The Facebook Poke - What Exactly Does It "Mean" To You?

DOES THE "POKE" MAKE SENSE TO YOU? AN IN-DEPTH LOOK!

Over the past year, I've noticed something very interesting surrounding the Facebook Poke - either people understand it fully, or it makes absolutely no sense and causes complete consfusion and is surrounded in mystery.

Last week, I made a post on my Facebook timeline. It said, "The are two types of people in this world: those that understand the concept of the Facebook Poke, and those that do not." This sparked quite an interesting discussion about the phenomenon known as "poking".

The discussion was so wild, it prompted me to write this post to try to give insight to the people that just don't get the whole "poking" thing. I live in a house divided. Of the Facebookers in my family, two completely "get it", and two can't make any sense out of it. So I will try to give some insight on what I believe poking is all about.

In my Facebook world, I have an inner circle of friends and family who are big believers of the Poke. It is very meaningful to us, and the use of poking is just simply understood automatically. While I've brought several people into my Secret Order of the Poke, there are several others who don't understand it at all.

Some of my new "Pokees", upon receiving their first poke on my behalf, have contacted me immeidately to ask, "why did you do that, and what exactly does that mean?" I get a good laugh out of that reaction.

I find great difficulty at times trying to explain to them why they've been poked, and some don't seem to be able to catch on and understand. But those that do become avid Pokers. But what exactly does it mean?

To members of my inner poke circle, a Poke is a means of staying in touch in a busy world without the need to write emails, instant messages, or making phone calls. Sure, we still keep in touch from time-to-time, but the Poke is a fabulous way to keep people close and let them know that you are alive and well.

To the avid pokers, a Poke is a simple way to say hi. It's an exciting thing to run through your poke list and dole out a fresh round of reaching out to touch your friends. For example, every few days I come to expect a poke from cousin Ritchie, daughter Erika, high school friend Dawn, college buddy Sean, church buddy David, coworker Tandi, and several others.

I even love to get a poke from my lovely wife Schasta, even though she protests all the while. When my daughter and I poke her, the response is usually "WHY DO YOU KEEP POKING ME! STOP!!!", to which my daughter hilariouisly replies, "then quit poking me back!". We just laugh and keep it up.

But my son Scott, like some others, refuses to poke back. His response is usually something along the lines of "that doesn't make any logical sense! I'm not poking anyone!"

Several others get really uneasy when they receive a poke, because it doesn't come with an explanation. Some even get freaked out by the action, and take it in a completely weird way.

The Facebook post brought up some interesting questions. Family friend Sister Kim asked if poking people of the same sex was an acceptable practice, because she had heard that a friend took offense to it. Others even wondered if there was some sort of sexual connotation to the poke.

While poking can be something as simple as a "hello", there's nothing to say that some users don't pop out a poke to express a romantic interest in the pokee. It can spark feelings of creepiness or unease.

In the past, I have had the experience of single guys poking some of my female friends who they are not connected with on Facebook. This is clearly a violatoin of Poke ethics. When this happens, I normally get a message from my female friend asking "who is this weirdo friend of yours poking me, and did you tell him to do that?"

I considered writing a post on my Facebook wall stating a rule that there will be no bird-dogging of my female friends by single men without my expressed written permission, or a $100 fine would be levied against any violators. But I chose to just let it go.

But with all of the good and the bad, the Poke can be a wonderful thing if used properly. In fact, I continue to grow my Inner Poke Circle as time marches on. It is something that my poke family has grown to love.

At the same time, I respect those that have no use for the Poke, don't get the Poke, or are simply befuzzled by what it means. I just stay in touch with those friends the old fashioned way.

What does the Facebook Poke mean to you? Are you an avid Poker, or is it something that you could care less for? Join the Poke discussion and tell me about your poke experience!

Carlton Flowers
Premier Poke Pontiff

 

Samsung To Bring Knockout-Punch Low-Cost Tablet In 2014

"GALAXY TAB 3 LITE" COMING IN JANUARY OF 2014?

Rumors are swirling about the release of a super low-cost tablet coming from Samsung that could possibly corner the market on base-level tablets. Insiders say that it will be called the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite.

At a price of $135 for the WiFi version, this could be the knockout punch that crowns Samsung the heavyweight champion in the tablet market.

Already known for making high quality products, this would make a purchasing decision fairly easy for someone who doesn't want to spend a pile on a tablet.

The form factor of this tablet will probably follow the 7" Galaxy Tab 3, but it will be a tad bit stripped down on features and/or processing power.

A 3G version will supposedly be rolled out 3 weeks after the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite WiFi model, along with an all-black version.

People are wondering what is up with the big dogs focusing on the low-end tablet market. Apparently, the low-end tablet niche is a growth market. There's not much further they can go with the expensive tablets, so this is apparently fertile ground.

I for one would be a prime target. I usually will focus on having whatever the top-flight smartphone is at the time, and I don't really need a super expensive tablet.

But if the price is right, I could see myself using a tablet for video content, reading, checking email, and running basic apps. I wouldn't need one for more than the most basic functions.

There are a lot of great deals coming our way in the tablet market. I have yet to spend my hard earned money on one of these devices. But which one will I finally bite on? Will it be the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite? Time will tell...

Carlton Flowers
Grand Gadget General Supreme

 

Black Friday Smartphone Report - Samsung Jackpot!

MY BLACK FRIDAY SMARTPHONE SNAGGING SUCCESS STORY

I spent Black Friday 2013 in Eastern Ohio, and was lucky enough to bag the Samsung smartphone special, getting two Galaxy S4 handsets for nothing down. The regular price is $199 with a 2-year contract agreement.

My college "kids" were both due for an upgrade, so this was perfect timing. We didn't hear about the deal until we arrived in Ohio the day before Thanksgiving. I had previously planned on plucking a couple of Galaxy S3 devices for their gadget pleasure, but that idea quickly got nixed when I heard about the deal.

We could have actually gotten the new Galaxy smartphones on Thursday, but we waited until Friday. We figured the masses would go after the first day, and the crowd would be much smaller on the second day. That wasn't the case...

