Archive for January 9, 2018

WAFR – The World’s Most Innovative, Smallest & Slimmest Wireless Power Bank & Charger

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show will present the launch of WAFR (http://www.WAFRtech.com) – the world’s smallest and slimmest wireless Power bank and AC charger.  Compatible with all iPhones and Android devices, WAFR uses patented Nano SD technology and interchangeable AC plug modules to charge users phones anywhere in the world.

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WAFR is ultra-slim (7mm) design with a 2500mah ~4500mah qi wireless Power bank backup battery that fits in a user’s shirt pocket, to power up their phone no matter where they are in the world or what phone they use.
The world’s Smallest & slimmest charger combines elegant design and premium quality to offer the first all-in-one international charging solution. WAFR uses patented Nano SD technology and fold flat interchangeable AC plug modules for America or Europe, UK or Asia even Australia and Africa AC Plug modules to power up your phone no matter where you are in the world or what phone you use.

Technical Specifications

Power bank lithium polymer battery
Universal Charger
Qi Wireless Charging
Fast Charging
Magnetic Attachment
AC Plug Modules
Apple and Android Compatible

To learn more about WAFR, please visit – http://www.WAFRtech.com

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5 Tech Trends Influencing SMB & ENT Businesses in 2018: SAP Concur

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

With 2018 here, here are a few insights from executives at global travel and spend management company, SAP Concur, on what technology trends will shape businesses big and small and impact employees most in the new year. Here are the topline trends:

  • The sophistication of small business. Historically, enterprise tools have been too costly for small businesses but in 2018, small businesses will adopt cloud-based enterprise tools at a faster pace to enhance business functions.

Historically, enterprise tools have come with an enterprise cost, effectively pricing out many technologies for small businesses. Not anymore. The rise of the cloud has leveled the playing field by ushering in a world of web-based apps that are cost-effective for small businesses to deploy as they position themselves for rapid growth. In the coming year, small businesses will adopt cloud-based enterprise tools at a faster pace to enhance business functions. For example, we expect technology will help small businesses tackle traditional functions such as corporate travel management as well as take advantage of emerging technologies like chatbots. We will also see small businesses prioritize enterprise tools that are built to scale, poising them for growth while growing alongside them. – Christal Bemont, SVP and GM of the Small, Midsized and Nationals Business Unit, SAP Concur

  • Preferences, predictive analytics, and personalization will change everything, including business travel.

“Technology is surpassing business travellers where they are and forecasting their next move. Predictive analytics will transform the traveller experience by anticipating, recommending and booking optimal travel itineraries based on past experiences, calendars, user profiles and preferred loyalty programs. Advanced technologies will take personalized travel experiences even further with customized room temperature, amenities and entertainment preferences ready upon arrival. On top of that, virtual concierges will offer 24/7 assistance to book dinner reservations, reschedule meeting spaces and request rides.”– John Dietz, Vice President, Concur Labs, SAP Concur

  • Conventional expense reports are no more as businesses embrace paperless processes and a greater breadth of payment and reimbursement options.

As advanced technologies become further integrated into travel and spend management software, expense reporting will automatically happen in the background and save employees time to focus on business priorities. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and scanning recognition technologies will continue to eliminate manual expense reporting tasks, while paper receipts will become obsolete with the standardization of e-receipts and countries like France, Spain, China and Japan deregulating paper receipt documentation and validation. Machine learning and automation advancements will also make it easier to spot patterns across data, leading to a decline in expense fraud. In tandem, non-traditional payment technologies like Blockchain and vCards will fundamentally change the way transactions and reimbursements are handled, becoming the new norm for managed travel programs. – Hendrik Vordenbaeumen, Vice President of Product Management, SAP Concur

  • Business traveller safety to remain a C-suite level priority, and turn to analytics to solve it.

In light of recent events and natural disasters, business traveller safety is a growing concern. When employees are traveling, the business is responsible for their well-being and safety, and yet GBTA found that nearly one in three travel managers do not know how long it would take their company to confirm the safety of every employee after an incident. This is a c-level responsibility and executives need to be assured their company can reach and account for their travellers during emergencies. In the year ahead, we expect duty of care to remain at the top of c-level priorities. Businesses will continue scrutinizing their data, systems, processes and procedures to determine how they can improve their ability to locate and communicate with their employees when the unfortunate occurs. Mike Eberhard, President, SAP Concur

  • Invisible employee spending becomes visible (and manageable) with data

Employees are gaining more access to and will spend more of corporate funds across more spend categories using more payment methods than ever before. This trend is poised to heat up as even more GenZ workers hit the workforce and are paying more supplier invoices directly with company checks; booking and managing travel directly on their mobile devices; and using corporate, ghost, virtual, or even personal cards for just about everything.  This employee-initiated spend has fast become the largest unmanaged spend category in almost every company’s financial program largely due to the fact that there’s minimal or no forethought or oversight from finance and procurement managers into this spending. It doesn’t have to be this way. The technologies available to automate and track this spending have caught up with technologies used to spend the money. The future is here. With a better understanding of where employee spend is really happening and the categories it comes from, finance and procurement managers can develop a strategy to better manage it proactively and ultimately save money. – Guy La Corte, GM of Americas Enterprise Business, SAP Concur

Find out more about SAP Concur here.

