Archive for March, 2017

PSA: Today Is The Last Day To Get Discounted USB-C Accessories From Apple If You’re Living The #DongleLife

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

Since early November when the costs of USB-C accessories sparked outrage online, Apple has been discounting all of its USB-C adapters and accessories, including the 4K and 5K LG UltraFine displays. This was being done to allegedly ease the transition from USB-A to USB-C for new MacBook Pro owners. The thing is that after an extension, those discounts expire today. Which means I guess that Apple feels that from tomorrow onward, there’s no longer a need to ease people into the world of USB-C, or they just want to recoup the cash that they lost by offering these discounts. Either reason is plausible. Thus, if you are living the dongle life and you need to grab some USB-C accessories, head to your local Apple Store ASAP or order online today.

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“Exited?” Would Like Access To Twitter Accounts…. WTF Is This?

Posted in Tips with tags on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

This morning, I had this pop up on the screen of my iPhone 7 Plus:

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I had no idea what this was and there was zero chance I was going to grant access to an application that I didn’t recognize as that’s a excellent way to get pwned by hackers. Thus I clicked “Don’t Allow.” But that got me nowhere as no matter how many times I clicked “Don’t Allow”, the prompt came back.  Thus I was ultimately forced to reboot the iPhone to get rid of this prompt.

My concern was that I had some sort of malware lurking around my phone. So to cover myself, I did two things that I found by searching around the Internet for solutions to this problem, and a third that falls under the category of “just in case.” The first thing that I did comes via this Apple Discussion Boards post:

  1. Close Safari completely from the multitasking window by double clicking the Home button and swiping up the Safari preview pane until it disappears from the screen.
  2. Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.
  3. Do a forced restart of the iPhone.

It made sense to do this as I was thinking that maybe I had picked up some drive by malware via browsing the web that was responsible for this. Thus this would clear it up.

The second thing that I did came from this Reddit post:

  1. Turn off all notifications for Twitter in iOS’s settings app.
  2. Completely uninstall Twitter.
  3. Sign out of iOS’s Twitter in the Settings app.
  4. Reinstall Twitter.
  5. When you open Twitter, it’ll ask for notification permission. Grant it.

Doing this makes sense as it clears the Twitter app and the data along with it and resets all the permissions too. Now the Reddit post references jailbreaking. I do not jailbreak my phones as that’s another great way to get pwned by hackers. Thus whatever this issue is, it affects non-jailbroken devices as well.

Finally, as an security precaution, I will be changing the password to my Twitter accounts. That way if I have been somehow pwned, at least I will maintain control of my Twitter account.

It still leaves me with this question. What is this “exited?” app and why does it want access to my Twitter accounts? Is this perhaps a bug related to the Twitter app that’s been around for a while (some web results on this go back to 2012), or is it something more sinister? I’d love to know the answer to that question. If you have any feedback on this, please leave a comment below. In the meantime, I will be watching my iPhone carefully to see if this comes back.

Today Is World Backup Day….. Which Means You Should Think About Backing Up Your Data

Posted in Tips with tags on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

You value your data. Right? Of course you do. But do you actually have a strategy to back it up and keep it safe? I’m guessing not. Today is a good day to come up with a strategy as it is World Backup Day which is a day to remind you that having a good backup strategy is a great idea 365 days a year. If you don’t presently have a back up strategy, you might want to click the link as it will give you all sorts of reasons why you should and discounts to online backup services. If that isn’t enough, I’ll toss in my two articles on the subject as I am a big believer in making sure you have a backup strategy.

Globe & Mail Discusses Bell & Rogers Rollouts Of Gigabit Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

There’s an interesting article in The Globe & Mail today that talks about the rollout of Gigabit Internet in Canada and the costs and challenges associated with that rollout for Bell and Rogers. Here’s a snippet of what I am talking about:

“Rogers has completed its upgrade to the next generation of cable technology (known as DOCSIS 3.1) and said Thursday that between itself and BCE, the city of Toronto is now covered by gigabit Internet services.”

“It costs cable companies such as Rogers and Videotron Ltd., which is BCE’s biggest competitor in Quebec, about $250 to $300 a home to upgrade their networks and provide gigabit speeds, according to an estimate by Desjardins Securities Inc. analyst Maher Yaghi. In contrast, he estimates it costs BCE from $1,000 to $1,500 a home to make its fibre-to-the-home upgrades.

However, in both Toronto and Montreal, BCE is making use of aerial options – such as hydro poles – to string its cables, which is cheaper than building underground. Barclay’s Capital analyst Phillip Huang estimates it costs about $400 to $700 to connect homes using aerial infrastructure. He said that while 60 per cent of the build in Toronto had to be done through buried infrastructure, it will only be about 10 per cent in Montreal.”

This explains to some degree why Rogers and Bell have been engaged in battle to grab as many users as possible. They have to recoup the costs of this rollout somehow. I suspect that this will escalate over the next few months. That means that users will win because prices for Gigabit Internet will drop because of the competition between the two. If you’re in the market for Gigabit Internet, see if both Bell and Rogers can service your area with that service. If they can, I can say from personal experience that you’ll have leverage over both to get the best deal that you can. Especially if you bundle your services.