We arrived at Best Buy at twelve o'clock. I made my way to the cell phone area, and there was quite a line. It wasn't like one of those obsene lines that go outside and around the building, but it was bad enough. Activating new smartphones takes some time, so even a short line can take an eternity.

The Best Buy rep told us that we were approximately 3 hours away from being served. We all looked at each other, wondering if this would be worth the trouble, but decided to go for it. My wife and daughter bailed to go shoe shopping while my son and I held our place in the line.

Some people were worried about the Galaxy S4's running out of stock by the time they arrived to the front. But we were told that 90% of the people in line were on Verizon, so we were safe with our need of AT&T handsets. That was a relief.

Originally, I had planned on upgrading my son, daughter, and wife's smartphones. The son and daughter had their Samsung Galaxy S2 handsets, and the wife had a Galaxy S2 Skyrocket with an LTE radio. Sadly, we were told while in line that there was a 2-phone limit per family on the zero-down upgrade deal. 

By the time we made it to the front of the line, we found out that my son and daughter's upgrade date was actually one day away. We were a day early! I didn't think once about checking my upgrade eligibility before getting in line. That wasn't very smart!

But thankfully, after speaking to the representatives over the phone at AT&T, we were relieved and truly thankful when they rolled back the upgrade date by one day. Our 3-hour wait was not made in vain.

It took an additional hour to get our phones activated, because I didn't have my bill current. After paying my monthly bill, we were able to move forward and set up the new phones. Since I had an existing plan that I wanted to keep, it took quite a bit of work for the Best Buy rep and the AT&T phone rep but they finally got everything switched over.

We were all exhausted after this long process, but in the end, I would do it all over again. The special is still on today, a day later, but there's no guarantee that it will go beyond today. 2 years ago, I was able to land the S2's and the Skyrocket on similar Black Friday deals. Both of those models returned to their full prices after Cyber Monday.

Last but not least, my wife's upgrade will be available in two days. I have a big decision to make. I'll either look for another Galaxy S4 deal, or pass down my own Galaxy S4 (after I fix it) and get a Galaxy Note 3 for myself. But we will save that for the next post!

Did you land a great deal on Black Friday that you would like to share? Post it in the Disqus comments section!

Carlton Flowers
Black Friday Gadget Sniper 

The Motorola Moto X Review Rises Like The Phoenix

IT'S BACK! CONTINUED REVIEW ON THE MOTOROLA MOTO X SMARTPHONE

Several weeks ago, I had a couple of initial reviews of the new Motorola Moto X (AT&T) smartphone, and I was really excited to get the ball rolling on a thorough test of this great little device. But I hit a snag...

I lost the smartphone!

To my horror, I couldn't find the phone because I let it sit for 2 days and the battery (which actually has great performance) was dead as a doornail. Calling the phone wouldn't help me one bit. I put the Moto X in such a great place, I couldn't find it after tearing my whole house apart and searching my "man bag" twice.

For the past month, I have been haunted by the feeling that it was somewhere close. I've never lost a smartphone (or anthing else of great value), and something just didn't "feel" right. I had a strange feeling that it was somewhere close to me.

A couple of days ago, I reached in my man bag to look for something, and would you guess what my hands accidentally felt in one of the inside compartments? It was the Moto X! You can only imagine how much of a lunk head I felt like, discovering that the smartphone was with me the entire time it was "lost"!

I immediately jumped back on this phone, quickly discovering why I love this device so much. It has such a clean appearance and feel, and is made like the rugged device that it was advertised to be. Having the power and volume buttons on one side is so refreshing. And operating the device is unlike any other I've tested.

The reason?

It's free of bloatware. Motorola has definitely snuffed out most of the competition on this fact alone. You don't have to wade through tons of extra add-on apps that you'll never use, the types that only advertise for extra services that you don't really need. That's quite refreshing.

And the operating system functions incredibly fast as a result. You're never running a pile of useless applications in the background, so the phone can load and run your apps much more efficiently.

The display on the Moto X is absolutely wonderful. The graphics are extremely sharp and brilliant, video content runs as smooth as butter, and the basic layout just looks wonderful.

The built-in notification sounds are not annoying like many other devices which can be downright intrusive. You don't have to fumble through the notification sounds to calm the phone down and force it not to drive you up the walls.

All of this adds up to a quality user experience. I've already made the recommendation that this would be a great first smartphone device for anyone, but also a good choice for someone who isn't focused on having a pile of quirky extras that muddle up your general usage.

I'm going to jump back in the saddle and finish my test of this device and give the final report very soon. Look for it in the coming week!

Carlton Flowers
Absent-Minded Tech Professor

 

 

Nexus 5 Review Hands-On Coming Soon!

LG NEXUS 5 COMES ON TO THE ANDROID SCENE

The delicious LG Nexus 5 with KitKat (Anroid 4.4) is coming to stores and mailboxes! I haven't given this new smartphone much attention, but it's been stirring up quite a bit of buzz. Tomorrow, I hope to video an unboxing of fellow gadget geek Travis Fitzwater's new Nexus 5.

You'll only be able to get the Nexus 5 from AT&T (my choice), Sprint, and T-Mobile. Sorry Big Red customers, you get no Nexus love. Yet.

This is looking like a very decent smartphone, tech-wise. It's packing enough power to have motivated my pal Travis into jumping ship (or at least temporarily) from the world of Apple. It packs a 2.3GHz quad core processor made by Snapdragon, and a healthy 2Gb of RAM (this seems to be the new standard).

The display is nothing short of glorious. It looks like LG has hit a homer with the 5" 1080p screen. This seems to be the trend in smartphone screen size these days. And this big puppy is powered by a 2300mAh battery that has wireless charging capability. Very impressive.

The new Nexus 5 has a Gorilla Glass front screen and a palstic casing. You all know how big of a fan of plastic form factors I am when it comes to smartphones. But for those who are critical, I've read that the pastic on the Nexus 5 has a very silky "quality-like" feel, for whatever that's worth.

The Nexus 5 looks to be super thin, and stretches the edges of the display to the limits. It's right up to the edges of the bezel. It's slightly rounded on the sides, so that should give it a comfortable feel in the hands.

