Substantiated Rumors for iPhone Tuesday

The following iPhone rumors were confirmed by a leaked, final version of iOS 11…

I’m not one for Apple based rumors. Especially since many of them wind up being nothing but hot air. The only ones that end up having any substance to them are ones like those I’m going to relate to you, below. They come from a credible, internal source – Apple itself. And while its possible for Apple to change their minds and change the names and such before Tuesday 9/12… at this point it’s likely too late.

A leaked version of the “Gold Master” of iOS 11 appears to confirm some key features coming to the next version iPhone. The blockbuster leak, first covered by 9to5Mac, confirms the following will be a part of the next version iPhone:

• Facial unlocking called Face ID
• Confirmation of new iPhone model names – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
• Wireless charging
• Virtual Home button
• Larger iPhone X screen

Here are the brief details on each;

• Face ID will unlock the device and should be available on the iPhone X for certain. It’s possible this may also be available on the iPhone 8/8 Plus.

• Animojis – 3D, animated emoji’s that use your voice and reflect your facial expressions. This is going to require Face ID to work.

• iOS 11 will have new wallpapers for iPhone 8.

• The iPhone X will have a larger display with a notch at the top which will apparently house the ear speaker and FaceTime camera.

• Apple will release a new Apple Watch that will feature cellular connectivity. An iPhone won’t be required for an internet connection. The watch and the iPhone its connected to will share the same phone number.

• Apple will offer a new version of Airpods that will include a redesigned charging case. The new case will likely be the only thing that changes; and will include a light on the outside of the case indicating the charging status of the wireless headset.

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Immediately Speed Up Windows 10

Make an instant impact on your Windows 10 PC’s performance with this must do tweak

If there’s one thing that I know, and know pretty well, it’s that Windows machines nearly always operate below their potential. Windows has a tendency to be a bit of a memory pig. One has only to look at Windows Vista and the performance hit that its version Aero brought to the OS to realize this is the case, and that in the last 10 years SINCE Windows Vista, things haven’t changed too much. Unfortunately, Windows performance hits have just changed their area of impact and haven’t been completely eliminated.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the end of it. You can have a well performing Windows machine without spending an arm and a leg; and that’s important. To be honest, just because you spend a lot of money on a Windows computer – like on a Surface Book, Surface Laptop or Surface Book – doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a lightning fast machine. Depending on the hardware’s specs – and the way you have it configured – even the expensive ones can suffer from poor performance. If your PC is also maxed out as far as the amount RAM is can support, this is even a bigger problem, because, while more RAM can always make things better, your PC has all that it can handle.

However, there are a couple things that you can do to help resolve this, giving YOUR PC, regardless of its cost or specs, the best chance for optimization. If you follow the steps I’ve outlined below, you WILL see a performance bump on your PC, period.

The biggest performance hit to any Windows machine lies in the settings for the following:

• Performance Settings
• Start Up and Recovery Settings

Performance Settings
To adjust these settings, you’ll need to open up Advanced System Properties on your Windows 10 machine. The easiest way to do this is to

1. Click the Start button
2. In the search bar type, “Advanced System Settings,” and press the enter key. The Advanced Systems Settings Dialog box should appear.

Advanced System Settings

 

This how to is going to assume that you’re going to sacrifice most of the eye candy and frills that Windows provides in order to boost your PC’s operating performance. To adjust performance settings, including visual effects, processor scheduling, memory usage and virtual memory, do the following:

1. Click the Settings button in the Performance section.
2. On the Visual Effects tab, click the Adjust for best performance radio button. All the eye candy is going to go when you choose this option. If you simply HAVE to have a couple things back, go into the list and click the stuff that you can’t live without. Please remember that when you do this, you’re going to burn RAM.

Visual Effects

3. Click the Advanced tab. In the Processor scheduling section you can adjust your PC’s performance to give processor precedence to either programs or background services. This is either going to make your apps run faster, or make the stuff that happens behind the scenes run faster. Both will speed up your PC. You just need to decide what’s more important to you – the apps you run or the services they run in the background.

Click the appropriate radio button to make your choice.

Advanced

4. In the Virtual memory section, you can control the size of your swap file. Click the Change button in the Virtual memory section. Here your best bet is to let Windows manage everything, but if you absolutely HAVE to tweak the settings, this is the place to do it.

