxes like AppleTV and Roku, or an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, having affordable, non-taxed, high speed bandwidth available is probably one of the more important services you have coming into your home today.

That service is going to provide all of your TV service in the near future, if not now (if you’ve cut the cord). Its very clear to me that having an ISP free of neutrality restrictions is going to lead to additional charges and fees being passed on to the consumer.
At the end of the day – and this is very frustrating – no one has any idea yet of just what and how the removal of the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules will mean to consumer delivered ISP and consumer content services. However, its at least understood that there are likely fees and surcharges coming in a play to “play” scenario that is expected to be passed on to the end user.

Its this anticipated pay to “play” tax that most are concerned with, especially end users. Its clear that ISP’s like Comcast, who owns NBC and its related assets may give preferential bandwidth to their own content and make competitors like Netflix and Applet pay a surcharge or tax to insure that their services stream with the same bandwidth priority over Comcast’s backbone. This is where most of the consumer concern comes from.

What do you think is going to happen with Net Neutrality? Is the removal of the 2015 Obama-era rules a problem? Did they restrict competition or protect consumer interests? Is the internet freer now than it was before, or is the internet just more expensive to use now? Do you believe that the larger regional or national ISP’s will take advantage of this new development and begin charging clients surcharges or fees for accessing competing or different streaming services other than the ones they already partner with or are different from their own offerings?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts?

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With Apple Watch Series 3, $10 Ain’t $10

If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 with active LTE service, you’re likely in for a nasty surprise.

apple watch

Back when the Apple Watch Series 3 first launched earlier in the Fall of 2017, carriers promised that LTE service for your new Series 3 Apple Watch, would cost only $10 USD per month; and it does.


In the beginning, carriers offered three months of free service and waived the activation fees. At this point, everyone that got their Series 3 Watch on the day it was first made available at the Store, is likely being charged for service. However, as I mentioned earlier, $10 bucks isn’t always JUST $10 bucks. Both AT&T and Verizon are charging additional fees. So, your $10 bucks is likely closer to $12 to $14 bucks per month.

In California, Verizon Wireless users also have an additional $1.55 fee on top of their $10 per month, service charge. In North Carolina, AT&T users are being charged an additional $4.39 per month, bringing their bill near $15 for LET service on their Series 3 Apple Watch. These fees can be higher in other states.

If you thought you might try to avoid all of the fees by deactivating your service and then reactivating it when you need or want it, you’re also in for a nasty surprise. There are activation fees that come with this activity. You’re going to get hit with the standard $25 activation fee every time you go to bring your watch back on line.

For example, when you cancel and re-add a line, on Verizon, you’re going to get hit with that $25 activation fee I mentioned. Suspending your service will hit you with a $10 per month fee (what the normal service will cost – so you’re paying for it anyway).

Because Apple Watch Series 3 uses NumberShare on Verizon, it’s not considered a prepaid device, so you can’t skip a month of service. Per Verizon, you really have only two options:
1. Suspend your service for up to 3 months at a time; but this is going to cost you $10 a month. This is the normal service fee, so you’re not saving anything here. You’re actually giving them $10 a month to NOT use the LTE service on the Watch, which doesn’t make sense.
2. Deactivate the Watch completely. That’s going to wipe it from the account, but you’re need to restart everything over again if you want to bring it back; and that’s going to cost you at least the (previously waived) $25 activation fee. There’s also a recurring charge. This means that Vs. will basically charge you for two and a half months of service every time you turn the Watch off and on again.

There’s also a possibility that you’ll run into activation issues when you start and stop service. The Watch has its own number; but shadows your phone’s number when placing and receiving calls. Sometimes this whole process can create issues, as reported by some; but why that happened to those that bumped into that problem, isn’t clear.

If you have a Series 3 Apple Watch and have bumped into issues like this, reach out to me and help me understand what happened to you.

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FEATURE REVIEW – Unihertz Jelly Pro

The Jelly Pro takes on the Goliath’s of the Android World with the smallest form factor since 2006 (or so)…

I remember back in the day – and I’m really targeting the 2006 – 2009 time frame, just before, and right after the face of the smartphone industry changed with the impact of the release of the original iPhone in 2007, small one-handed devices were all the rage. At this point, the world was used to small, one hand operable candy bar styled phones. Phones just like the Jelly Pro.

I’ve got one for review; and I’ve already done an of this phone and have posted it for everyone to see. I’ve been using it on and off – the intended use of the device – over the past few weeks or so and I think I finally have enough information to pass along to everyone. The Jelly Pro is NOT intended to be used as a daily driver. It’s meant to be a go-to phone when you want or need something small and still want or need to stay connected. Let’s take a look at the device and see if the Jelly Pro is something that might help you.

The Unihertz Jelly Pro is 3.7 inches tall, 1.75 inches wide and 0.6 inches thick. It weighs just 2.1 ounces and is so small, it can fit in the coin pocket of your jeans without any issues, problems or forcing. It slides right in. The device is so small that it really reminds me of the Zoolander Phone – The Veer.

