Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall - Breaking It Down

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GALAXY NOTE 7 RECALL

If you are a Samsung fan, you've probably heard about the Galaxy Note 7 recall by now, especially if you were one of the first in line to get it, and you own one. I've had lots of questions about this issue, so we're going to spend a little time and break this down.

So why did Samsung recall all of the Note 7 smartphones? This was due to a problem with the battery cells failing on 35 phones (as of today's date) which caused them to catch fire, and also explode. Of the million or so phones that are out there, this is an extremely small number. But if you're one in a million that has a phone blow up in your face, I don't think you'd appreciate being told that it’s only a low percentage that fail.

The problem happens due to bad battery cells that overhead when the lithium layers inside the battery are compromised, and short circuit. This is something that has been more of a common problem with iPhones since the iPhone 5, but I suppose Samsung wanted to join the bad battery party and share in the attention.

The reason we are seeing so many battery problems as of late is because the design engineers are making thinner phones, thus needing thinner batteries, but with more power than their predecessors. When you smush the battery layers to minimum thickness, and add more power, you have more of a chance for failure to occur. There’s no way around it.

All of these batteries come from China, from some of the same suppliers, and from the same manufacturing processes. And it’s going to take a long time to get all of these phones replaced. You can’t simply pop out the battery and replace it like you could with the older Samsung phones (from Galaxy S4 and earlier). The back battery plate is glued on, and you have to remove a few things to free up the battery that is directly wired into the logic board.

You’ve got a couple of options here in the US for having your phone replaced. First, you can turn in your Note 7 and wait for the replacement. You’ll probably need a backup phone while you wait. Or, you can trade your Note 7 in for an S7 Edge, or regular Galaxy S7 and be refunded the difference in price (I think it’s around $100).

You can call Samsung at 1-800-SAMSUNG to get your exchange kicked off. For all your trouble, they are offering $25 phone bill credit to most major suppliers, so make sure you ask about that. You can either send in your phone directly to Samsung, or work with the retailer where you bought the smartphone originally.

Is it worth all this trouble to own the Galaxy Note 7? I say absolutely YES. I own the Galaxy Note 5, and I can’t live without the S Pen stylus. If you’re a big fan of the S Pen and all of the advanced features that come with it, it’s worth replacing and sticking with the Note 7. It will be the most advanced smartphone on the market, even after the iPhone 7 has been released (this is the first time Samsung has outdone Apple to the point where their subsequent next-model release doesn’t match the current Samsung model’s specifications).

If you’re sick and tired of all these battery problems with your new Samsungs and fancy iPhones, you need to write the designers and tell them to go back to the days of fat candy bar phones and stop trying to win the wafer-thin smartphone war. Until then, get used to problems like this. It won’t be the last.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru Supreme

Buyers Beware! Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Warning

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING THE GALAXY S7 EDGE

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Warning

If you want the best advice on which new smartphone to buy, ask someone who deals with broken devices... and broken hearts.

Here lately, I've had to be the bearer of bad news to a lot of Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge owners who've come to me with a sad face and a cracked smartphone screen. Fixing these things is not fun, and it's super expensive. Telling my customers how much it will cost to replace their shattered curved edge screen is enough to make them cry.

But why am I seeing so many Galaxy S6 and S7 Edge smartphones coming through the doors for repairs, you ask? It's the design of the phone. The problem is, there's no way to protect the curved edges on one of these handsets. You can't get a case that will keep it from shattering when it falls face-down.

The replacement LCD (that's the "tv screen" thingy) and glass digitizer assembly for any of the curved Galaxy Edge line of phones is very costly. The S7, at the time I'm writing this, will set you back $270. And that's just for the part. Labor is another $60 to $80 to extract off the broken screen and install the new one.

The curved edge screen is a great novelty, but it's not a good choice for people who are clumsy or hard on smartphones. It's one of the easiest phones to break on the market. Period. And as I mentioned before, you can't get compete protection from a shock-proof case, thanks to those curved edges.

Besides being super careful, you can get a tempered glass screen protector with curved edges that will give added protection to the phone. But I haven't heard much as far as how effective they are when absorbing an impact from a drop.

My best advice to you is that you think twice before buying this phone, if you are super active and will be handing the phone a lot while you're on-the-go. If you do decide that you just MUST have that cool curved edge on your smartphone, GET IT INSURED.

The total cost including parts and labor for fixing a Galaxy S6 or S7 Edge can cost in the $260 to $340 range. The deductible on most insurance plans on smartphones is $200 or less. Therefore, it is absolutely worth taking out additional insurance on these fancy devices.

If you own one of these phones and you don't have it in a case with a tempered glass screen protector, and you don't have insurance, I suggest you get the case immediately, and don't leave your house with the phone until you've called your carrier to add device insurance.

Trust me, accidents can and will happen. It only takes a fraction of a second. And I don't want to see you sad, dejected, and broken-hearted when you bring your beloved Galaxy Edge to me for a facelift.

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

http://www.facebook.com/gadgetgurusJC

 

CenturyLink Stinks - Why They Don't Care, And Why They'll Never Change

MY FRUSTRATING STORY WITH CENTURYLINK'S INEXCUSABLY BAD SERVICE

Is CenturyLink an incurably evil corporation? Has CenturyLink reached a point where their success allows them to dismiss good customer service? Can CenturyLink "afford" to put corporate profits ahead of treating customers with respect and showing that they truly care? Sadly, yes.

CenturyLink as a company is off the edge of human, and is beyond fixing. Their internal communication is so flawed and customer service is so bad, that it probably costs the company millions of dollars each year. But they're making so much money, nobody seems to care. And apparently, nobody has the power or ability to affect change internally. While there are some truly sincere people who work for this corporation, the company itself has become an evil uncontrollable entity.

In 2009, I had to switch to CenturyLink internet service due to Mediacom (yet another sad story of a company) not offering coverage in that particular area. I had ordered the 5Mbps internet package, but was only able to attain 0.5Mbps during the 2 years I paid for the service.

When I moved, I decided to stick with the company with hopes that they would be able to provide better service due to the area my new house was located. The service techs who came to do the install were great. Always super friendly, and very honest.

But unfortunately, we weren't able to get the advertised speed of 5Mbps. The best we got was around 0.75Mbps to 1.5Mbps on a good day. I had 3 service techs that visited over the year, all finding problems in the network and connections, but none able to solve the problem of the slow speed. All were very professional, and sincerely apologetic for what was going on.

At the end of the 1st frustrating year, I was talked into ordering the 10Mbps by someone internally at CenturyLink. They explained that I needed more "room" between the top of the rated speed and what I was getting. So in order to get 5Mbps download speeds, I needed to order the 10Mbps package.

As much as this didn't make sense, and as unfair and stupid that this was, I fell for it. I ordered the 10Mbps service and got a new modem. But the speed didn't improve at all. I had several more visits from service technicians, all of which told me that I had fed one bad story from the company, and that it wasn't my fault. They all confirmed that there was just some unknown issue in the network preventing the service from working properly to give the rated download speed that I was paying for.

In my complete frustration, I decided to put up with Mediacom at the end of the second year, and I dumped CenturyLink. I asked them to make a deal with me, since I owed a balance $360 when I canceled. I told them to pro-rate my balanced based on the fact that I received about 10% of what they falsely advertised that I would get with the internet package, as confirmed by several of their own service techs. They refused.

I made the switch to Mediacom and and we never did make a settlement. 5 or 6 years passed by, and I let the account make its rounds in collections. I gave up all hope of CenturyLink doing the right thing.

Fast forward to Fall of 2015, and the story gets interesting...

Someone from CenturyLink came pounding on my door one weekend, disturbing my valuable leisure time, to sell me on a "new deal". I told the salesman that I had no interest in anything CenturyLink had to offer, thanks to their terrible unreliable service. But then he said the magic words: Fiber-Optic is here!

I decided to let him talk, since he had some rather significant news. The fiber optic service was now in my neighborhood, and the connection was right there on the utility pole outside my front door. He said I could get CenturyLink 1 Gigabit internet service plus Prism TV for about $50 less per month than what I was paying Mediacom.

He spent an hour talking me into giving it a try, and since I would be saving money, I figured I'd let him have my business. I figured CenturyLink owed me a good deal anyway, after what had happened years ago.