5. In the Data Execution Prevention tab, you can configure how DEP works. Data Execution Prevention protects your data and PC against damage from viruses and other malware. You can turn DEP on for all apps except the ones you specify.

DEP

Startup and Recovery
To update settings related to how your computer starts up or recovers after a system failure, click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery section. The resulting dialog box has two sections

1. System Startup
2. System Failure

System Startup
The System Startup section allows you to set delay times for system startup when the normal startup process is interrupted and errors out. If the system restarts after a bad shutdown, or if you have a more than one OS installed on your machine, you get to determine the amount of time a recovery or boot screen displays. The default time is 30 seconds.

System Failure
When your system craps out and shuts down unexpectedly, sometimes it will auto reboot, especially if the Automatically restart checkbox is selected. If you’re not careful, you can get yourself into an unrecoverable boot loop with this option. Its best to leave this option unchecked.

Startup

Conclusion
It’s not uncommon for Windows computers to run into performance issues, regardless of how expensive or powerful they are. If you want to resolve those issues, it’s really not all that problematic or troublesome. All you need to do is bring up the Advanced System Properties dialog box on your PC. After a few tweaks, you should see marked speed and performance improvement on your computer.

Setting your computer up to run at its best possible speeds is really nothing more than just a few clicks away.

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Unboxing the Mid-2017 15″ MacBook Pro

There’s a HUGE difference between the latest version and some of Apple’s other 15″ models…

This is the unboxing for Apple’s Mid-2017 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The new unit its VERY thin and VERY light; and VERY lacking in available expansion ports. At least it has four (4) USB-C ports on it instead of just the one that you get on the 12″ MacBook.

The biggest story here, I mean, aside from the lack of expansion ports and of course the new Touch Bar in place of the standard row of function keys is the new device’s size and weight. As part of the overall review, I’ll be comparing the new MacBook Pro to two different models – the Late 2013 and the Mid-2009.

Without ruining the overall, surprise – I’ll have photos as part of the main review – the size and weight comparisons between the three Apple laptops that I have are below.

Size and Weight

Height Width Depth Weight
Mid 2017 0.61 inch (1.55 cm) 13.75 inches (34.93 cm) 9.48 inches (24.07 cm) 4.02 pounds (1.83 kg)
Late 2013 0.71 inch (1.8 cm) 14.13 inches (35.89 cm) 9.73 inches (24.71 cm) 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg)
Mid 2009 0.95 inch (2.41 cm) 14.35 inches (36.4 cm) 9.82 inches (24.9 cm) 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg)

I’ve also got a few device specific accessories that I’ll be going over as well. These are either specific to the Mid-2017 due to its USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connections. This is shipping up to be a very interesting August, kids. A very interesting August, indeed.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see or like me to address as part of the MacBook Pro review or as part of the accessory reviews, please leave a comment or ping me on Twitter, and let me know.

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Microzon Introduces Digital Assistant Corlexa

Or is that Amasoft introduces digital assistant Altana..? I’m confused, man…

In a very surprising move, Microsoft and Amazon have agreed to a partnership where their digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa respective, will begin sharing information by the end of this calendar year, 2018. This will enable each digital assistant to leverage the unique abilities of the other in an unprecedented collaboration and data sharing initiative between the two Seattle, Washing based computing giants.

The partnership was announced on 2017-08-30. The effort began last year and began by a joint statement by both Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to the New York Times. Both CEO’s have indicated that they would also be willing to welcome both Siri and Google’s Digital Assistant to join the effort, but doubt was expressed on whether Apple and Google would be interested in joining the partnership.

Both Bezos and Nadella are touting the partnership as a precisely matched pairing that will complement the different data sets and service specialties that each assistant provides. According to Jeff Bezos, “[both Siri and Alexa have] strengths [that] will complement each other and provide customers with a richer, and even more helpful experience.”

Satya Nadella agreed, saying, “Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

The beginning of the program will require users of one to specifically “open” the other – “Alexa open Cortana and…” or “Cortana open Alexa and…”. You can use either to set a reminder or read email, or use Alexa via Cortana to control smart home devices or other activity.