Camera-wise, you have a 1.3Mp front facing cam and an 8Mp rear main camera. That sounds like a step back, but it is supposed to have optical image stabilization (OIS) for reducing blur. That's a big plus in my opinion. I'd rather have less megapixels and blur control, because 13Mp will do you no good when you need to use a tripod to get a good picture.

Price-wise, this looks like one heck of a bargain at $349 for the 16Gb version if you're buying the device straight out. It's probably going to be $150 on contract. Add fifty bucks for the 32Gb version and it's still a great deal.

That's about all I want to cover for now. I'll wait to give more useful details when we rip into the box of Travis's new Nexus 5, and I'll have a YouTube video to share the exicitement with you! Stay tuned!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Master

iPad Air Drops November 1st From AT&T

IPAD AIR - THINNER, LIGHTER, FASTER

I've had several people ask me about the new iPad Air coming out Friday, November 1st via AT&T. Let's take a look at some of the details on this slick new tablet hot off the Apple press!

As the name denotes, iPad air is going to be thinner and lighter, and of course the fastest processing power to date. It weighs in at a super light 1 pound. That's 20% lighter than its predecessor, the iPad 4th generation tablet.

Plus it is 28% thinner. How this thing could get any more slim is beyond me, but the Apple devs have apparently been hard at work using miniaturizing ray guns to thin this device out more than all of the previous models.

It has an even narrower bezel than iPad 4th generation, which basically means that the iPad Air stretches the viewable display farther to the edges of the device. It gives a more futuristic experience than ever.

Its packing a brilliantly sharp 9.7" Retina display, which means you'll get some seriously sharp text for ease of reading. This means you'll hardly notice the difference between reading on this display from reading in a print magazine.

Apps will run super fast with the improved A7 cpu chip which is a 64-bit processor. That's kind of like upgrading a 4-lane highway to 8 lanes, which means it can move more data to push your favorite apps even faster. That will seriously decrease load times and graphics processing.

Your wireless capability will be faster for both WiFi and 4G LTE operation. With more an more LTE coverage around the nation, the iPad Air with a data plan will be a blast and give you blazing speeds on the go. Couple that with all the new iOS7 features, and you're in for a great tablet experience.

AT&T will be offering a variety of data plans for the iPad Air, including device data sharing. If you already have a wireless account, you can start off with a $10 addition to power your wireless browsing.

You also have the new pay-per-use plans that start at 250mb for one day for five bucks, and you can take that all the way to a one-time 30 day deal for $50 that gives you 5Gb of data. You can get the skinny on all the available plans at www.att.com/ipad.

For those of you who like to stay on the cutting edge, I think you'd be happy to jump on one of these. I'm going to have to go check this out myself and get a quick test drive. Up until now, I haven't been a big fan of tablets because they are too heavy in my hands. But this one might hit the mark.

Stay with me and I'll be back with a video as soon as I catch one of these puppies out in the wild!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Monster

 

 

 

Bitstrips - Fun Phenomenon, Or Most Annoying Social Media Creation In History?

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BITSRIPS INVASION

About a month ago, I was perusing the Facebook place, and I noticed something was seriously different. There were cartoon strips everywhere. I couldn't scroll for more than a page length without some cartoon strip showing up with different characters and scenes.

But something just didn't add up... the artwork was amazing, and the layout looked just like a professional had designed them all. Each cartoon strip was slightly similar but unique in nature.

However, there was one huge thing that each and every one of them had in common:

They weren't funny.

Not only were these cartoon strips lacking any trace of humor, they were just plain stupid. Almost every strip that I viewed didn't have a story line or punchline.

Instead, there were random references to things that I couldn't have had a clue about as to what was being referenced.

Then it dawned on me... these were being created by Facebook users. Apparently they had all found some way to create their own custom cartoon strips. That explained the this-is-entirely-not-funny aspect. But how were they making them?

I had to dig a while, but then I discovered the "Bitstrips" app on my Android device (you can get an iOS version too). The precipice is that you can create your own custom avatar, and even avatars for cartoon versions of your friends.

Next, you get to choose from a variety of pre-made cartoon scenes or progressions, and all you have to do is fill in the text bubbles. The end result? You get your very own high-quality cartoon feature! Unfortunately, they don't supply the humor.

The problem is, 99% of people are not very good at comedic writing. Instead of making a cartoon strip that would be understood by any reader, and written for humor value, we have "Bitstrippers" who create cartoon scenes involving their friends involving situations that only they would understand.

What is so annoyingly common is that the Bitstrippers create cartoon strips from inside jokes. But why does this rub people like me the wrong way?

It's due to the nature of a cartoon strip. When you are perusing Facebook or other social media site and you come across a cartoon, you get instantly excited because you anticipate something that will give you a good laugh. The Bitstrippers fool you into thinking you're about to experience a great funny, but you are completely let down when the cartoon makes absolutely no sense.

Right when I was able to write this off as a pure annoyance plaguing Facebook, someone tagged me in a Bitstrip cartoon with an inside joke that involved an experience between only myself and the Bitstripping creator. What happened next surprised me...

I laughed insanely.

So I decided to dig further into this Bitstrip mess, and I found that a great number of my friends had avatars set up when I perused my Bitstrip app account on my Samsung Galaxy 4 smartphone. Then came surprise number two...

I found a friend's avatar that made me break out into laughter because it looked just like him. Then I had a second surge of uncontrollable laughter when I instantly thought of an inside joke cartoon strip that I could create starring the two of us.

Could this be the start of my downfall? Will this lead into an addiction? Will I become an annoying Bitstripper that drives everyone insane with comedy-less inside jokes and situations that absolutely no other person will understand?

The jury is still out on that note. Time will only tell. In the meantime, I'm still of the opinion that Bitstrips need to disappear from the Facebook universe, never to be found again. I'm close to disabling it on my own Facebook account. And I don't want to be assimilated into the Bitstripper Borg population.

But will I miss out on some tremendous fun?

Who knows.