We set up the appointment and away he went. 2 weeks later, the day before I was supposed to have my service set up, I got a phone call from a rather apologetic CenturyLink sales rep telling me that they unfortunately could not go through with the install because they found that I had an unpaid $360 bill.

This was the first hint to me that CenturyLink has absolutely ZERO internal communications. Why in the world would someone in sales send out an agent to waste an hour of my time, only to be told "we can't sell you our service because you owe a bill"?

This is generally how the big telecoms work. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and thanks to decentralized sales and service, nobody has a clue what is going on.

I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they might have enough common sense that it would be beneficial to work out a deal. Since I was potentially signing up for a 5-year contract for their service, I figured they would settle the balance and move on, and take my money.

Not the case.

After talking to a representative for over 30 minutes, the answer was "no". But the reason was that she could not find the department that had the authority to work a deal. She agreed that it was unfair that I paid for a service which never delivered what was promised to me for more than 2 years. She also agreed that the company would stand to benefit from my huge monthly payments for the next 5 years if they settled my balance. But she didn't know how to get it done.

That's when things got ridiculous.

After talking for a half an hour, she said that I would have to speak to billing because only they had the authority to settle the debt. I wasted another 30 minutes on hold waiting for a billing representative. After repeating the entire story, I was told that the billing department didn't have the authority to make that decision. They would have to send me to customer retention.

Transferred yet again, I waited in the queue for a customer retention representative, only to be told that they didn't have the authority to make that decision, and I'd have to be sent to customer service. Realizing this was the same place that I started, I told them I wanted to speak with a manager.

Finally, I was given to a manger, and was able to tell my entire story. I spent yet another 30 to 45 minutes on the phone, and the manager completely understood where I was coming from, and promised to get to the bottom of it and find a solution and compromise.

Talking on the phone to nearly 5pm, the manager had to call it a day, and promised to phone me back the next morning at 8:30am sharp after she had gotten everything sorted out, with the proper approvals, so I could settle my balance or have it waived, and sign up for my new service.

She never called back.

I tried to get back to a manager two more times, and to no avail. But I was ready to step out of the customer service Twilight Zone at CenturyLink. The company that charged me thousands of dollars for a service that never worked as promised, even verified by their own technicians, was refusing to accept my future service over a $360 unresolved bill.

Here we have a company that is so big, internally disconnected, and so uncaring about the humans they serve, they would rather pass on roughly $10,000 of profit over five years because they are unwilling to resolve a previous $360 balance. And not a singe person in the company will take ultimate responsibility to see it resolved.

There are some really sincere people who work at CenturyLink, but as a company, they have no soul. The company has grown beyond their ability to control its profit-grubbing nature. It makes me feel bad for the good people who at least try. But it is a work in futility.

In conclusion, I'll just say this... CenturyLink, you stink. Period.

I'm sad that I allowed you to waste so much of my time and emotional energy. I'm throwing in the towel, giving up the fight to give you my money. I'm accepting the fact that you're just a soul-less corporation that doesn't have the capability of caring for the people who make your profits possible. But at least there are some decent humans there who tried.

Here's to Google Fiber coming to my town soon. We can only hope for the best.

Carlton Flowers
CenturyStink Victim

The LG V10 - How Does It Stack Up Against The Juggernauts?

LG V10 KEEPS UP A GOOD TRADITION AND TAKES IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

For the past two weeks, I've been able to spend some quality time with the LG V10 smartphone via the AT&T 4G LTE network. I'm pretty impressed with this handset, and have a lot to report about it, and also how it stacks up against the big boys of Apple, Samsung & HTC.

First of all, this is definitely an improvement in the line of LG smartphones with close resemblance to the LG G2, G3, and G4 renditions. I think LG has done a fine job in keeping a general theme for look and feel of their flagship smartphone. But they took the V10 to the next level by powering up the G4 in a few key areas.

The LG V10 is built on a Qualcomm Sapdragon 808 1.82GHz CPU with an Adreno 418 GPU, plus a whopping 4Gb of RAM. What this means is you have the ability to run applications with speed, load superb video content, and multitask several apps without a problem. It's going to get the work done for you efficiently, and allow you to run the most cutting-edge apps Android has to offer. So that is definitely a big upgrade.

Another key upgrade from the G4 smartphone is the addition of the thumbprint scanner which is located on the power button of the LG V10. This keeps pace with current Samsung and Apple smartphones, and it gets a passing grade on functionality. Most of the tech blog sites are reporting an 80% success rate of the fingerprint scanner, and I'd say that's equal to or better than what we already see on the market. This keeps the V10 on the forefront of smartphone security.

Battery power gets a passing score, and might even be considered better than the competition with a 3000mAh removable battery. Samsung, Apple, and HTC have all gone the way of integrated batteries that take a technician to remove. If by chance you are unlucky enough to get a bad battery, you can easily replace it on the V10. But having a spare and the ability to swap out batteries is a huge plus in my book.

Internal storage has been bumped up, and I would even give the LG V10 an edge over the Samsung and Apple equivalents in this category because the basic storage amount is 64Gb. But you also have the ability to pop in an SD card for as much as 2 Terabytes of extra storage. Apple and Samsung chose to eliminate SD card storage, because it doesn't run as fast as internal memory. They didn't want people think their flagship smartphones were slow, on account of the SD memory. But LG has decided to allow the consumer to make that decision. That's a big win in my opinion.

Let's talk about cameras. The LG V10 has a 16mp camera with f/1.8 aperture, image stabilization, and a laser-guided auto focus feature. With the low F-Stop number of this camera, you can get some pretty amazing effects like "shallow depth of field", similar to what you could do with a professional DSLR camera. This is the same camera on the LG G4, but it's so good, it doesn't need much improvement at this point to still stand out in the field as superior.

On the flip side of the LG V10 you'll find the dual front facing 5mp cameras. One has 80 degrees, one wide angle at 120 degrees. This allows you to get 2 different choices of wide angle selfie shooting, and can also give you some options on 3D shooting. They take fantastic selfies, I might add!

Video recording on the V10 is monstrous. You get 4k 1080p video recording with slow motion capability, plus a bonus of "Cinematic mode" that slows the frame rate down to 24fps. There's a "Steady mode" for video stabilization, and it works better than Apple's advanced lens on the iPhone 6 Plus. You'll get tons of special effects, and one that I really like is "Snap Mode" where you tap to record 3-second video segments that get automatically stitched together into a 60-second video. Way too much fun if you're into video creation!

The form factor of the phone is passable, as long as you like the "phablet" size. It's as ergonomic as possible, with the super-grippy rubbery back plate. The sides are shiny metal which help to give it more of a premium feel than plastic alone, but it is a bit slick compared to the tacky feel of the back plate. The headphone jack is located in the bottom of the phone, which follows the new design standard set by Apple. I do like that. But what makes the phone unique, as usual, are the placement of the power button and volume rocker on the back of the phone.

The screen is enormous, with a 5.7" diagonal for the IPS LCD display that boasts Quad HD resolution, which amounts to a whopping 515 ppi pixel density. When you add the shortcut buttons bonus area on the top right of the screen, it's basically a 6" diagonal phone display. That is enormous, but the functionality of that extra notification screen is pretty awesome and useful. You get icons of recently used applications that you can launch, and it also serves as a notification bar. This feature is unique to the LG V10.

Flipping between applications using the top shortcut bar makes this phone easier to use for multitasking than any other phone I have owned. I also like the "Uninstall" and "Remove" boxes that appear when you long-press an icon. It's very straight-forward and clear. The shortcut bar Add to that the "double-tap-to-wake-up" screen feature and you've got a phone that you can jump-start quickly and easily.

One more thing regarding the display, the Swype keyboard is super smooth and slick on this smartphone making it very easy to compose messages. You can't quite operate the entire phone one-handed because of its size, and you certainly can't reach the shortcut bar one-handed, but it does seem to be accurate on producing the words you are attempting to enter.

My overall recommendation? I give it a green light, if you like the style of LG smartphones. For overall quality and feel, it is on the level of Samsung, Apple, and HTC. It's lighter than most, which for some means less "quality", but for others it means the phone won't break into a gazillion pieces every time you drop it to the ground. That's a definite advantage.

I don't see any major potential issues with this handset other than the size, but all of the manufacturers have gone to the phablet form factor. But for a phone, the calling experience was definitely good, with great sound quality over the AT&T network.