It’s clear that both Microsoft and Amazon are looking for a deeper, more seamless integration, long term. The idea is that both know what the other can do, and knows the magic words to relay back and forth behind the curtain to make it all happen. All the user will need to do is ask…

The big thing you’re going to have to watch here is your privacy and the amount of metadata that will likely have to fly across the internet in order to give any contextual meaning to your overall experience. Both Alex and Cortana are going to share what they know about you – your contacts and their information (so you can call or text so and so a message…), your calendar, your action items, etc. Both Alexa and Cortana will also have to share your web surfing, video streaming, music playing, etc., habits and be able to know your audio and video likes and dislikes so that it can work its magic without making a mistake.

If you have home automation equipment (light bulbs, thermostats, sprinkler systems, door bells, etc.) hanging off your home network, your comings and goings, utility usage and consumptions, etc. will also be shared and trafficked across the internet.

I am certain that digital assistants that can share this pooled information will be amazing; but you have to wonder… how much is convenience worth? Is my privacy worth giving up for these features?

Only YOU can answer those questions…

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How to Fix Windows 10 Memory Leaks

Windows 10 can sometimes use more RAM than it actually needs. Here’s how to resolve that issue…

Introduction
Ove the years, I’ve noticed that the more you do with your computer, the more RAM you need. Now, that statement likely isn’t surprising for anyone. I mean, it makes perfect sense. If you wanna do more, you’re gonna need more – RAM, processing power, hard drive space – you’re gonna need more. It’s really just that simple.

However, with RAM, Windows has cleanup procedures that often take RAM that was used by one app, but is no longer needed and “cleans it up,” returning it to a larger, common “pool” of memory that any and every application can take needed memory resources from. Unfortunately, this clean up process doesn’t always work correctly, and in some cases, applications can grab RAM and not give it back. These applications don’t manage memory correctly, and continue to consume more and more RAM until you either run out, start using virtual memory (in the form of your swap file growing in size) or until you notice the performance of your PC tanking. It’s this type of memory “leak” that is often a problem for many PC users.

If you find yourself in that last category, don’t worry… you’re not alone. Windows has a history of memory leaks that go back to the earliest days of Windows. Some people will tell you that – depending on the app or applet – Windows versions from 3.x to Windows 95 to Windows Vista, heck even Windows 10, can leak like a sieve.

Fortunately, there ARE things you can do to better manage your resources. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

I Forget What Kinds of Memory my Computer Uses
I get this all the time… many folks don’t know or understand the difference between the different kinds of memory their computers use. So, here, very quickly, is a rundown of the different types of memory a computer uses.

• RAM
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. This is the type of memory that your computer uses to actively think. Its where the OS and other running applications and actively used data are stored and accessed by the PC’s processor(s). It’s different from storage or other kinds of memory (like SD cards) that are used to store data. Once this type of memory loses power, any and all information stored there is lost.

Depending on the type of application or program that is running, your computer may request more and more RAM. As programs end processes or terminate (close or exit), RAM is released back to the operating system where it can be reused by other applications, programs and processes.

Depending on how many applications you have running (as well as the type, as noted above), it is possible for you to run out of available RAM. Your computer can then use any available hard drive or SSD space as “virtual memory,” through a file called a “swap” file. Virtual memory allows you to do more with the limited amount of RAM that you have, but the process slows down your PC, as your computer has to write the information it needs to your storage space, but then read it back when that information is needed.

• Storage
This is your hard drive or SSD; or even in some cases, an SD card or other external storage device. This is where data can be permanently written to and read from. This is where your documents and data – like your pictures, videos and other content – are stored and viewed.

The amount of space available here is almost always larger than your available amount of RAM, and despite the speed of your hard drive or SSD, is nearly always slower than the RAM your PC has. The upside is that you can store a great deal of information here, without fear of it being lost after the power on your PC is turned off. The downside, as I mentioned, is that its slower than the RAM of your PC. Depending on the demands of your computing activities, it’s possible that your PC may need to read and write information to and from your storage faster than your storage can keep up. In cases like this – with large picture or video editing tasks, for example – your storage device can create a bottle neck, requiring you to wait for the hard drive to “catch up” with the needs of your microprocessor.