MAGFAST Family Of Chargers Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 30, 2017 by itnerd

MAGFAST has announced the launch of MAGFAST Family, the world’s first complete system of chargers that work beautifully together to eliminate messy charging cables, thanks to world-class design, and the power of magnets.

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Each individual MAGFAST charger works brilliantly on its own, charging any modern mobile device. MAGFAST power banks are feature-rich with a self-storing and replaceable built-in-cable, traditional USB-A and new USB-C outlets as well as Wireless charging. Together that’s four ways of charging, where most products offer only one.

The real competitive difference is in the patent pending MAGFAST connection that quickly and magnetically connects any two or more components together for easy and rapid charging without wires.

There’s a MAGFAST Family member for every charging situation:

  • LifeCharger: LifeCharger is a portable powerbank you’ll want to keep with you every day. Easy to keep charged – and to charge any device – it feels great in your hand, yet packs enough power for multiple charges of any smartphone.
  • LifeCharger Extreme: Like LifeCharger, but packing 27,000mAh, the portable LifeCharger Extreme has the maximum power allowed by FAA law, so is still permitted on an aeroplane. Add the optional jumper cables to the MAGFAST Family purchase, and LifeCharger Extreme can jump start your car.
  • RoadCharger: Plugged into your 12v outlet RoadCharger gives 4 USB outlets for family charging, as well as the MAGFAST built-in cable and wireless charging. RoadCharger also banks enough energy for multiple smartphone charges, so you can grab it as you leave the car, and keep powering up.
  • AirCharger: A stylish charging stand for devices that support wireless charging. AirCharger stands on its own on any desktop powered by a USB cable, combines any MAGFAST powerbank or sits neatly atop WallCharger – perfect in the kitchen or office.
  • WallCharger: WallCharger is a stylish upgrade to one of the world’s most popular charger designs. Instead of turning a wall outlet into a nest of wires, WallCharger neatly provides a station for wireless charging of any mobile device, as well as MAGFAST Family chargers.  Interchangeable adapter tips store neatly in the back, and there’s even two USB outlets underneath for those who just can’t give up their wires.
  • TimeCharger for Apple Watch: The best way to charge your Apple Watch. TimeCharger starts as a powerbank with the full MAGFAST Family feature set – then adds a neat hinged charging platform to keep Apple Watch going for up to two weeks.

Designed for both Android and iOS, every charger in the MAGFAST Family can be used independently, or combined with any other, like a child’s building block set.

The complete MAGFAST Family is available for pre-order now at MAGFAST.com, from $49 for individual components and a very special deal for early backers: $297 for the ‘Pro’ Kit comprising a complete family of six MAGFAST chargers with upgrades and accessories (a saving of $328 on retail value).

Review: Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch & iPhone

Posted in Products with tags on March 30, 2017 by itnerd

Now that I have an Apple Watch, I needed a way to keep it charged. Yes it does come with a charge cable, but it’s one more cable that I really don’t want to have. So I relegated it to my travel bag. Instead, I picked up this from the Apple Store:

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Meet the Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch & iPhone which allows you to charge both your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. One of the reasons why I went for this is that besides the fact that this is an all-in-one solution, it has this going for it:

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This dial at the back allows you to lower or raise the Lightning connector. Which means that if you use a case on your iPhone, it will still be able to plug in. This solves the number one complaint that I have with most docks which is that I cannot use most of them with my case on the phone. This is a brilliant idea by Belkin. The phone simply plugs into the Lightning port to charge, though I will note that likely because of the case I am using, plugging in requires some degree of precision. The Apple Watch connects via a magnetic charger. While the magnet is strong enough to hold the Apple Watch in place, I recommend that you use the optional watch band support to make sure that it doesn’t fall off.

From a quality standpoint, this dock feels solid and it’s heavy as well. It also feels like a premium product regardless of where you touch it. There is no question in my mind that this will last over the long term. It comes in silver, rose gold, and black for those who want to match the dock to their phone. Gripes? None. Zip. Zero. Nada. As far as I am concerned, Belkin has hit a home run with this product.

The Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch & iPhone goes for $144.95 CDN which isn’t cheap. But given the quality and the utility that’s on display here, it’s worth every penny as far as I am concerned. Take a look at it if you want an all-in-one charging solution for your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Waterloo University Student Wins Gold At Bloomberg’s International Coding Competition In New York

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2017 by itnerd

Waterloo University took home the gold at Bloomberg’s international coding competition in New York! With a perfect score, Timothy Li, an 18-year-old freshman, received first place against 140 competitors across Canada, the United States and Europe in the Global CodeCon Finals (GCCF), a grueling 2-hour coding challenge.

Bloomberg engineer, Rangan Prabhakaran, created CodeCon in late 2014 as a way to help students improve their coding abilities. Throughout the year, competitions are held at leading universities and the winners are invited to face off in a final round of questions created by Bloomberg software engineers.

Contestants are not made aware of the problems beforehand, and are often surprised by their diverse nature – from working out how to arrange antique statues by height in as fewmoves as possible to writing a program to win at Pokémon Go. Questions were quite challenging, as one question, “Firefighter Tim,” had only a two percent success rate across the 140 finalists.

Given the prestige and competitive nature of the event, Timothy’s last-minute win was highly impressive.

Additional information on the event can also be found here.