If you have a hankerin' for LG, you can't go wrong here. Head to your AT&T store and pick one of these up, and you probably won't regret it. Shout-out to AT&T St. Louis for test phone, I had a blast with it!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru



Clock-Bomb Boy - Inventor, or Instigator? Why I'm Not Fooled, And What Most People Missed Entirely

THE CLOCK BOMB DRAMA - RACIAL INJUSTICE, OR POLITICAL SHENANIGANS?

David Hannum, in criticism of famous showman P.T. Barnum, once said "there's a sucker born every minute". If you're not familiar with that phrase, here's what it means: there are gobs of gullible people out there in the world, and we can expect that there always will be until the end of time. I think this phrase has major relevance to the continuing clock bomb drama.

Yeah, I know it's old news, but I can't stop myself from bringing up the infamous "clock bomb" boy after reading the latest news, and especially after reading a related story about another young "inventor" (I'll tell you more about him in a bit) from Africa. Oh, and you'll have to stay with me through this lengthy rant because I have a rather bold prediction for you at the end of the blog post, IF you make it that far!

But first, I'll rant.

I find it amazing that people fall for just about anything that the media throws in our faces that have dubious political motives. At best, this whole debacle about Ahmed Mohamed who "invented" a clock, brought it to school, was horribly racially profiled and mistreated, makes for a slightly odd story that induces a little head-scratching. But at worst case, I think we've been bamboozled by a family with a hidden political agenda.

ahmed muhammed's "clock invention"

ahmed muhammed's "clock invention"

I was going to keep my mouth shut about this for fear of being accused as a heartless, racially insensitive person. But then I got to thinking... I am a gadget expert, and I've got a slight amount of knowledge on electronics and inventions, more than the average Joe.

Okay, scratch that. I know more about gadgets and electronics than the majority of people reading this. I'm an expert. Yeah, I said it, and it's true. I have respect, knowledge, and credibility from industry to back that up. I even own an electronics repair business. So basically, I'm not some poor schlub who is just popping off a bunch of nonsense.

Let me get back on-topic. After looking at the so-called "homemade clock invention" and thoroughly researching this whole thing, I have come to my own expert conclusion that this is not an "invention" whatsoever. Furthermore, it doesn't even come close to anything resembling an electronic clock kit made for educational purposes.

Take a look at a picture to the right if you want to see what "making" an electronic clock would actually look like if you were an honest person.

What this kid threw together is a disassembled consumer-grade jumbo clock put in a case. He gave it a sort of theatrical effect, with all the wires sprawling about, making it look like you really made something complex.

Electronic clock kit for hobbyists

Electronic clock kit for hobbyists

Trust me, I know a swindle when I see one. When I was in the 4th grade, I took apart a radio and a microphone, threw it in a box, taped it up & reorganized it all, and tricked half of my classmates into thinking I had "invented" a working CB radio.

I could drone on for pages about why this mess of a thing that looks like an IED bomb is a complete and utter fake, but let's move on. What made me suspicious from day one was the fact that it seemed like it was a political stunt thrown together to make a point, which was orchestrated by his father. The more I dug in and researched this, the more the entire story stank to the high heavens.

While I was still scratching my head early on, suspicious about the validity of this entire ordeal, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama had already jumped on the bandwagon in defending Ahmed and accusing the school of racial profiling. Sadly, the school system and the police did not handle the incident properly, and that only fueled the false accusations of profiling. Combine that with high-profile opportunists jumping to conclusions, and you have a recipe for a big mess.

I guess nobody found it necessary to talk about the fact that this kid's father is/was behind a Facebook page that believes the 9/11 tragedy was a US-sponsored hoax to justify launching a war against Islam around the world. Nor did they think it was necessary to properly vet this "home-made clock invention" before hyping this kid's scientific and engineering capabilities that attracted the attention of the likes of MIT, the founder of Facebook, and the leader of the free world.

They blindly believed he was just an innocent "inventor" who was victimized by injustice, but I smelled a rat. One look at his father's background should have been enough to tell anyone that this boy was more than likely a pawn of his father, who appears to be an instigator looking for political gain. You can research that on your own, I'm not here to prove that one way or another.

But enough of that.

Before you completely discount everything I've said, I'll go so far as to give the Ahmed supporters the benefit of the doubt and call this miracle invention a valid "show-and-tell" science experiment gone wrong. That being said, let's expose the ridiculousness of this by putting this into proper perspective. Let's shine a light on another young 13-year-old minority from Sierra Leone, and then we'll draw some comparisons.

Meet Kelvin Doe, a real-life inventor who made something that actually helps the people in his community in a major way. This kid created batteries and generators that were made from household items and things he recovered from trash bins. His community suffers from numerous lengthy power outages, and his inventions provide portable light and electricity from a small generator that powers a radio broadcaster. He attracted the attention of MIT just like Ahmed, and was invited to visit the US and participate in the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" as a result.

When you sit these 2 young boys side-by-side and take a good hard look, it makes this entire drama even more ridiculous. Seems to me that intelligent people in this country no longer know what an "inventor" even is. I say the young and brilliant Kelvin Doe is the real inventor. That's where we should be putting our attention, and offering encouragement for a future engineer and leader.

All the while, here we sit raising a ruckus over this clock-bomb boy who made a useless "invention" that has absolutely no known benefit to mankind. Last time I checked, we have already discovered clocks here in America. You can get 'em at the dollar store. Even if you did want to "make" a clock, the kits you can pick up in a local Radio Shack clearly show you what it really looks like when you put one together from scratch.

Let me bring this home before you get bored. The worst part of this situation is the negative "boy-crying-wolf" blow-back that will likely result for minorities in this country. This whole mess will cause people to turn a deaf ear on REAL circumstances of racial profiling when they DO legitimately happen. I'm telling you this from experience.

Many people close to me know that I have over 20 years of being a strong proponent of diversity in the workplace. I've been invited to speak at conferences and events, and I have provided numerous training sessions as a paid consultant. So don't take this next short story the wrong way...

I asked a couple of very close friends of mine who I work with about this story. Both of them were born and raised in Arab countries, are practicing Muslims, and have families. I wanted to know what they thought about the clock bomb drama. My question to them was, "would you send your kid to school with something like this for a science project"?

Their answer: "No"

I asked why, and both of my dear friends told me the same thing: common sense dictates that an Arab student can't go to school with something that resembles a bomb, because they will be immediately racially profiled and cause a panic. Both said they wouldn't jeopardize their kids' safety by letting them do something this stupid.

While everyone sits around continuing to debate whether or not this kid and his family are victims racial profiling of Arabs, we've all taken a vacation from common sense. Thanks to political correctness, we have decided to avoid the hideously obvious - this crap he threw together wasn't an invention worthy of even a D grade.

Sadly, we live in a world of racial biases and profiling. The shocking fact is, we ALL harbor racial biases, whether we are Black, White, Brown, or Yellow. It's a human condition rooted in survival and protection mechanisms. It's scientific.

As Mr. Obama would say, "let's be clear". Manipulating people's primal fear triggers for gain is playing with fire, and it's wrong. It's not the way to make a point, and it won't force the world into changing its wrongful ways of thinking.

My soapbox is done. If you've made it this far, you will now be rewarded with my bold prediction!

Ahmed's trip to the White House on October 19th will be canceled before it happens. President Barack Obama won't suffer the embarrassment over it. Watch for developments after new information starts to unfold about Ahmed's family and their true intentions. Could I be wrong? We'll see.

Carlton Flowers
"Instigator of Good Discussions"


iPhone 5 Bulging Battery - A Real Safety Hazard To Watch

WHAT A BAD BATTERY CAN DO TO YOUR BELOVED IPHONE

Okay folks, pay attention closely if you own an iPhone 5, 5C, or 5S. The life of your phone could depend on it.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of fixing a gentleman's iPhone 5 that had a situation where the screen was popping up. Plus, when pressing your finger on the front glass, you could see discoloration on the LCD in a vertical area.

At first, I thought he just had a defective screen assembly where the glass separates from the plastic and metal brackets. But the owner also told me that he had a bad battery, and believed it was bulging and forcing the display out from the metal phone frame.

I asked him if the battery was doing strange things, like discharging rapidly, or charging erratically. He said no, the charge was doing fine, but it was only the problem of battery bulge. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it.

Just as you seen the in picture, his phone was coming apart on the top end of the screen, which made it extremely difficult for me to remove the LCD assembly from the metal frame. It took quite a while for me to carefully pry up the screen without permanently damaging the LCD.