• VRAM
VRAM or video RAM is a special type of memory that is often directly hard wired to your computer’s graphics card. In the cases where your PC has integrated graphics (instead of a dedicated and separate graphics card), VRAM is simulated by the graphics processor. Your GPU will segregate a set amount or set amount range of available RAM specifically for graphics processing on your computer.

Dedicated VRAM is nearly always faster (or at least as fast) as your PC’s RAM. When your computer’s integrated graphics processor simulates VRAM from available RAM, the amount available to the rest of your PC’s OS and running applications is reduced.

Memory Leaks and How to Plug Them
So, what exactly is a memory “leak?”

A memory leak refers to a loss of available memory to the operating system. Available memory continually decreases due to programs and processes not releasing it back when they are done. Memory continuously gets allocated and is never reusable by the OS or any applications. The lack of available memory causes the PC to use virtual memory, taking up hard drive space. The result is a slower computer.

Several experts in popular forums have identified the Windows 10 system process notskrnl.exe as a major cause of memory leaks, and since memory leaks are software related – and software can change – this is a temporary problem.

Thankfully, there’s a quick fix for all of this. You can use Windows Task Manager to determine what processes and program as using more memory than any other app or process, or they reasonably should. For example, if you open Task Manager, and find that a program like Notepad, for example, is consuming 50% of all of your RAM, it’s a pretty good sign that it has a memory leak.

To check for a memory leak, follow these steps:

1. Open Task Manager
a. Right click the Task Bar
b. Select Task manager from the context menu that appears, OR
c. Press CTRL-Shift-Esc
2. Click More Details
3. Click the Processes tab
4. Click the header in the memory column twice to sort by memory usage

Check the amounts of RAM being used. If you see an app that’s got a disproportionate amount of your RAM being used, it’s a candidate for a memory leak. Possible causes of a memory leak include malware infections, outdated drivers, and just buggy software.

Stopping Memory Leaks
Stopping memory leaks takes a bit of doing; but it’s not hard. Once you figure it out, it’s fairly easy. However, getting it right is hard. There are two basic ways to do this – updating your drivers and programs, and disabling startup items.

Updating your Drivers
If your earlier versions of Windows were running well and you started noticing memory leaks after you upgraded your PC to Windows 10, it’s very probable that Windows 10 and the current version of your peripherals or PC ‘s drivers don’t work and play well together. The best thing to do here, is to check for updates and then install those updates. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.

Update your drivers via Device Manager
Despite Windows 10 redesigned user interface, it’s still possible to get access to Device Manager.

To get access to Device Manager, follow these steps

1. Click the Start button and then type the term, “device manager” into Cortana’s search bar. When Windows locates what you’re looking for, press enter. Device manager will open
2. From Device Manager, search for your custom peripherals.
3. Click the arrow to the left of the peripheral.
4. From the expanded category, find the device’s driver and right click it.
5. Click Update Driver from the context menu that appears.
6. On the following screens, follow the instructions for downloading an update to your component’s drivers.

Download Drivers via the Web
Many of the peripherals that you buy will have either a CD or other media that contains the drivers you need to run your new computer gadget; or will have a link for you to download an install file.

The best way to get the latest version of your gadget’s drivers is to visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest version driver.

Disable Startup Programs
The other way to get rid of memory leaks on your PC is to disable startup programs. If the bad app has a startup component, you can disable it.

To disable startup programs on your PC, follow these steps

1. Open Task Manager
a. Right click the Task Bar
b. Select Task manager from the context menu that appears, OR
c. Press CTRL-Shift-Esc
2. Click More Details
3. Click the Startup tab
4. Click on the startup program you wish to disable.
5. Click the Disable button.
6. Repeat for any other desired program(s) you wish to disable
7. Restart your PC.

With the apps disabled, they won’t load when your PC starts, thus removing any memory leak that may exist.

Conclusion
Windows 10 can be an awesome operating system. However, it’s not without its issues. Its memory management is better than in previous versions of Windows, but it’s not infallible.

Windows still relies on drivers and other apps to help you get work done. Application developers are not all created equally, either. Some of them are obviously better than others, and it’s very possible that you can bump into a badly written, not very well behaved application or utility. When that happens, it’s very possible that you’re headed for a memory leak.