Carlton Flowers
Potential Bitstripper

 

 

Hands-On With The Motorola Moto X Smartphone

MOTOROLA MOTO X REVIEW - A DURABLE SMARTPHONE SOLUTION

I've spent several days with the Motorola Moto X smartphone from AT&T, and it's turning out to be a solid device that I would give a definite positive recommendation for those looking to buy a no-nonsense smartphone that will not only hold up to heavy use, but one that will get the job done.

You can check out the video below to get my initial reaction after my first day with this device. As promised, I'll give you a few more details about the specs and features of this phone that that I really like.

First off, I mistakenly mentioned in the video that the Moto X has 1Gb of RAM. It actually has 2Gb of RAM, which is great. This gives the device top-notch ability to crank through applications with speed, and puts it right in the middle of the best smartphones on the market today.

I call it a "no nonsense" smartphone because it's not loaded up with what they call "bloatware", or extra apps that you really don't need which push you to pay for services outside of the basic functions. It offers a much cleaner platform with much less clutter.

You can get this smartphone with 16Gb or 32Gb of internal storage memory, which is plenty enough to keep your pictures, videos, and your favorite applications. You don't have the ability to put in an extra SD card, but that's not a deal breaker.

The screen is absolutely brilliant. It's a 720 x 1280 pixel display with 16 million colors in a 4.7" diagonal size that fits great in your hands. You can operate the Moto X with one hand with no problem, and you can really enjoy rich video content. I didn't realize it even had a 4.7" size, because it fits as snugly in your hand as the former Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone that has a 4.3" display.

Something else that I really like is the power cube. It has 2 USB 2.0 plugs, something I have never had with a smartphone power cord. That means you can power up another device while charging your phone, like a tablet or music device. That's very cool.

I love the fact that they put the power button and the volume buttons on the right side together. The buttons pertrude and are super easy to locate without looking at the device. I find it a lot easier to use the buttons on the same side rather than on the right and left, or power button on the top.

The USB power connector is also on the bottom of the device, which I love. There are a few smartphone devices on the market that have the power cord on the top, and on the side. I find that to be very annoying. I'd much rather power my smartphone from the bottom of the device.

Strangely, the Moto X reminds me of an HTC device. It is strikingly similar to HTC One with its shape, but slightly smaller even though the display is the exact same size. Plus you get a solid polycarbonate back that has a rubbery feel that is more grippable than the regular smooth shiny back plates. That's a big plus because I have a propensity to let smartphones slide out of my hand when using them.

You get Corning Gorilla Glass on the front, and Motorola claims it is "scratch proof". I'm not able to take a nail to this device to test that feature out, but I trust that they know what they're talking about. Add that to the solid body, and you get a super durable smartphone.

The Moto X packs a 4G LTE radio for all of its offerings, on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. That means you'll be able to surf the web at top speed while in LTE coverage areas.

The camera is very decent at 10Mp, and takes great pictures. There are several devices on the market with 13Mp cameras, but the Moto X takes great shots and you won't notice a real difference. It has an LED flash, face recognition, and can take panoramic pics. The front camera is 2Mp in size, and that also puts it right in the middle of the top devices for those that love taking good quality selfies, and for video chatting.

You get a Li-Ion 2200 mAh battery that performs well and lasts long with regular use. Plus it doesn't seem to generate as much heat as some of the competitor's devices.

You also have a Dual-core 1.7 GHz Krait CPU, which probably lends to its cooler operation. You've got a lot of devices with quad core processors, and they are definitely faster. But even with a middle-of-the-road CPU, most people aren't going to notice much of a difference. It's a good tradeoff.

The shape of the phone's backing is similar to an HTC One with its rounded design. It won't sit flat on the table for those that like texting with their smarpthone sitting down, but you can solve that with a case. It does feel great in your hands though, thanks to that design.

Overall, the Moto X is a go for those that want a smartphone that will get the simple tasks done without piles of extra gimmicky functions. I think this would be a great device for someone who has never owned a smartphone, and for those that want a device that will stand up to heavy use and a beating.

Check out the video, and I'll be writing more about this device at the end of my test period! Comments or questions? Hit me up and let's talk about it! Special thanks to AT&T St. Louis for the review device!

Carlton Flowers

Chief Geek Tester

The CZ Rundown Of The New Motorola "Moto X"

MOTOROLA MOTO X SMARTPHONE - THE QUICK REPORT!

The Motorola Moto X is on the shelves and available for you to nab. Up to this point, I had not read much on this device. But I love the commercials, and the features they stress. So I took the time to look into this handset and give you a quck rundown.

I have not had the chance to test this device hands-on, but that will hopefully happen soon. This one is on my hit list of smartphones that I would love to have a test drive of.

First off, Motorola brags about how the Moto X is "assembled in the US". That doesn't mean much, being that the components are still made in China and Korea, but I guess that's a positive thing that they at least employ some US citizens for putting these puppies together. So that's halfaway commendable.

It looks like a solid design, but I need to hold one in my hands to confirm that. I do like what they are saying about how it is surviving drop tests better than any other device, plus how they have made a seemingly scratch-proof screen. That's all good in my book.

The body is polycarbonate material, like the Nokia Lumia 1020. Some say it even feels ceramic. But that definitely adds strength and durability. The more durable, the better. I think smartphones are way too expensive as it is, so any efforts that the manufacturers make to get these things designed better for standing up to abuse is awesome.

Google has set up voice activation for everything on this phone. Any task you need to perform can be initiated with voice. That would put it a step ahead of Samsung's S Voice, and possibly Apple's Siri. Can't wait to test the functionality of that.

The display looks pretty optimal. It's a 4.7" AMOLED RGB with 720HD & 316 pixels per square inch. It's smaller in size than the Galaxy S4, and closer in size to the HTC One. It might fit in your hand better, but I'm thinking it will still be too big to do much texting with one hand. But this display is supposedly pretty decent to look at.

The camera looks good on the Moto X. It's not the top of the pile by any means, but it will get the job done. It shoots in 1080p HD for video, and the rear camera is 10Mp in size. Plus you get the standard front-facing camera. Not bad at all.