I told him that it was a 50/50 shot at getting this screen removed and having it go back in without any problems, but we decided to trudge forward. After much to do, I successfully got the screen removed from the frame.

Lo and behold, the battery inside the phone was bulging, just as he described. What causes this to happen is that the layers of lithium inside the battery that are separated by a thin film find a way to short circuit, thus making the battery bulge.

The battery bulging will force the screen assembly out of the frame, and could end up in permanent damage to the LCD. But worse than that, the battery can bulge to the point that it eventually explodes, or in rare cases, catches on fire.

I learned a good lesson on just how dangerous dealing with lithium ion iPhone batteries can be a couple of years ago when I hastily removed an iPhone 4S battery from a frame. Using a metal spudger, I forced the battery out quickly, causing it to bend. That bending caused the thin layers of insulation between the lithium layers to break down, short-circuiting the battery.

I grabbed the battery with my fingers to pry it out after bending it with the spudger, and noticed an acutely painful sensation in my finger. After I snatched my hand away from the battery, a small orange ember appeared, and then a flame shot out from the battery.

Keeping my burned finger in a bowl of ice half the night to cool the barbecue sensation taught me a fine lesson about respecting lithium batteries, and how dangerous they can be. That's why I knew to be super careful when I removed the screen from this iPhone 5 only to discover a bulged battery that needed to come out.

The Apple Corporation did a massive recall on the iPhone 5 for defective batteries. But they left half the defective phones out in the wild, denying a great percentage of people a repair covered under warranty. So they are still out there.

If you notice your screen popping up, know that this is a potentially serious issue that you should have checked out immediately. And don't try to remedy it yourself unless you are willing to potentially tear up your phone, burn your fingers, have your battery explode.

My advice? Leave it up to the experts, and get it fixed as soon as you notice the symptoms!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru Safety Advisor

Is Stopping "Illegal Immigration" Immoral, And Is Standing Up For It Illogical?

"ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION" ARGUMENT - THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

I don't honestly understand what is it that people have against an immigration policy similar to what presidential candidate Donald Trump is proposing. And while people are fussing and fighting about this, there's a big fat elephant sitting in the middle of the room.

We'll get to that elephant in a bit. But for now, let's talk about whether or not stopping illegal immigration is an immoral act, or if standing up for its allowance is llogical.

It seems that many believe "shutting down the borders" to prevent illegal immigration is immoral. And I've noticed that people seem to equate illegal immigration with coming into the country by legal means. Doesn't make any sense to me.

We do care about these downtrodden people who are looking for opportunity, and we want to help them only through legal means. This is hardly immoral. I for one am not a proponent for closing the doors completely and halting all immigration. But the pro illegal immigration mob sure does want to lump people like me in with those who are strict isolationists.

As far as I can tell, people like Donald Trump are pro-immigration, but they also want it to happen through legal means. They want people to have the freedom to enter the country to chase opportunity, but they prefer that immigrants register properly and become a part of the system.

I have noticed a double standard, however. People from certain countries seem to have a lot more trouble coming into this country, even by legal means. Unless they have an endless supply of money for legal assistance, they can't get in.

For example, I have a friend who married a woman from an Eastern Block country, and even through marriage they were not able to obtain a Visa. She was deported, and they spent piles of money on attorneys fighting for her case to allow her back into the country.

But where are all of the anti-Trumpers in cases like this? Why are they fighting so hard against the halting of illegal immigration when the people who are trying desperately to come here by legal means are having so much difficulty?

Seems to me they should put their energy here instead of wasting it on raising a ruckus against Trump and his immigration policy ideas.

Some say that standing against illegal immigration is immoral or somehow racially biased. But here's the big fat elephant standing in the middle of the room that nobody seems to notice:

These people are supporting breaking and circumventing the law rather than abiding by the rules and going about things legally.

If you really were 'for' the people who come here illegally, you would fight to educate and assist them in becoming legitimate residents instead of sneaking in unaccounted for. You would fight to have them do their fair share and pay in to the system that supports people in need.

I am against allowing illegal immigration, for obvious reasons. Every citizen in this country should be, if they are honest law abiding people who want order and fairness.

To me, fighting those who hold this stance against stopping illegal immigration is like fighting for people's right to shoot, rob, steal, shoplift, and avoid paying taxes. If you live in this country and benefit from law and order, it seems a little backwards that you would abandon that stance when it comes to immigration. That is completely illogical.

I have several good friends from south of the border who live here, work here, and are raising their families. They are some of the hardest workers on the planet, and are experts in their field of trade.

All of them are here legally, and they abide by the rules of law to keep their status legitimate. I think it is a slap in their face and an insult for us to say that we should support those who want to cut corners and come here without going through the proper channels, as they did.

Once you cut through the smoke and mirrors of politics, you clearly see that taking up a cause for an illegal activity just makes no sense at all. But this is the day and age we live in.

Carlton Flowers
Political Pot Stirrer

The Confederate Flag Debate - A Balanced View

AS THE 150-YEAR-OLD DEBATE RAGES ON, CAN WE FIND UNDERSTANDING?

The tragic shooting of 9 Blacks at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina has brought a century-and-a-half debate over the Confederate battle flag to an ugly head. Lines have been drawn in the sand, and there doesn't seem to be much agreement amongst the opposing sides of the issue.

I have long kept silent about this divisive topic, and honestly have not had a dog in this fight. Recent events have forced me to take a long look at this, and I have come to a conclusion on where I stand. But before I express my opinion, I will say that I have sincere hopes of bringing understanding to both camps, rather than to simply throw more gasoline on the fire. That is my goal.

The core of the conflict lies in the fact that the two camps have strongly divergent views on what the Confederate flag, or "Dixie" flag, actually stands for. Surprisingly, this divergence doesn't run purely along political or racial lines, but some generalizations can be made about those for and against the Confederate flag.

Some see the flag as a symbol of Southern culture and pride, of state's rights, and a remembrance of ancestors who sacrificed their lives as soldiers in the Civil War defending their way of life in the south. They view the flag in a completely positive light, as something that invokes warm childhood memories of being raised in Dixie land. It's wholesome Southern family heritage. It's "buckwheat cakes and injun batter", as the traditional song celebrates, to "live and die in Dixie".

To others, the the Confederate flag paints a completely different picture. It is one of racial strife, division, and generations of pain and suffering. It invokes memories of the institution of slavery, and memories of the "Rebels" who defended the Jim Crow laws that remained in force through 1965 in the South. What comes to mind is the connection to White Supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, hate groups, intimidation, and the days of institutionalized racial oppression backed up by state laws.

It's a shock that these two viewpoints could even be describing the same subject, the Confederate flag. And it doesn't appear that those who are on the extreme end of either side of the fence will ever be able to come to the middle ground to see this issue from each other's viewpoint.

To those that hold fast to the Confederate flag, they feel that their allegiance makes a statement for standing up against a federal government gone out of control, steamrolling over the intent of the Constitution in protecting state's rights. They feel a sense of unfair treatment and betrayal among those who would rather define and assign negative attributes to the flag because of its use by hate groups, rather than to honor their right to define it as wholesome and harmless.

But here's where it "all goes south" for the Confederate historians who cannot seem to defend their wholesome family-friendly constitutional-based definition of what the Rebel flag stands for...

The staunch support of the flag has deep emotional roots. That emotion is passionate, and it manifested in the actions of many supporters of the anti-authority "Rebel" mindset after the Civil War. Although the current widely-used Rebel flag was only one of many battle flags used by several regimens of the Confederate army, the Dixie battle flag was the only one widely used that survived until today.

Sadly, one of the most recognizable groups in history that used the symbolic Rebel flag were the ghosts of the fallen soldiers of the Confederate army, the Ku Klux Klan. It was so widely used by the Klan while terrorizing freed Blacks in the South that it's very sight would invoke instant and immediate fear. It often flew during cross burnings, lynchings, gang rapes, and burning of homes.

Literally hundreds of radical White supremacist hate groups overwhelmingly gravitated towards the use of the flag because of its popularity. It continued on through the time of the Civil Rights movement, where we saw it used as the primary symbol for the State's Rights Democratic Party ("Dixiecrats") led by Strom Thurmond as they battled the Democratic party in opposing the Civil Rights platform. In demonstration after demonstration, we sat and watched as myriads of Dixie flags waved in the hands of those who passionately fought against desegregation and equal rights for all human beings.