While this can be bad, it’s not the end of the world. Resolving memory leaks is simply a matter of removing the offending app or process. It may take a bit of investigation, but is not too difficult.

I’ve given you some really easy to follow steps for a few solid methods for plugging memory leaks. Eliminating leaks will help keep your PC running at its peak performance capabilities.

Have you noticed your PC acting strangely? Have you noticed performance issues when you run specific applications or utilities; or perhaps after you installed a new application? If you started noticing performance issues after you visited a new internet site, you may have contracted some malware. Assuming that this is NOT the case, then giving my advice a go, can and likely will restore your PC to its former performance glories.

If you’ve had a memory leak that you’ve plugged, I’d love to hear about it. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and tell me all about it?

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I got KO’ed by Kanoa

I think this is the last product I’m going to pre-order…

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are pretty cool sites. They allow entrepreneurs and product visionaries to bring their product to life and perhaps… just perhaps… begin a startup company that takes the world by storm and creates a revolution. That happened with Pebble… but those successes, to be honest, are few and far between, and unfortunately, for Pebble, things don’t always end with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pebble was acquired by Fitbit and that platform have essentially died and are no longer around.

I’ve backed a total of 5 projects on Kickstarter, the latest being the Nomatic Backpack and Travel Pack, and after what happened to me yesterday, they will be the LAST pre-order I make.

EVER.

A little over 14 months ago, as of this writing, I pre-ordered a set of wireless earbuds. At that time, Apple’s AirPods were all the buzz. There were folks out then – and still today – where that form factor doesn’t quite fit right or work; and, like me, were looking for an alternative.

I found that alternative via Kanoa; and up until now, I’ve been content. At least I thought I WOULD be content, if and when, the product arrived and I had my pre-order fulfilled. Unfortunately for me and a number of different “backers,” that isn’t going to happen.

Yesterday – 2017-08-23 – Kanoa closed down without any warning.

Yesterday, all Kanoa backers got a note from the company, directing them to an “important notice.” This notice describes a “roadblock” that the company has encountered.

Just last week, the company started shipping earbuds to some – not all – but some, Batch 1 backers (those that ordered prior to 2016-02-27). As of this writing, the company has ceased operations, laid off all their staff, and have killed all their social media sites (including their Facebook page, and Twitter account). Any remaining Batch 1 orders and all Batch 2 orders will go unfulfilled… at least until further notice.

Kanoa had their backer(s) pull all of their funding. I’m not certain if that’s due to issues with their smartphone side software – which went through a couple of beta rounds via Apple’s Test Flight and then was formally released via the iOS App Store on 2017-08-13 – or if that’s due to some bad press that may have been received via some sketchy beta reviews; or if there were additional production/ manufacturing issues/ bugs/ delays, etc. Whatever the problem was, Kanoa’s backer(s) pulled their funding, leaving the company in a state of limbo.

At this point, anyone that has backed the product and hasn’t received their earbuds can expect to NOT have their order fulfilled. While Kanoa is trying to procure new funding or even a sale to a technology company, it’s clear that this is just another startup that failed to launch and failed to fulfill their vision.

Unfortunately, for all who backed the project and preordered their earbuds, that money is gone; and your likelihood of either getting your money back or having your preorder fulfilled is slim to none, at best.

So for me… I’m not backing any additional Kickstarter projects (I was never a big Indiegogo fan…), or preordering any product where the preorder requires the full purchase price to be collected prior to shipment.

Should you want to read Kanoa’s notification to all of its backers, you can see it here.

This year has been full of disappointments. First Olio, now Kanoa.

I really need to stop backing losing horses…

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Top Privacy Settings for Windows 10

In light of all the new malware out there, you should check and update your Windows 10 privacy settings…

Introduction
If there’s one thing that really gets my dander up, its malware. Saying that it drives me a bit nuts is an understatement. I work too hard to keep my PC running as fast and efficiently as it can. I don’t need some random jerk ruining my work simply because they want to make a quick buck.

All that being said, Windows is one of the biggest malware traps in the world. It runs on nearly every enterprise PC ever deployed, and runs the majority of consumer PCs as well. There are some things that you can do to protect yourself, though; and quite honestly, you should do them. I’ve run into malware before, and its not fun. If you want to protect yourself, follow the advice I’ve given in those two linked articles. You can further protect yourself by adjusting some privacy settings in Windows 10.