There are a couple of really cool things that are unique with this device. First is the bonus storage space you get from Google Drive. They will dole out an extra 50Gb of space to your free 15Gb account if you buy this phone. That gives you a whopping 65Gb of free cloud storage to jam all of your photos and videos into for safe keeping.

The other cool extra is the ability to buy the Motorola "Skip Clip" for an extra $19.99. You clip this on your belt or shirt, and when you go to your phone, you can unlock it with one touch. If the clip isn't within close proximity, it will abide by the regular unlock settings.

If you get the Skip Clip, you also get three "Skip Dots" for free. They are the sticker versions of the clip that you can stick to your desk (or wherever else you'd like).

The battery on this device packs in a whopping 2200mAh, and reports are that it has a long life in-between charging. That's a plus.

All-in-all, I think this smartphone will be a hit. While it's not on the bleeding edge of technology, is one version of Android under the most current version (4.2 rather than 4.3), and has no SD card capability, I'm still gonna give this device a thumbs-up before I even get one in my hands to test.

I'll post up an audio to discuss this more, and keep your eyes peeled in the near future for some video and a full demo!

Carlton Flowers
Smartphone Geek Supreme

 

Apple iPhone 5C Fruit Fest - Hot Or Not?

AUDIO POST - THOUGHTS ON FRUITY IPHONE 5C

Check it out folks, I'm still jabbering on about the iPhone 5C and all of its colorful greatness. There are a few more points that I cover in this short audio post that I threw together from my smartphone today, and some of the same points I made in yesterday's audio post.

Come join me as I continue on with my discussion about the iPhone 5C, and hear my thoughts on what I would pick as a second smartphone device! Click the image below to launch your device's audio player, and hit me up in the comments section!

Carlton Flowers
Audio Podcastasaurus

CLICK IT!

 

 

CZ Audio Podcast Is Back! Is iPhone 5C Influencing Samsung?

THE AUDIO PODCAST RETURNS! LATEST TALK ON IPHONE RELEASE & MORE

I have finally gotten around to getting back to my audio podcasting. I'd like to know from you, my great CZ Blog gang, whether or not you would like to see more audio podcasts like this posted to the site to fill up all the dead space between my fantastic blog posts.

I tend to write in streaks, and then disappear into the land of being "too busy". But as much of a talker that I am, it's very easy for me to post audio content to the site as opposed to writing the super fabulous techno nerd content that you've enjoyed for so long.

Post your thoughts in the comments section on what you think of more frequent audio podcasts. You can even suggest topics for discussion, ask questions, or even request a song selection for me to sing. I'll leave that up to you.

But in today's podcast, we'll talk about the release of the new iPhone 5S and 5C, and what surprising twist has popped up in terms of sales for Apple. Also, has the iPhone 5C influenced Samsung in some special way? Find out how in the podcast!

Looking forward to hearing back from you, and here's your audio podcast. Just click the podcast image or the link below and it will open up your mobile device media player:

 

Click Here To Listen Now!

Carlton Flowers
Techie Podcast Yapper 

 

Rant Alert! What Is With All The "Plastic" Samsung Yip Yap?

ARE SAMSUNG PRODUCTS CHEAP PLASTIC LOW QUALITY JUNK?

I must be on an island all by my lonesome... I'm the only blogger on the planet who doesn't constanty berate Samsung for making cheap, flimsy, plastic-like products.

Is it just me, or is it actually appear that every noteworthy blogger and tech junkie reviewer seems to slam and smear Samsung smartphones for having a cheap build? I see this happening almost daily when I search for Samsung stories.

I've noticed a repeating pattern. The prognosticators will predict that the next big Samsung smarphone will come in new bullet-proof heavy metal packaging, parting ways with their previous plastic design. Then the product is released, and said prognosticators pummel Samsung for failing to provide a new "higher quality" build.

But has the thought ever occured to these writers who constantly complain about the plastic casing that Samsung might have an actual reason for sticking with their basic design? Wouldn't it stand to reason that the #1 selling smartphone manufacturer would be doing this on purpose?

Somewhere back in history, someone equated bulk, breakability, and heaviness with "quality". And this opinion has somehow stuck in the minds of the tech world. If a smartphone doesn't pass the basic weight test, the product must be "cheap".

Writers continue to implore Samsung to produce a "higher quality" device, or suffer sagging sales if they continue to keep the same stance. But the sales success has not stopped.

I'm guessing that I am the sole tech blogger who believes lighter, thinner, less breakable smartphones are what people want. After breaking each and every iPhone I've owned, I'm left with no desire invest a dime in a heavy device that can't survive a drop.

All one needs to do in order to be swayed to my line of thinking is to watch videos of drop tests. Drop an iPhone, an HCT device, and a Samsung smartphone from 3' high to a nice unforgiving concrete surface. I don't need to tell you the results that you will plainly see.

So for all of the critics and complainers, you can keep cursing Samsung and pleading with them to ditch their plastic design concept on their next series of smartphones. I for one sincerely hope that Samsung turns a deaf ear to the anti-plastic yip yap, and continue manufacturing durable, less breakable devices.

As far as the up-and-coming Samsung Galaxy Note III is concerned, I say wrap it up in plastic. Stick to your guns, and I'll be the first in line to buy. If you break with tradition and create a heavy, bulky, breakable Galaxy line, I'll say you will have made the dumbest smartphone move possible.

Hopefully someone at Samsung headquarters will see my silly little rant. Maybe it will help them keep on keeping on, making smart smartphone design decisions as they should.

Until then, the critics can keep buying iPhones and the likes, along with their bulky $75 monstrous Otterbox cases... because they have to. Ha.

Carton Flowers
Plastics Proponent

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Mega Hands On With CZ Blog

THE SAMSUNG GALAXY MEGA - MY REACTION!

I've spent 3 amazing days with the new Samsung Galaxy Mega from AT&T, and it has been quite a bit of fun! I'm ready to share a few details about this gigantic device, if you're considering this phablet as your main communications device.

First of all, let's tell you about what this device is. It's a mid-range smartphone made to fit your budget and give you the best multimedia experience without breaking the bank. I like that idea. This would be the perfect combo for those wanting a smartphone and a tablet all in one.