But as grotesque and hideous as this part of our history may be, those who support the Confederate flag feel that their symbol has been hijacked by the insidious people who don't share their core values. They see it as a "redefining" of what their flag stood for, much in the same way that the well-meaning LGBT community has adopted the use of the rainbow to symbolize their community and culture. They strongly believe that similar symbols mean different things to different groups of people.

In order to help those that are riled up about the "real" meaning of the Rebel flag, let me inject my own personal experience. It might surprise you.

Part of me sees the Rebel flag in the light of "The Dukes of Hazzard". It's the General Lee, a symbol of the South, something that connects me to my roots deep down in Mississippi and Louisiana. Growing up, what kid didn't have a toy General Lee stock car? I know I did. To this day, I want to restore an old Charger and create my very own "General" and show it off to the world.

My Civil War enthusiast side allows me to be able to sit down and debate State's Rights and the Constitution with fellow historians who display the Dixie flag in their homes, on their trucks, and on their clothing. I'm drawn to Civil War reenactments, museums, and historic sites that display both Old Glory and the Rebel flag and it doesn't invoke any negative feelings.

But another part of me remembers those who don't share those historic views...

Growing up in a rural environment during the 70's and 80's, I experienced things that you would think only could have occurred in Selma Alabama during the 60's. I've been spit on, harassed, roughed up, had rocks hurled at me, called every racial epithet in the dictionary, and even endured hearing the phrase "go back to Africa with your people" more than I could count or remember.

A common thread among the people who felt it necessary to hurl these insults and dole out this treatment while I grew up? The Rebel flag. It was thrown in my face with the intent of intimidating me and striking fear in my heart. This was so common that my siblings and I knew that we had better have our guard up when we found ourselves in the midst of pickup trucks & drunken imbeciles donning rebel flags and cowboy hats.

This is why I can see both sides of the story, and why I will admit that the Dixie flag does mean strikingly different things to different people. But I do have a firm stance on what I believe to be the most fair compromise that we can all live by...

Regarding South Carolina and other states that prominently display the Rebel flag, I believe the opponents have a valid case in arguing against flying it on the state capitol property. While I don't believe the flag should be banned by any means, it shouldn't stand in the way of the US flag ever.

The Dixie flag flying on state capitol buildings is still a symbol of the rebellion. 150 years have passed, and we need to realize that the Confederacy lost the war. Whether it be the Stars & Bars or the Rebel flag, the South lost the right to fly the flag over a government institution.

Be that as it may, I believe the overreaction among retailers in pulling all merchandise bearing the Confederate flag is silly. Everyone is overreacting. And it's funny how they didn't think about this until now. All of the sudden, they want to "protect" all of their dear customers from the possibility of being offended. It's very hypocritical.

Sadly, this chain reaction could open up the doors for any and every group to protest the symbols of anything they find offensive. It's a slippery slope, and the precedence now set could turn against people's freedom to express their unique identity in a country that is a major melting pot. It could be open season on all cultural symbols in the near future.

The answer to the Confederate flag conundrum isn't clear. But there is one clear thing we all need to do: start respecting each others right to have differing opinions, and end the fighting. Here's my advice to both camps, and it is my sincere hope that it brings us all back together:

Confederates - While you might have the most sincere intentions in mind, realize that a percentage of people will always have an immediate unconscious negative reaction to the Rebel flag, thanks to the very vocal hate groups who made it so popular. We may never successfully talk people into mentally separating the Rebel flag from the Ku Klux Klan after they have paraded it around for 150 years, and still continue to use it today. You can stand up for your values, but keep reaching out in kindness to those who misunderstand why you hold the Rebel flag so dearly to your heart.

Yankees - Avoid broadly stereotyping everyone you see with a Rebel flag. Realize that it is possible that some people hold no racial malice in their hearts. Admit the possibility that some really do see the flag as a symbol of state's rights, southern culture, and their family upbringing. Yes, we recognize the fact that the Ku Klux Klan is still pushing the Rebel flag in our faces while they spew their racial hatred in the media... but let's take a deep breath and evaluate each situation before we pass immediate judgement on those we see sporting the Rebel flag, and give them a chance before we write them off as card-carrying pro-slavery Klan advocates.

All - Settle down, stop fighting, quit with the bickering, and realize that there are far more important things we need to be expending our emotional energy on. While we are senselessly fighting over a historic battle flag, there are people in the world getting their heads sawed off in the name of religion. Those are REAL problems. Keep it in perspective.

In the immortal words of Rodney King, "why can't we... why can't we all just get along?"

Carlton Flowers
Rodney King Flag Advocate

THE CELLULAR SERVICE CHOKEDOWN - A TECH CRISIS?

As time goes on, it seems that cellular service is getting worse and worse. Is this just a passing phase, or are we in the midst of a cellular service choke down?

Three years ago, the tech blog prognosticators predicted a major bottleneck in cellular service due to increasing demand.  The increase was said to be fueled by the big shift towards mobile internet use, thanks to faster 4G LTE speeds being served up by the big telecoms.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't believe it. The reason? Because we had the same failed predictions regarding internet service back in the days of linear dialup modems.

Once dialup modems "topped out" at 56kbps of data transfer speed, the doom and gloom said that they would no possible way to jam data through the telephone network any faster. 

Then came broadband.

Someone figured out a way to cram a lot for data through the same old network by using a different frequency which was above the audio range of human ears. This made it possible talk on the phone and surf the Internet at high speed at the same time!

Nobody ever thought such a thing would be possible, but that was just the beginning. coaxial table and fiber optic table later took it to the extreme.

That being said, I'll show you how that relates to the current topic. 

We are on the front end of the same type of mess, but with the cellular network. Now that the majority of people are using their smartphones to access the Internet rather than laptops or desktop computers, there has never been more demand put on the cellular network than the present time. 

While the log jam was predicted years app, I was of the belief that it would never come to a critical head before done new fancy technological breakthrough solved the problem.

I was partially right. 

After the 3G high speed cellular network was built about 4 years ago,   the "HSPA+ enhanced" days service brought us speeds upwards of 10Mbps on our smartphones. But over the next year, that dropped down to about 1.5Mbps.

The reason? Too many people flooded the network with their smartphones sitting the net like never before, and the system couldn't handle it.

It's the same effect you get when you're at a concert or large gathering, and you notice that your cellular service drops off to zero and doesn't return to normal until the crowd disperses.

Well folks, right now we are hitting rock concert levels in the current 4G LTE network. What started off as an unmitigated data speedway where we had blazing downloads as fast as 50Mbps has now turned into a log jam of snail data traffic that you're lucky to get 1Mbps out of on a good day.

On the one hand, I'll say that I believe the prognosticators on what they said about the "dead end" of the cellular network. But I don't believe this will be the dead end overall.

We're smack dab in the middle of a paradigm shift. More and more people are ditching desktops for smartphones each and every day, and we've already hit critical mass.

But one thing I have learned from history when it comes to the advancement technology is that the very minute the "experts"   say that we have reached the limit, we are blindsided by a new quantum leap inducing breakthrough that catapults us into the future.

My prediction for our current saturated overused overwhelmed cellular network? The problem will fuel technological advancement, and we are more than likely on the brink of our next quantum leap in data transfer. And when it happens, it well be bigger, faster, and more amazing than anything we can even imagine.

Carlton Flowers

Gadget Oracle

 

 

 

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Rapid Smartphone Battery Drain - A Source You Probably Didn't Consider

THE HIDDEN REASON YOUR SMARTPHONE EXPERIENCES RAPID DRAIN

Have you ever sat and watched your smartphone drain rapidly before your eyes, even while plugged into a charger? There is a hidden but common reason many people are experiencing this frustrating situation.

While sitting at work, I have noticed on several occasions that my smartphone will start draining the juice faster than a soft orange in a Jack LaLane juicing machine. It's the most frustrating and mind-boggling thing that I've experienced with my Galaxy Note 3, and up until now, I had no idea what was really happening.

I assumed that I either had a serious malfunction with my smartphone, or an AC charger adapter that had shot craps. I couldn't imagine how or why my smartphone could take a complete nosedive right before my eyes while it was plugged up and should be charging.

The only solution to this problem was turning off the phone, and leaving it on the charger for an hour or two in order to slowly reverse the process and start recovering the charge. And this seemed to happen when I needed to use my smartphone the most.