Zoolander Phone - The Veer

The Jelly Pro supports full 4G LTE speeds and VoLTE; and should work on just about any GSM network. It also has dual SIM slots, allowing the device to support two phone numbers at the same time. This is totally amazing in a device that’s really this small. However, the device has a bit more going for it than its size. Let’s dig in…

When you’ve got a device this small, there has to be a few draw backs. If there’s one spot that’s going to suffer the most, it’s the display. The Unihertz Jelly Pro’s display is 2.45 inches in size and has a resolution of 240×432 pixels. This is NOT a display that you’re going to want to watch any kind of video on, though the device is clearly capable of playing and streaming video, the screen is so small, it’s not something you’d want to use to watch video on unless it was all that you had.

In fact, if you’re a bit older, or have poor or aging eyesight, this display is going to be a challenge. Its small. It’s very small… Especially by today’s standards where displays for phones like the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus are 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively. The Jelly Pro’s display is approximately 1/2 of the size of the smaller, iPhone 8. It has 201 PPI (pixels per inch) and supports 16M colors. It’s also covered with scratch resistant glass, though I can’t find any information on whether its Gorilla Glass or something else. (So, assume something else, at this point, as Gorilla Glass would be a huge marketing point for a device of this size.)

The interesting thing here is that the phone’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness – The phone’s size. It’s too small to do anything except make calls. Trust me, I’ve really tried…

The on screen keyboard is so small, it’s amazing that you can type any words… in English (or your language of choice). You’re going to rely on autocorrect a lot on this device. You’re also going to use speech to text a lot with this device, too. It’s going to be very difficult to use, especially if you’ve got big hands. I have had a lot of trouble with the on screen keyboard, even with my slender fingers.

Don’t get me wrong. The Jelly Pro has a decent screen. It’s just too small to do any texting with. It’s also too small to reply to any email with or to do any real typing with. If you’re a heavy texter, even if this is just an occasional device, it’s not going to be one that you’re going to want to send any messages with.

The rest of the device actually has some decent specs… with one small exception – the battery. The device has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. As long as you have a decent data plan, this device should be able to handle audio (and honestly, video) streaming without an issue. It should also be able to handle local storage of some media and entertainment content as well. At 1.1GHz, the processor should be able to handle streaming audio without any concerns with lag or other processing issues.

As I mentioned earlier, the only other issue that the device has is the battery. Its only 950mAh. This means that you’re going to be charging the device at least twice during the day, especially if you try use the device all day.

The device will NOT last a whole day on a single charge. It simply won’t. The battery is just too small. You’re also going to want to make certain you have a microUSB cable handy. The device charges via microUSB, and since the battery is so small, being without one, especially if this is the only device you carry when you’re using it, is going to be a huge mistake. Charge as often as you can with this one…

The Full 360

The front of the Jelly Pro and the HTC One.  Boy this thing is small!
02 Jelly Bottom Edge
The bottom edge of both devices
03 Jelly Right Edge
The right edge of both devices. You can see the Jelly Pro’s microUSB port and power button here.
04 Jelly Top Edge
The top edge of both devices. The Jelly Pro’s 3.5mm headphone jack is located here.
Jelly Left Edge
The left edge of both devices. You can see the volume buttons on the Jelly Pro, here.

The device comes with Android 7 Nougat. I haven’t heard any news related to the Jelly Pro running Android 8 Oreo. The one good thing that is going on, however, is that Unihertz is actively updating the device. When I turned the device on last month, I immediately got an update. I got another one recently as well. This kind of active support by the OEM really makes a huge difference. I’m very pleased that Unihertz is providing this much support on this device. It means a lot when the OEM takes an active role in a device’s life cycle.

The Unihertz Jelly Pro started through a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign. The device only retails for $129 USD and is available directly from their their website. For the price, this is a huge deal. The device has enough power to handle most of what you would want to do with a mid to low level device; and does it affordably.

This device is cheap enough, and it’s got decent performance. Unfortunately, the Jelly Pro has got some serious issues with its battery life and the feature that’s supposed to be its biggest draw – its size. The screen is too small to type on. It’s too small to really watch any video content on. The battery is also too small to last you through a day with a single charge, ESPECIALLY if you use it to play any kind of game or watch any video. You’re going to need to charge it at least 2-3 times during the day.

The biggest premise of the phone – its cheap enough to use as a situational phone, is seriously hampered by its size, which is one of its biggest selling points.

Size in a device like this is important. That and price are the reasons why you buy it. However, its display size make it very difficult to use and the size of its battery makes it something that you’re going to have to charge often (at least once every 4-5 hours) under normal use, more frequently if you use it for any kind of streaming content, especially games and video.

While the cost of the phone isn’t all that high, buying something like this to use in place of say, an iPhone 8 or iPhone X or even a Note 8 when you don’t want to take the big device, is high enough that you probably won’t want to lay down an extra $130 bucks when you just spent $1000 or more dollars on the big dog, which is very disappointing…

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