The display on this device happens to be a 720p Super Clear LCD display. This is a step down from the AMOLED HD displays found in the top of the line Galaxy S4. Even though it is a less expensive display, only experts will really notice a big difference.

The display is good enough to rock video content, and I absolutely love the extra size for watching a movie or YouTube video content. Plus, it's a complete blast for playing games like Candy Crush Saga, my secret addiction.

On the inside, you'll get a dual core 1.5GHz processor with 1.5Gb of RAM. That's enough muscle to serve up good graphics, push apps, and do some multi tasking along with Samsung's new split screen for running 2 apps in separate windows.

Being the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4, I do notice that there's a bit of a lag when loading apps, videos, and the likes. It's not that the Galaxy Mega is slow by any means, but it does let me know just how powerful my Galaxy S4 is with its more powerful processor and extra half a Gb of RAM.

A lot of the new features that come with the Galaxy S4 are included with the Galaxy Mega, including things like Air View, the ability to minimize a video while running, and all of the nice gesture controls. That's a lot more than what you'll get with other budget tablet devices.

Size-wise, this is a gigantic device that some might complain for being too big to fit in their hands. But for me, I don't seem to mind it that much. I'd rather have a fully-functional tablet with smartphone capabilities than to own two different devices. I got used to the size really quick, and it makes my Galaxy S4 feel like an iPhone in my hands after playing with it a while.

The build of the Galaxy Mega is much like all of the other Galaxy smartphones. It's light, has the same plastic backing, and the faux metal ring surrounding the edges. The back plate does seem to pick up a lot of fingerprints, so those that are finicky about looks might be bothered by that.

Running apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media programs is a blast with the huge display. It's also quite fantastic for surfing the web, using reader software, and watching video content.

I'm actually going to be sad to see this device go back to AT&T tomorrow. If I had money to burn, I might even consider having one of these as a backup phone and primary tablet. But I might hold out for the Galaxy Note III, because I'd love to have something of this size with an S Pen stylus.

At $149 on a 2-year contract, I think this device will certainly hit a groove with those that don't want or need the cutting edge for processing power. Check out more details and have one shipped to your doorstep at the Amazon Wireless store!

Carlton Flowers
Mega Smartphone Fan

Get a Samsung Galaxy Mega for $149 at the Amazon Wireless Store now! Click the link for details!

 

Samsung vs HTC - The Slug Fest

SAMSUNG SMARTPHONES OR HTC? WHICH IS SUPERIOR, AND WHY?

Okay all you smartphone geeks. Let's start a fight. In this round, we will pit the Samsung Galaxy S4 against the HTC One. Of course you know, I own a Galaxy S4. But this post is not about me. I want to hear from you.

Samsung smarpthones are said to be cheap, light-weight cheap devices with way too many useless gadgety features that muck up the user experience. But others claim Samsung makes the best device on the planet with far superior features.

HTC smartphones are said to be heavy, clunky, and breakable, with a horrible after-market interface (HTC Sense). But they are also said to be the devices with a high quality build, superior features, and devoid of all the junk packed in to Samsung smartphones.

Do you own a Samsung Galaxy S4? Or do you pack an HTC One in your front pocket? PhoneRocket gives the edge to Samsung. But I want to hear why you believe (or don't believe) that your device is better than the competition.

I won't interject my opinion in this post. But I will respond to your comments and tell you what I think. Make your point strong, and show me why your device can lay the smackdown on the competition.

Ding ding ding! Let the fight begin, and slug it out!

Carlton Flowers
Cheif Smartphone Debate Instigator

 

"Honey I Shrunk The HTC One" - Coming Soon...

AT&T TO RELEASE HTC ONE MINI THIS MONTH

Another smartphone that I'll be really excited to test out is the HTC One Mini via AT&T Wireless. I'm actually excited about getting a test drive with this device, especially since I've had the opportunity to give the HTC One a try.

The HTC One Mini is coming out on August 23rd for AT&T, and it comes with a fantastic price. You can get one of these in your front pocket for $99 with a 2-year contract. That's a great option for those who don't want a jumbo-sized display, plus a smartphone that has enough power to fuction on a high level for a decent price.

The HTC One Mini steps down the screen size to a manageable 4.3" diagonal, with a 720p Super LCD 2 display. That's decent enough that the majority of people will be fully satisfied with its graphics capability.

On the inside, you'll get a 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor with 1Gb of RAM, plus the same front-facing BoomSound speakers that many consumers love with HTC devices. Add to that the HTC Ultrapixel camera, Anroid 4.2.2 Jellybean operating system, and the HTC Sense 5 overlay.

I think this smartphone will be a hit for the 4.3" smartphone niche, and those who don't need the heavy duty cutting-edge processing power. This would be perfect for general functionality and running the most common apps available in the Google Play Store.

I'll be anxiously awaiting the green light from AT&T St. Louis on this device, and the Samsung Galaxy Ultra in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for a detailed review!

Carlton Flowers
Smartphone Reviewer Extreme

 

Samsung Galaxy Mega Coming To AT&T

MEGA-SIZE SMARTPHONE TEST IS COMING SOON!

The Samsung Mega with its whopping 6.3" display will be coming to my mailbox soon for a full review. I'm super excited about it, and I'm going to spend some quality time running it through the mill.

This is a new concept of giganticizing a smartphone to fill the phablet niche. I think it has definite use, for those that want to perform functions like a tablet can only provide.

It's looking like this will be a budget jumbo smartphone, coming in at a surprising price of only $149 on a 2-year contract via AT&T. But the specs on the phone definitely don't scream "cheap" by any means. Plus it is said to include a lot of the gadgety features of the Galaxy S4, like multi tasking, motion gestures, and more.

I think if your focus is on having a large display and tablet functionality, this might be a hit. The device dosen't pack the power of the Samsung Galaxy S4, but I think it will definitely function and perform well for what it is.

It might be a little bit of a stretch using this as a phone, but I'm open to the idea of having a jumbolicious device like this that provides its own 4G LTE service. I just wish it came with an S Pen, but that might jack the price up beyond what they are targeting.