While talking to a friend and complaining about this mysterious rapid battery drain, my good friend and fellow gadget enthusiast Tim Largent clued me in to what the source of this unknown drain actually was. He hit the nail on the head, and I sat in amazement, wondering why I never knew this little known fact.

Where I work, there seems to be a serious problem with reception in the last few months on my network. I normally have a strong signal, and receive a full 4 bars or more of 4G LTE service. But not lately...

What Tim explained to me is the fact that smartphones will constantly cycle in search mode when they cannot connect with a strong signal from a tower. If you are in a dead spot or area with a weak signal, your smartphone will search for a better signal until it finds one.

With the network problem we are having in our area, many others have experienced this rapid battery drain, and this is exactly the source of the problem. While the smartphone is searching for that stronger signal, it demands a huge amount of power resources.

This is why my phone would drain faster than it would charge, while plugged into a charger, until the phone would go completely dead. But it wasn't happening every day, only on days where there seemed to be a big problem with the carrier network.

If you are in a known area that has a weak or intermittent signal, leaving your phone powered on to fervently search for a better signal will drain your battery dead so fast that you can watch the power meter decrease right before your eyes.

The only way to avoid this is to turn the phone off, or turn off your smartphone's radio by putting it into Airplane mode when you know you are in a problem location. There is no other solution, other than calling your carrier to inform them of a possible technical problem with your service.

So before you take a hammer to your phone or chunk the charger out the window or into the nearest trash receptacle, keep this in mind. It's probably not your smartphone OR your charger. It could be an issue that is out of your hands.

Be informed, my fellow smartphone addicts!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

A Warning to Naked iPhone 6 Plus Owners

WHAT ALL IPHONE 6 PLUS OWNERS URGENTLY NEED TO KNOW

So you bought that amazing Apple iPhone 6 Plus, and you just love the beauty of the form factor, and how gorgeous it looks without a case? Good luck. Enjoy your happiness while it lasts. Because when you break that lovely new Apple device, you're gonna be depressed.

Since its release, I have had to experience the extreme displeasure of telling people who bring broken iPhone 6 Plus smartphones to my shop exactly how much financial damage they are in for. I sincerely hate to them coming, and I don't enjoy being the bearer of horrible news.

Right now, breaking your iPhone 6 will set you back about $100 for a new LCD/digitizer assembly, and $60 labor for the installation (if you come to my shop, Gadget Gurus). But if you own the Godzilla-sized iPhone 6 Plus and jack up your screen, you are going to have to dig really deep in your pocket to come up with $350 for the LCD/digitizer assembly, plus the $60 labor.

People taking a chance on using their iPhone 6 Plus in the nude are playing financial Russian roulette. My advice to anyone who owns one of these devices is to leave it in the box until you have a shock-proof case (like an Otterbox or equal) and a tempered glass hard screen protector ready to install on it.

What most people don't understand is that they are packing a powerful $1,000 laptop computer in their pocket with no keyboard and a super expensive touch screen. If you purchased a laptop for that price, you certainly wouldn't be carrying it around using it while walking, running, or sitting on the toilet (yes, I said that).

But in this day and age of rapid technological change, people have been slowly boiled like the frog in the pot. They aware the change that has taken place. These super expensive new smartphones are very small and sleek, but they have evolved so quickly, people don't realize today how intricate and expensive they are.

If you're gonna drop the bucks (or the long-term contract) for that fancy decipherin' machine, get it double-protected. Put the shock-proof 2-piece case on it, and get the tempered glass protection. It's worth every penny.

That doesn't mean you'll be 100% safe from every drop. I have people bringing me shattered iPhones in Otterboxes quite often. If you drop it just right, you can still jack up the screen or LCD. But you WILL at least increase your chances of saving your phone after a drop if you have it double-protected.

You do have one other option if you break your iPhone 6 Plus. You can send it in to Apple, or take it to an Apple store IF you have one in your city, and they will replace the LCD/digitizer for $129. That's an incredible deal, but there's no guarantee that you'll get it, or how long they will offer that price.

I believe Apple is subsidizing the true cost of the LCD replacement, at least until the wholesale prices come down on the after-market parts. If they didn't do this, there would be a lot of disgruntled iPhone 6 Plus owners out there. Apple corporation doesn't like letting things like this get out of control, so this is probably a preemptive move.

In due time, the price for the after-market LCD/digitizer assemblies will come down. But for now, don't take any chances on using your iPhone 6 Plus in the nude!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

 

The Truth About Customer Service With AT&T - Unbiased Testimony

AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE GETS THE REAL REVIEW FROM THE ZONE

I've heard a ton of opinions about AT&T Wireless coverage, the devices, and their customer service. There are as many opinions out there as there are people. I am often asked what I think of the various carriers, because of my Gadget Gurus business and my superior geek status.

Well I've been a customer since 2006, so I believe I have put in the time to be able to give you the straight no-fluff evaluation. But we will focus this post to one facet of business: customer service

As you can see in the picture, I am proud to officially announce to my esteemed audience that AT&T has received the first ever "Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion" designation from The Carlton Zone! I'll explain why...

The first reason emanates from the the excellent level of customer service on the toll free phone line. I have yet to have one bad experience with customer service agents at the AT&T call centers. I have found them to be courteous, happy to speak with me, and very accommodating when dealing with my situations of need. I can't tell you how many other service companies have dropped the ball in this area. But this is an area that AT&T as excelled in. It must be a company philosophy.

A second reason results from where AT&T excels on a more personal level. Evidence can be found in the experiences I have had at the local corporate store in Jefferson City, Missouri. A small percentage of people say that they don't like the service at the local store. I'm not sure I understand what it is that they are looking for that would spark such a reaction, because I have clearly had only the best experiences when visiting the for any reason.

Our local store stays very busy on a constant basis, and the staff are often swamped with customers. But the way that they handle the load is worthy praise. When I walk in the door, I am greeted with a smile, and an agent immediately logs me into the queue. I am told how long I can expect to wait to see an agent, and then I'm turned loose to "play" with all the devices on display.

The staff has always been pleasant, very helpful, and willing to go the extra mile to see to it that my needs are met. But it's not just about business. After each experience at the corporate store, I feel that I have gained a friend (or two) after my visit.

These are the main two fronts that any carrier will gain or lose ground in customer service, and AT&T has nailed it on both fronts for me. And for those who don't agree with me, let's just say that there are a few other slightly credible sources who would agree... like the J.D. Power 2015 Wireless Customer Care Study. Go ahead, click the link and read it for yourself.

Oh and hey, sorry about "Bogart-ing" your logo, J.D. Power. It was just a perfect fit for The Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion designation to AT&T. By all means, if you want to copy some of my amazing graphics from the blog site, please borrow one for payback. I'll understand!

Carlton Flowers
THE Gadget Guru

 

Blogging From Mobile Devices - Key To Staying Current?

I am writing this blog post from an iPad 2, one of several mobile devices that I own. I'm always in search of new ways to publish content to my blog. Why? 

Because l am so busy.

As the owner of five businesses and a full time engineering job, I don't always have access to my main computer work station or my laptop. So I've been hunting for quick and easy ways to blog on the go as inspiration hits me.

I've tried uploading content from my smartphone, but it just isn't practical. It's too much of a pain typing, and getting the format right. But the iPad could be the answer to my problem! 

I'm not using an external keyboard, just typing on the screen which seems to be easier. If this works out, I might settle in with the iPad as my primary mobile device for blogging. 

The advantages to mobile blogging Make it worth the effort. 

First off, you have the ability to get that cutting edge blog post written at the moment of inspiration. If you're like me, you'll end up with a five mile long list of blog topics to write in the future if you don't knock them out immediately. 

Secondly, you are able to keep your site full of content and attracting traffic. Every post doesn't have to be richly laden with graphics and video. Sometimes it's just the written content that provides information or a solution to what people are searching for. 

Lastly, it keeps you in the flow of writing, and thus keeps you from going through bouts of writers block. Once you get into the habit of writing every day, you lessen your chances of getting stuck.

Do you blog from a mobile platform, or do you prefer to stick to writing from your laptop or desktop computer? Share your thoughts and let me know! 

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Microsoft & Nokia Reach Market Dominance In 2015... Or Not

BOLD PREDICTIONS FIZZLE AS 2015 COMES TO FRUITION

A few years ago, I was on the bandwagon of belief when all of the tech pundits made bold predictions that Nokia & Microsoft would reach total market dominance over Android & Apple by the year 2015. What happened?