While you may not want to do all of these, if you implement them all, you’re likely going to lock yourself down pretty tightly. At that point, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. However, please note that if you implement all of these, you’re going to shut down some pretty useful Window 10 features. You have to balance your need for privacy with your need for safety. In the end, this is all on you…

Shut Down Cortana
Cortana is only your best friend in the world when she knows nearly everything about you. The more she knows, the more she can do. However, the more she knows, the more your data is “out there.” Cortana interacts with you via voice and through the searches you do when you type questions or search criteria into Windows 10’s search box located on the Task Bar.

You can stop Cortana from getting to know you by following the steps I’ve outlined below. However, if you do this, there are going to be a few repercussions:
1. You won’t be able to speak to Cortana any longer. When you turn her off, you totally get the “talk to the hand” experience from her.
2. She forgets all of the information that she had been gathering on you. If you later change your mind and wish to turn Cortana back on, you’ll be building your relationship from scratch again.

To turn off Cortana,
1. Go to Settings – Privacy – Speech, inking and typing.
2. Under Getting to know you, tap the Turn off speech services and typing suggestions button
3. Under Manage cloud info, tap the Manage my voice data that’s stored in the cloud with my Microsoft Account, link and clear all the data that Cortana has stored on you

Please remember that Cortana remembers all of your data as part of OneDrive. Keeping that information out of potentially prying eyes may be important to you. If you don’t want information on your stored in the cloud, this last step is important.

Turn off Location Services
Location Services are used by your Windows 10 device to help locate you geographically. Yes, this means GPS services are being used on your Windows 10 laptop. There are a number of different apps and security settings that that will use Location Services. Maps and Weather are probably the most obvious of these.

If you’re not using a Windows 10 Mobile device (and to be honest, I don’t know of ANYONE who is…), this means that unless your Windows 10 PC has a cellular connection (some do, some don’t…), your actual location and its accuracy is managed by Wi-Fi, though even in a mobile data world, anyone with a smartphone will tell you that your device and its location services will complain to no end when Wi-Fi is turned off.

When your device does report its location, Windows 10 keeps track of that for up to 24 hours and allows apps with permission to access the location and any related or associated data. When and if you turn off location services, apps and services that require that information won’t be able to function properly. In those cases, you may have to manually set your location.

To manage Location Services, follow these steps:

1. Go to Settings – Privacy – Location
2. Under Location,
a. Under Location service, slide the On/ Off slider off to turn Location Services completely off
b. To manage Location Services for your device, tap the Change button and change the position of the One/ Off slider
3. Under Default location,
a. To manage your device’s Default location, the Set default button. This will bring up Maps.
b. Follow the instructions on setting your device’s default location.
4. Under Location history
a. To clear the location history maintained on your device, tap the Clear button under, Clear history on this device.
5. To manage apps that use Location Services
Those apps that make use of Location Services will be listed in the, “Choose apps that can use your precise location” section.
a. Review this list of apps
b. Tap the slider of those apps you wish to change the service status of.
c. Turning an app on will allow that app to use your location while it runs. It may also leave a service stub running in the background so that it always has location specific data for you
d. Turning an app off will prevent that app from using location specific data.
e. Cortana’s use of Location Services can be managed in the Speech, inking and typing section of Privacy.
6. Action Center Settings
a. The Action Center by default has a toggle for turning Location Services on and off.
i. Display the Action Center
ii. Tap the Location Services tile to turn Location off.
iii. Tap it again to turn it on.

Stop Synchronization Services
Windows 10 synchs with a number of different services. If you sign into Windows 10 with your Microsoft Account, your settings, including your passwords, may be synched across a number of Windows 10 devices. If you turn off synching, your settings and passwords won’t be synched to your other devices, and the unified experience that Microsoft is trying to perpetuate throughout its OS, regardless of type, brand or vendor, is seriously deprecated.

There are two ways to handle this. You’ll need to insure that you’re connected to the internet as well. Once connected, you can stop synching entirely, or you can toggle the sync settings for an individual app. To adjust these settings, you need to visit the Settings page for Sync.