I'll be watching the horizon for the UPS delivery truck, and I'll give a full report when I break it out of the box. If this is something that would piquie your interest, stay tuned! More info is on the way!

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Fanatic 

 

Samsung Galaxy S4 2-Month Review (AT&T)

THE REAL REASON THE CZ BLOG HAS BEEN SO SPARSE

I'm sure you're wondering where all the tech updates have been over the past couple of months. Well, I've been busy... playing with my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.

Today I'll give you my unrehearsed report of what I think of my Galaxy S4 smartphone, which has been enough of a distraction to keep me from blogging and reviewing other devices.

I'll cover what pops into my mind as it comes, and try to cover the details from the exterior build to the display and then to the performance of this device.

First, I'll tell you what my experience has been on the physical form factor of this device. As you all know, I'm very hard on smartphones. I've broken enough of them over the past 4 years to give you trustworthy report.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been reported to be a cheaply build phone that is lightweight and "plasticy" feeling. This is definitely a positive. I've dropped my Galaxy S4 just a few times, definitely not the number of times that I drop-kicked my Galaxy S2. But due to the light weight and plastic body, the phone has not broken.

There is a large percentage of consumers who feel that a smartphone should feel "solid", and carry enough weight to give the impression that it is a "good build". I can honestly disagree with that. Dropping a Galaxy S4 is not nearly as traumatic of an experience as dropping an iPhone, whatever the model. The lighter the weight, the easier it hits the ground.

I did notice that what I thought was a metal ring around the circumference of the phone is a "faux" metal band. It's really just shiny silver plastic made to give the impression that it has something similar to the iPhone. I would have liked to see a real metal ring around this smartphone, but that would add uneccesary weight. So I can live with that.

The face of the phone and the thin back plate are equally light weight and made of some type of plastic, and this is also somewhat of a negative for some consumers. But for the price you pay for a smartphone whether straight-out or on a 2-year contract, this is something you will appreciate when you drop it.

I have experienced some heating issues when talking on the phone or while multitasking, but it doesn't seem to be any worse than most smartphones. With the size of the processor in this device, you can expect that it will generate a fair amount of heat when in heavy use. Maybe this is something that will be improved on all smartphones in the future.

The display is nothing less than spectacular. Everything that Samsung promised with the 5" Super AMOLED HD 1920x1080 display was delivered in full. Watching video content on this device is unparalleled. I can sit and watch movies, HD YouTube videos, and more without feeling the need to sit and stare at my LCD television. I have no real need to upgrade my television when I can watch quality video wherever I happen to be.

The audio quality of the speaker on the Galaxy S4 gets a passing score, even though the HTC One (and even the One X) have far superior audio performance. But I didn't buy my smartphone to use as a boombox. I don't find myself in many situations where I would prefer using the external speaker over a pair of quality headphones, or the stock ear plugs that came with the device.

The camera is giving me everything I need for taking pictures with my smartphone. I don't expect it to replace a consumer grade digital camera. The 13mp rear camera captures decent still photos, and I have yet to even play with the special effects. The Burst mode feature is fantastic, and gives you a chance to capture the perfect picture without spending a ton of time framing an active scene.

Video quality of the camera is good enough to upload content to YouTube, and this is something that I do use quite frequently to capture and create videos for marketing purposes. Uploading video content via AT&T's 4G LTE network makes YouTube production a snap.

Internally, you've got plenty of muscle with the 1.8GHz processor coupled with 2Gb of RAM. That means multitasking will not considerably drag down the phone's performance when running several apps. You have somewhat of a multitasking capabiltiy with the split screen feature, but you do only have a limited number of apps that can run via split screen.

All of the gadgety fuctions that are jam-packed into the phone give you the ability to customize your experience. I find myself using the hands-free scrolling feature a lot, but I'd love to see this work on all applications, not just the stock Android browser.

I will tell you that the Eye Scroll feature is somewhat useless. It is quirky, and more trouble than what it is worth. I can live without it. But I'd rather have a pile of useless and useful features than none at all. Once you turn off the features that you don't really need, you can settle for the ones that make operation of the phone more fun and convenient.

My only problem is the amount of time that it is taking me to discover all of the hidden features that are built into the phone. But each time that I discover a new hidden feature, it only raises my enjoyment experience.

I tend to use my Galaxy S4 for a lot of busines-related functions, including using a Square Card and Paypal's credit card reader. This turns my smartphone into a mobile credit card terminal. I can perform point-of-sale funcitons on the go, accepting payments on many items that I sell with my businesses.

Looking on the inside, I have no complaints. The powerful processor and 2Gb of RAM is plenty enough to push as many as applications that I want to run at a time. And I love the flexibility of being able to pop off the back and toss in a spare battery that is always fully charged.

All in all, I'm very pleased with my Galaxy S4. Surprisingly, I'm not missing the S Pen that I so hoped this device would have. For now, I'm happy using a rubber-tipped after market stylus. But I will be watching the horizon for the Galaxy Note III and contemplating a switch at that point.

That's all for now, until I dicover more with this amazing smartphone!

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy S4 Enthusiast 

 

JD Power Confirms Why I'm Happy With My Wireless Provider

AT&T RANKS HIGHEST IN CUSTOMER CARE BY JD POWER

Well it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks that AT&T service is the best. I've been a customer on-and-off for the past 25 years or so, through all of the mergers and breakups. And I've been a recent customer since 2007. And I've been completely satisfied ever since.

On August 1st, J.D. Power released a study stating that customers ranked AT&T as #1 in customer service. That covers retail sales stores, online services, and online call centers. The results of the study were based on 18,000 participants.

Of all the communications giants, I have had the absolute best service from AT&T. Considering their size, they don't really have to make the effort to treat their customers like human beings. But they do. I have yet to have one negative experience in six years, since switching my cellular service provider.

I was used to horrendously horrible service calls, mixed up billing, and wasting numerous hours to get things straight when something went wrong. My worst experience was spending 6 months to correct a faulty bill that had over $1,300 in incorrect charges.