We all bought the story because of the reasoning, that Nokia once dominated the world of feature phones, and that Microsoft dominated the world of operating systems. Windows Mobile plus Nokia hardware was supposed to equal unparalleled success in the smartphone market.

But what happened?

All of the cards foretold of fortunes to be made by these two tech juggernauts, and the planets were supposedly lined up to create the stage for the impending takeover of the smartphone world. But now that we have reached 2015, where is Microsoft and Nokia in the grand scheme of things?

Apple continues to dominate with the new iPhone 6 and 6+, with the new iOS 8 platform. And Samsung continues to squash the Android market with its flagship Galaxy products, powered by Android KitKat. But our "match made in heaven" comprised of Microsoft and Nokia seems to be lagging far behind, as they always have.

I thought Microsoft and Nokia had a great start with the Lumia 920 smartphone, and all of the later versions of their device. The operating system was supposed to be super easy to use, and a much better match for those of us using Windows based PCs. I thought I would be a prime target for converting to Windows on my smartphone, since I use a PC and a laptop every day.

But it never happened. I've tested and tried the Nokia devices using the Windows Phone platform. While I did find it easy to use, I worried about not having the ability to find all of my most favorite apps under their system. When I switched from Apple to Android in 2012, I was able to download about 80% of my most used apps on the Android platform.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that Windows will capture the attention of developers around the world and motivate them to bring all of my favorite apps to the Windows Phone market. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't have much confidence believing it will in the near future.

While the Windows-based Nokia devices are super slick and durable, I have found them to be a total pain-in-the-derrier when it comes to servicing and repairing the hardware. As the owner of a smartphone repair shop, I have learned to send Nokia smartphone owners to my competitors down the street. Cracked screen? Busted LCD panel? Take it somewhere else, because it's not worth the headache.

That might be part of the reason why Nokia failed to dominate the market as predicted. It might just be that Microsoft and Nokia never became "cool". Whether their devices and operating system functionality is great, or a pile of crap, nothing matters until their products become a "thing".

The smartphone market is like the fashion industry. Until Microsoft and Nokia become "cool" in the minds of consumers, they will never hit critical mass and dominate the market. I would love to see a competitor break into the Apple/Android monopoly, but I don't believe we will witness such an even for a few years if anything.

In the meantime, It's Samsung & Android for me on the smartphone front, Apple's iPad for my tablet, and my Windows-based custom PC for my desktop.

What do you think the reasons are behind the failure of Microsoft and Nokia to fulfill the predictions of the past? I'd sure like to hear your opinion!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - This Will Shut You Up

HIDEOUSLY OBVIOUS REASONS I CHOOSE THE GALAXY NOTE 4 OVER IPHONE 6 PLUS

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are out on the streets. The talking Apple heads claim that the iPhone 6 Plus is the hands-down winner over the new edition of the Note series.

Even tech blog sites are giving the checkered flag to Apple over Samsung in this race to have the most phabou phablet. It doesn't stack up per the tech specs, but Apple clearly has the most votes of confidence.

Everyone has an opinion about device brands and it is mostly due to preference. But I'm having a hard time trying to follow the "logic" of the loyal Fruit Cult following. I don't think they care what the specs are at all, it's just a foregone conclusion that the Apple device will magically be "better" by default.

In fact, I'd like to know exactly what kind of hallucinogenic drugs these people are doing to think the specs give Apple the win, because it would seemingly take some pretty strong stuff to overlook this helpful little handful of hardware facts...

  • The CPU - the Note 4 uses an Octa core processor while the iPhone 6 Plus sports dual core
  • 1.9GHz cpu processing speed on the Note 4 compared to 1.4GHz on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • Screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 on the Note 4 versus 1920 x 1080 on the 6 Plus
  • Super sharp screen on the Note 4 packs 515 pixels/sq.in but iPhone 6 Plus is only 400pix/sq.in.
  • 16Mp camera on the Note 4 as opposed to 8Mp on the 6 Plus
  • Front-facing camera on the Note 4 has twice the resolution than it's Fruity Phablet counterpart
  • Real multitasking on the Galaxy Note 4, nothing of the sort on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • A whopping 3 gigabytes of RAM packed into the Note 4 while the 6 Plus gets a paltry 1Gb
  • 3,220 mAh of battery power on the Galaxy Note 4 edging out the 2,915 mAh on the 6 Plus
  • Killer download speed of 42.2Mbps on the Galaxy Note 4 while iPhone 6 Plus drags along at 7.2Mbps
  • The super solid build of the metal-band-clad Note 4 as opposed to the lighter, cheaper, more slippery feel of the iPhone 6 Plus

My conclusion? The amount of hallucinogenic drugs or head-meds needed to "make" the iPhone 6 Plus a better device choice than that of a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would therefore be significant. But right when you think logic and hardware specs rules the day, I will say this...

I like the look and feel of the iPhone 6 Plus better than the Galaxy Note 4, and would have chosen it over the Android product if Apple included a pen digitizer on their device. Plus the lacking hardware specs don't appear to give it any less of a speedy user experience.

So there you have it.  Shocked that Mr. Android Boy would say such things? Well you shouldn't be. The point is, none of the specs listed for or against a device amount to a hill of beans. It's all about user preference and the user experience.

For me, the lack of a pen digitizer on Apple mobile devices is a deal-breaker. The Galaxy Note 4 is close enough as a great device that I will stick with it just to have my digitizer pen. I can live with the design changes that I don't like as much, as long as I have the digitizer.

Ironically, the one thing Apple Fruit Cult members boasted about most was that their devices were solid and heavy, while Samsung's devices felt cheap, light and "plasticky" (which I prefer). The chickens have come home to roost.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru

iPad Gadget Blogging Has Begun!

BLOGGING ON THE FLY WITH THE MINI AND SQUARESPACE

Announcement! I have finally figured out how to post up a blog using the iPad Retina Mini and and the handy dandy Squarespace iOS blogging app!

This means more awesome amazing content from your favorite gadget guru on a regular basis. Can this be any more exciting? I think not!

the trick to making this easy is to create a handful of stencil posts that I can modify. Then all you hafta do is edit the content and voila! Fresh gadget information for all!

Now I will need your help. To keep me on task, I'm going to be taking on your best gadget questions, and also helping you with gadget purchasing decisions. If there is anything in the gadget world that you don't understand, just ask the guru! 

anxiously awaiting your gadget questions, 

Carlton

Chief Guru

Apple-Samsung Smartphone Slugfest Phablet Style

SAMSUNG GETS SNIPPY WITH NOTE 4 VIDEO DISS

Okay people I'm back. I've been out-of-pocket lately, on blogging vacation. But with the recent developments on the tech forefront, I think this is a good time to chime back in.

Transient

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch has passed, and phones will start shipping within the next few weeks to anxious customers. While the iPhone 6 Plus breaks "new ground", Samsung has taken the opportunity to make a snarky video about Apple's sudden change in design.

It is truly ironic to see what has transpired, truthfully. Looking back over the last handful of years, we have seen Apple make multiple accusations against Samsung for stealing their designs. At that same time, the Apple execs swore that a smartphone bigger than 3.5" was entirely stupid, and it was something you would never ever see their beloved company produce.

Fast forward to the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their massive 4.7" and 5.5" diagonal displays, and it makes me sit rubbing my head wondering what just happened. Apparently, I'm not the only one who wonders what happened in Cuppertino. Maybe they all inhaled, or drank their own Kool-Aid.

How in the world could the same company who accused Samsung of blatant copyright infringement turn an about-face and produce a phone which is in the form of the Galaxy Note without a stylus? Especially after swearing off phablets and larger-screened smartphones?

Samsung released a very sarcastic video that sums it all up. But what I am left wondering is whether or not Samsung will quickly blow the whistle and sue the pants off of their hypocritical chief competitor much in the same way that was done to them.

Only time will tell.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll stick with my Apple iPad Retina Mini for all my iOS needs, but I'll take a pass on the iPhone 6 Plus and stick with the Galaxy Note line and move from the 3 to the 4 when it is released.

I'll let the hypocrites OOPS I mean Apple Enthusiasts have their feeding frenzy with the stylus-less iPhone 6 Plus that they swore off before Apple lost its mind and followed the leader on phablet phorm phactors.