To adjust your synchronization settings, follow these steps:

1. Go to Settings – Accounts – Sync your settings
2. Under Sync Settings, you can turn sync on or off. Turning it off will turn it off for all services.
3. If you wish to control sync for specific items, under Individual sync settings, you can control
a. Theme
b. Internet Explorer Settings
c. Passwords
d. Language Preferences
e. Ease of Access, and
f. Other Windows Settings

If you wish to turn off notification synching, open Cortana and go to Settings – Send notifications between devices. Here, you can toggle notification synching on or off. You can also edit your sync settings to manage your different signed in devices.

Lock Down your Lock Screen
One of the neatest things that Windows 10 can do is provide a customized lock screen on each of your devices. Depending on your privacy concerns, you can have some convenient information – like text messages or your next appointment – display on your lock screen. However, depending on your privacy concerns, you may not want to do that.

Guessing that this is likely the case, because who wants to have that kind of personal information just hangin’ out there for anyone who passes by your PC to see, you can actually prevent this information from displaying there, if you wish. In fact, there are likely three things that you don’t want appearing on your lock screen – however, most of them start and stop with your email address and your appointment notifications.

In order to secure your lock screen, you’re going to have to make changes in a few different places. To make changes to your Lock Screen, follow these steps:

1. Go to Settings – System – Notifications and actions
2. Turn off Show notifications on the lock screen

After you have done this, you’ll need to attend to Cortana, if you haven’t already. There are a couple of things to take care of here.

To turn off Cortana on your Lock Screen,

1. Go to Settings – Personalization – Lock screen
2. Click the link, Cortana lock screen settings
3. Cortana’s lock screen settings will pop up out of the Start Menu. Turn OFF the following items
a. Let Cortana respond to, “Hey Cortana.”
b. Use Cortana even when my device is locked
c. Send notifications and information between devices
4. Under Choose an app to show detailed status
a. Remove all icons. Tap them and choose None from the fly out menu

The downside to turning all of this off is that your device becomes localized to itself and Windows 10 loses some of its interconnected intelligence.

You can also hide your email address from the log-in screen. This will keep your email address away from unauthorized scrutiny.

To hid your email address on your log in screen,

1. Go to Settings – Accounts – Sign in options – Privacy
2. Turn off Show account details on sign in screen

This option really doesn’t have a downside to it. Not showing your email address on the lock screen doesn’t deprecate any functionality. This just keeps it away from prying eyes.

Turn off your advertising ID
Each Microsoft account has a unique advertising ID that Microsoft uses to collect information on you and your computing habits. It allows Microsoft to deliver a unique advertising experience to you across different platforms.

It’s annoying as hell.

If you sign in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, you’re going to get personalized ads following you all over your PC. You’ll see them in apps and even in the OS itself, like in the Start Menu. Thankfully, you can stop the madness and get off the advertising merry go round.

To turn off ads in Windows 10, follow these steps,

1. Go to Settings – Privacy – General
2. Turn off Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to your based on your app usage.

You may still see ads on your PC, but they won’t be personalized. Turning this feature off prevents personalized ads from polluting your Windows 10 computing experience. However, as I mentioned, it won’t keep you from seeing ads when you use your Microsoft Account on other platforms. If you wish to remove ads on other platforms as well, you can either use an ad blocking utility or you can head over to Microsoft’s advertising opt out page.

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Another One Bites the Dust – So long Olio

I’m sorry to report that Olio Devices didn’t make it… as far as I can tell.

Back in 2015, I spent most of the year doing an extended round up of smart watches. I’m sorry to report that most of the devices that I reviewed as part of that round up, including

The Microsoft Band
The Fitbit Surge, and the
Pebble Time

have all met a rather disappointing demise. None of these devices are available for purchase today, not even two years since I published each review (or there abouts…)

Microsoft introduced Band in December of 2014; and it was one of the HOTTEST items for that Holiday season. I was fortunate enough to get one for both me AND my wife. Unfortunately, they weren’t very comfortable and the battery life sucked. Microsoft followed Band up with Band 2; but then discontinued the device in the middle of 2016. The entire team had their direction refocused on Microsoft Health; but even THAT is nowhere to be found. It seems Microsoft’s foray into wearables and in the health market doesn’t have a consumer presence to speak of, and never will.