Each time I would make a call, I would get referred to a manager. Somehow, the records of previous conversations would "disappear", and I would have to spend 30 minutes (or more) re-explaining the situation, and showing proof on my wireless bills. I was even met with irate customer service representatives at times. It was a nightmare.

Another large internet supplier that I have dealt with over the years gave me a similar frustrating experience, but in a different way. There was a major communication problem between the provider and the contracted field techs that carried out the service calls.

On numerous occasions, service techs would arrive at my house and wonder why I was being information that was contrary to what they were told. And service calls would take as long as 3 weeks to be taken care of after the point of the initial call for help.

Not the case with AT&T. At any time that I have had challenges, I have been greeted with the best customer service possible. And the reps not only take great notes that are posted to my account to help the next rep understand the issue at hand, but they even follow up a couple of days later to make sure the issue was resolved to my complete satisfaction.

Keep up the good work AT&T, and I'll be glad to spend my hard-earned money on you for years to come.

Carlton Flowers
Satisfied AT&T Customer :-)

 

How To Make Money With A Blog - My Secret Source!

HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG THE EASY WAY

One of the biggest struggles people have who are active bloggers is finding the best way to monetize the traffic that it generates.

If you have an active blog and you just haven't found the best way to generate money from your work, I'm about to reveal the best source that I've found to date that pays out the largest margins for affiliate orders... and it's super easy to implement. Read this carefully, and take action!

People often ask me, "how can I make money with my blog site?" I've gotten so many inquiries about this recently that it is necessary for me to write this article to explain the details in full.

I've been blogging for over 5 years, and I've tried several methods. I had great success with Amazon for a period of time, making as much as $500 per month. But the percentage paid for referral traffic is low, from 4% to 7%. But my new source is even easier to use, and pays much better.

The source I am using pays a considerable amount of money when people click through and purchase the specials listed on my rotating banner, and the best part about this company is the fact that they give extreme discounts on brand-name merchandise that is in high demand.

The company that I now use in place of Amazon.com is called Moolala. Visitors to your blog site receive anywhere from 50% to 90% off the price of merchandise offered in stores and online, and they can only get these deals through this referral source.

The deals listed on the Moolala website are normally time-sensitive, ranging from 1 day to a week or more. This gives visitors a sense of urgency to purchase. Once the deals are gone, the deep discount disappears. It is very similar in nature to Groupon, but you get paid well to refer the participants.

For example, there was a recent deal on a smartphone/iPod external charging pack that retails for $40. It was offered for $8 on Moolala, and the referring affiliates were paid $3 for every purchase they brought. That's an unheard of 37.5% comission paid on the already deeply discounted purchase price. That's unheard of in the world of affiliate marketing.

There's an added bonus to the Moolala discount service. You can build your own affiliate matrix and earn income up to 4 levels of depth for others who take advantage of the affiliate program. This could turn into serious income for your blog site.

There are affiliates earning several hundred to several thousand dollars per month using this monetization source. That is significant. The most important thing you can do when you build a blog site that is generating traffic is to connect it with the most profitable source for converting that traffic into money.

Moolala is fairly new, and it is growing. The tools they provide are being enhanced to help you earn money. All you need to do is copy and paste HTML code to add banners to your blog site, and you are done. Plus they offer excellent support to help you with the technical aspects of adding banners to your site.

My best advice to those who want to earn money blogging is to focus on putting out quality content on the topics within your niche and build your readership. This way, you don't come accross as a "spammy" site attempting to take advantage of visitors.

If you create the best content and focus on building your audience, people will passively click on the banners provided by Moolala on their own accord. That's the easiest and least aggressive way to turn your efforts into recurring income.

Click on the banner below and you will be forwarded to the Moolala site where you can watch an introductory video that will give you all the details. I invite you to join my matrix now, and start earning with Moolala. I'm confident that it will be as good for you as it has been for me!

Carlton Flowers
Blogging Strategist

Click the banner now, and get started today!

Moolala Banner

 

Samsung Galaxy S4 Ear Speaker Failure Issue

SOLVED: GALAXY S4 DEAD EAR SPEAKER IS HARDWARE ISSUE

I'm the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone via AT&T. I bought the phone on my upgrade in mid May of 2013. About two months in, I noticed that the ear speaker quit working all of the sudden.

During a phone call, I was talking to a friend, but was not hearing anything back. At first, I blamed it on his phone. He kept calling me back after I would tell him to check his phone, but I realized it was on my end after receiving a different call with no sound.

My first thought was that the phone must have been tricked into thinking that the headphones were still connected. I was using the original Samsung earplug headphones with the speaker, and a very nice pair of Sony over-the-ear speakers for listening to music.

But when removing the headphones, I was still getting the notification on the screen that the headphones were in fact unplugged from the device. That eliminated my theory that something was stck in the headphone jack making the device think it was still plugged in, thus turning off the ear speaker.

I did a lot of research online and didn't find much. I only found one instance of a user with the same problem. He was told to try a hard reset to hopefully fix the issue, but that did not work.

I contacted AT&T and Samsung and reported the problem, and was told by both that they had not heard of such an issue from any other users. That pretty much told me that this must have been a random device failure.

I had not ever dropped the phone, and had used it gently over the past two months. I was afraid that the hard reset wouldn't solve the problem, which it didn't. If you experience this problem, it's definitely a hardware failure issue and not something that can be solved by resetting the operating system.

Sadly, I was going to have to order a warranty replacement and have another Galaxy S4 shipped to me. I dreaded the amount of time it would take to complete the process and receive my replacement phone, but I called in on a Monday to at least get it started early in the week.

To my surprise, I got a notification that the replacement device order was processed by the afternoon, and had actually shipped out. The new Galaxy S4 replacement phone was shipped via FedEx and sitting on my doorstep sometime during the day on Wednesday.

I was very pleased with the rapid turnaround time, and was back in business. The customer service given by AT&T and Samsung were both top notch. The AT&T representatives "felt my pain" and were very sympathetic, and that always helps!

Hats off to AT&T and Samsung for making the most out of this situation and taking care of the problem!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Addict