Carlton Flowers
THE GADGET GURU

Apple Gets Samsunged By Timex - Introducing Ironman One!

TIMEX SHOCKS ALL, INTRODUCES INDEPENDENT SMARTWATCH

Sorry Apple, but Timex just beat you to the punch. While we've all been patiently waiting for the Apple Geniuses to release a smart watch that will one-up Samsung, Timex kicks the door in and beats them all. I for one never saw this coming.

The Timex Ironman One will be the first smartwatch that will work independently of a smartphone. Why it took this long for someone to come up with a stand-alone smartwatch that isn't just a bluetooth extension of a smartphone is beyond me. But it is really refreshing to see the age old watchmaker make mince meat of the big players.

The Ironman One GPS smartwatch will run on the AT&T network, independent of a smartphone. Finally, someone has gotten this right. And I think it will take quite a bit to catch up to Timex now that they have entered the market for smartwatches.

Looking at the Ironman One's features, this is a serious device. Here's what the company reports that it will feature:

  • Stand-alone wireless connectivity without a phone
  • Email-based messaging capabilities
  • Tracking capabilities that communicate the user’s location to friends and family anytime, anywhere
  • Custom-built “Find Me Mode” safety solution, which allows users to send an alert with
  • exact location in case of an emergency
  • Ability to track speed, distance and pace in real-time and instantaneously share
  • performance metrics through your favorite social media and online fitness platforms
  • Water resistance up to 50 meters, an essential feature for water exposure, training in the rain or swimming
  • Built-in MP3 component with 4 GB of memory to play music via a Bluetooth headset
  • Always-on, sunlight-readable, high-resolution touch display

This is the real deal, folks. If I'm going to drop the bucks on a smartwatch or a GPS unit for running, this is exactly what I would be looking for. I see no reason to have to drag around my smartphone while running when there is a device like this out on the market.

I'm not sure of pricing yet, but I would assume it would be in the range of some of the current Garmin GPS watches that are on the market now. But one thing is for sure, Timex has the reputation and experience to make this work, and to put the marketing behind it with the help of AT&T.

Samsung has enjoyed all of the spotlight while Apple farts around (as they usually do) waiting to enter this market. But both Samsung and Apple will hurt if this takes off. I'll be looking for an opportunity to test this device in the future and give a full report!

Until then, Apple has my sympathy.

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Top 5 Ways You Can FUBAR Your Smartphone & How To Avoid It

MOST COMMON WAYS SMARTPHONES GET FOULED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

Smartphones help to make us smart, when they are taken care of. But people are stupid, and can tend to be careless. When you combine mindless busy people with expensive smartphones, you get some pretty common mishaps that spell disaster for your sanity and your bank accounts.

In order to help you avoid disaster and the devistation that comes along with iFUBAR'ing your iPhone (or other Android device), let's look at the top five mishaps and hope you will keep these in the back of your mind before you do something stupid.

Just so you know, I have done three of these. So I am your primary example of smartphone user stupidity! That being said, let's look at the Top 5, each with my tips on how you can avoid each type of FUBAR stupidity.

1) Toilet Baptism - Did you know that 30% of smartphones end up in the toilet? I was surprised to learn this truth. Water damage can spell the end of your smartphone, especially if you try to turn it on and check it after giving it a swim.  

How to avoid: go back to reading magazines and books during bathroom time. For goodness' sake... you probably need a 10-minute break from that ratchet little device anyway.

2) Death By Buttocks - I did this one myself, just 4 months ago. You're busy doing something, but you want your phone close. So you shove it in your back pocket. Forgetting it is there, you sit down on something. For me, it was an old car seat cushion on the floor. I was working on a car. Even with the padding, my butt cheeks applied enough pressure to ever so slightly flex the LCD and destroy it. The glass didn't even break, but no more display.

How to avoid: get a fanny pack, no more back pocket stashing. Remember that you won't remember stashing it back there in the first place.

3) The "Tuck-And-Forget" - I cannot tell you how many times I have done this, and I never learn. With this destruction method, it involves getting in your car. Your phone is in your hand, and you figure you'll just tuck the phone in between your legs whle you drive, so you don't drop it in under the seats or step on it. As soon as you tuck it under your legs, you forget it's there. When you get out of the car, the phone shoots out like a torpedo and skips across the parking lot.

How to avoid: Mount a smartphone holster on your dashboard.

4) The Finger Fumble - This is the most basic and common way to FUBAR your smartphone. You think you have your device securely in your hands, and for no apparent reason, your fingers fumble the phone and it takes a nice long trip down to the ground. What makes this worse is the "catch-the-phone-with-your-foot" save method, which only makes it worse. Each and every time I have tried this save, I end up drop kicking the phone and sending it another 10' through the air, only to suffer an even harder fall.

How to avoid: get a big fat solid case. You will never solve the finger fumble, it will happen. You can only minimalize the damage it causes!

5) The "Set-It-And-Forget-It" - We've all done this at some time or another. It usually ends in a most tragic way. It starts with you loading something into your car. Your smartphone is in your hand, so the closest place you can put it is on top of your car (or on the trunk deck). By the time you load your stuff, you've forgotten where the phone is. You peel out, the phone slides off the car, and falls perfectly underneath your tire to die a quick death of mega crunching. Seems like a stunt crew would have trouble reproducing this sequence of events, but it works like a charm when it's your expensive smartphone.

How to avoid: put a sticker on your car that says "Do NOT place expensive objects on this slick, shiny surface, you putz!"

None of us want our smartphones fouled up beyond all recognition. So recognize these tips, and save yourself from frustration and the depletion of your bank account! Do you have any FUBAR stories you'd like to share with others? Chime in the comments section and tell us all! You might save us all!

Carlton Flowers
Chief FUBAR Prevention Expert

Top 5 Reasons To Consider The New Samsung Galaxy S5

SAMSUNG GALAXY S5 AVAILABLE FOR PRE ORDER ON 3/21/2014

Okay folks, Samsung has announced opening day for pre orders on the AT&T version of the Galaxy S5 smartphone! Let's take a look at the top 5 reasons that you should consider grabbing an S5 hot off the presses and be the first to get your hands on one when they ship.

1) Standard Price Point - The Galaxy S5 will be available for the standard contract price of $199. Sure, the price will drop over time, but why wait and end up with a smartphone that is going to become obsolete? If you want the cutting edge, get on the edge now. It's not worth waiting several months just to save fifty bucks, more or less. This phone is packed with blazing fast hardware, and tons of new gadgety features.

2) Fingerprint Sensor - Like Apple's iPhone 5S, the Galaxy S5 will come standard with a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone. The scanner is built underneath the actual display, so it doesn't take up any space and make the unusable portion of the phone any bigger. I would find high use of the sensor, because unlock patterns are a pain in the rear. I normally turn off the security for this reason, and that's a dangerous thing to do with a smartphone. They've really stepped up the ease of total security with this feature. Well worth the effort!

3) 16 Megapixel Camera - The new camera on this phone breaks records again. Sure, there are other models with ridiculous cameras like the 41Mp lens on the Nokia Lumia. But this is the best possible camera you can have on a smartphone without adding ridiculous bulk. Plus the new features that are packed into camera functionality are seriously enticing. They knocked it out the park with this camera, again.

4) Super Fast Processing Power - The Galaxy S5 will set you on the cutting edge of speed with its 2.5GHz quad core processor. For the non-techies, this just means that you will be able to open applications with blazing speed, and multitask apps without dragging down the phone. Everything speeds up when you have a powerful processor like this. Add in 2Gb of RAM, and you won't be sitting and waiting much at all to perform any function on this smartphone.

5) Awesome Display - They've upped the quality of the display yet again with a 5.1" full HD Super AMOLED screen that has 1080 by 1920 resolution and 432ppi pixel density. That means brilliant colors, deep black color, amazing contrast, and viewing that can give you enjoyment like watching an LED TV. Samsung has always brought their "A Game" with the display. This one continues to impress like all previous models. Why settle for less?

Sure, there's plenty more that I could drone on about. But this is enough to kick you off the fence if you are trying to make a buying decision. Chances are, you won't be disappointed with this device if having the best is what you want. All gadget nerds (like me) should be solidly satisfied with what it has to offer.

This is no mediocre incremental upgrade from the Galaxy S4. It will run faster, download data quicker, and tease your eyes with its brilliant display, all while giving you plenty of added features and options to give you the best smartphone experience possible. So there you have it!

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy Watchman