The Pebble Time wasn’t as well received as the original Pebble or even the Pebble Steel. As such, Pebble sold itself to Fitbit; and they laid off all their people, closed their software store, and called it a day in December of 2016. They were the first on the market with any real success, but they didn’t last, unfortunately.

Since Fitbit purchased Pebble, there really hasn’t been anything out of Fitbit of note. While they have released the Alta and the Alta HR, those devices aren’t innovative at all and don’t offer any new features that the Charge 2 does.

Fitbit’s best asset is its software, the Fitbit App. It’s really some of the best fitness tracking bits that I’ve seen. Unfortunately, their hardware leaves a great deal to be desired. I was hoping that Fitbit might be able to do something innovative with the IP from Pebble, but it hasn’t emerged yet, and we’re coming up to a year since the acquisition. If “it” isn’t out by the 2017 Holiday Buying Season (whatever “it” might be…), they likely aren’t going to do anything of note with it.

So, the Band and Pebble are gone; and the Surge is a huge non-influencer (like the rest of Fitbit, in my opinion…). Unfortunately, the other big watch player I reviewed in 2015 is also now… gone.

The Olio Model One has also been discontinued. Their website is still active, and has been most of the year, but every model of every collection they have, including Steel, Black, Rose Gold, and Gold, indicate that they are sold out. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, this has been the case for the better part of the year (2017).

I got in touch with Steve Jacobs, the former CEO of Olio Devices, and he confirmed that th company has indeed been sold. While the organization existed for four years, this was apparently their entire overall goal (as it is with many start ups…). Olio was hoping to be purchased by someone… whom that might be, however, is unknown.

While Mr. Jacobs and I are acquaintances, and we did have direct and open communications during 2015 and the early part of 2016, I can only assume that part of the conditions of the sale of Olio Devices included keeping the entire deal confidential. Steve simply won’t give up the goods on who purchased Olio, or what they plan to do with the site, the watches or the IP.

As it stands, right now, the site, while still active, is a ghost town. The software used to manage the smartwatch, Olio Assist (iTunes App Store Link, Google Play Store Link) while technically available if you’ve previously downloaded it, may or may not be available for new users to download.

The biggest problem with it, however, is the way the software was designed to work. As of this writing, its nearly completely deprecated.

Olio watches are designed to pair with an Android or iPhone smartphone. The device software must be running on your smartphone – not just merely installed – while using the watch. For most smartwatches, this is usually enough. However, Olio Assist has an additional dependency. In order for its digital assistant to work, Olio Assist must communicate with a central server. Olio Assist only communicates with this server when the watch is paired and actively in range of the smartphone, with the software running.

The central server knows exactly which watches are connected to which smartphones. It provides data to support ALL of its complications, including weather, time zones AND your schedule. That last one kinda surprised me. Olio Assist doesn’t synch contact or calendar data between your phone and the watch, it synchs it to the central server first, and the server provides data to the complication, back through your smartphone and the app.

With Olio Devices now no longer functioning as an active entity, all of their servers are off line. The only thing that the watch can do now is get notifications, because they are sent directly to the watch from the smartphone itself. The watch will also notify you of incoming calls and will still control music playback. However, everything else… every other feature that Olio Assist provided, Schedule and Weather complications, time zones, Rules, Earlier, Now and Later Services, and ANY part of its Digital Assistant, now no longer work due to an interruption of communications with their central servers.

Steve Jacobs also indicated to me that it is very possible that even those services that are currently providing value, may also stop working. If this is the case, then the watch is living on borrowed time; and the $450 to $650 price tag that many paid for this device may soon become a huge issue.

Most luxury watches costing this much work for years, if not decades. This apparently won’t be the case with the Olio Model One… and that’s hugely disappointing.

My suggestion for you is this – buy an Apple Watch. It’s the only one that I reviewed that is really still around and that is being improved on. Apple will be releasing watchOS 4 in September of 2017. If you must have an Android Wear watch, make sure you get something that is either made or branded by Google directly or from Samsung. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to figure out how to make an expensive orphaned device work after it’s no longer being actively supported.

And that… totally sucks.

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