VIFA Launches New Multi Room Speakers COPENHAGEN 2.0 AND STOCKHOLM 2.0

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

Vifa HOME is a whole new way of connecting loudspeakers, allowing you to distribute music to different loudspeakers in different areas of your home. Rich in features and strong in simplicity of use, Vifa HOME is a state-of-the art service developed by the hearts and brains behind the globally renowned loudspeaker manufacturer Vifa.

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On your Vifa loudspeaker, whether Copenhagen or Stockholm in the 2.0 versions, from now on you’ll nd a Vifa®LINK button that helps you interconnect your loudspeakers with one discreet click. Likewise, you’ll nd the Vifa PLAY button giving you immediate access to your favorite music/radio stations. This way playing your music or listening to your favorite radio channel and sharing it across every corner of your home suddenly becomes child’s play.

 

OPERATED BY APP

If you prefer, your settings, streaming, and linking within the new Vifa HOME universe can also be managed through the Vifa HOME app. This free app permits an instant overview of music in your home. You can manage your favorite streaming service: Spotify, QQ Music, or TuneIn. You can group your Vifa loudspeakers, right there from your screen. Unbelievably simple and surprisingly smooth, you’re always in control of setting the proper ambiance in any room – right from your phone.

And, if you wish for extended freedom of use, the Vifa HOME multi-source approach gives you the opportunity to design a personal set-up with your TV, smartphone, tablet, USB stick, music server, etc.

NORDIC KNOW-HOW

The Vifa HOME functionality is introduced as new features on the Vifa brands’ most pop- ular models, the ultra-performing Copenhagen and the timeless classic, Stockholm. Both loudspeakers are part of the amazing range of loudspeakers launched by Vifa over the past four years, loudspeakers acclaimed in reviews and by users worldwide for their timeless Nordic design and outstanding authentic sound quality. To complete the excitement around the new launch, the 2.0 versions of both Copenhagen and Stockholm will be available in the clean colors “Mountain Blue” and “Pine Green” – two shades that already embellish the Oslo loudspeaker. . The textile cover is eco-friendly produced high-quality wool from Kvadrat, Europe’s leading manufacturer of design textiles.

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

The launch of Vifa HOME is a logical extension of the Vifa brand. It continues to build on the solid experience and proud craftsmanship of the Vifa brand that has its roots back in the early 1930’s when the company was founded. The striving for exquisite quality and superior technological know-how has been dusted off in recent years, where a stronger focus on product design and Nordic elegance has been added to the Vifa products – without compromising on the authentic sound which has been a core value of the brand throughout the years.

DISTRIBUTION AND PRICE

Vifa HOME is available at www.vifa.dk and through selected dealers Recommended retail price: Copenhagen 2.0: 799 USD / Stockholm 2.0: 1499 USD (incl. sales tax)

Nikon Canada Announces New 180-400mm Super Telephoto Zoom Lens

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

Today, Nikon Canada announced the new AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR super-telephoto zoom lens, which is ideally suited for photographing sports and wildlife with astounding speed and clarity. This professional level FX-format lens is more versatile than ever, and has been updated with the newest NIKKOR lens technologies including Nikon’s first ever built-in teleconverter and an advanced optical formula to enhance performance and reduce weight.

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The AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR is a professional super-telephoto zoom lens which is even more versatile with an extended wide range of 180-400mm, and a constant f/4 aperture to easily isolate a subject from the sidelines, even in challenging light. This is also the first NIKKOR lens to include a built-in 1.4X teleconverter, allowing photographers to seamlessly swap to a 252mm-560mm (FX-format) focal range. The teleconverter is engaged at the flick of a switch, and is easily operated with a single finger while looking through the viewfinder. When used on the Nikon D500 and other DX-format DSLRs, the focal length is the equivalent of 270mm-600mm, (378mm-840mm with the teleconverter engaged).

Whether capturing fast-moving winter sports on the slopes or elusive wildlife at a distance, photographers can shoot with confidence from this high performance NIKKOR lens. The new AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR is optimized for high-speed capture, and features an electromagnetic diaphragm, helping to create smooth and consistent exposures while shooting high-speed bursts of images. What’s more, the AF tracking algorithm controlling the motor drive has been enhanced to increase tracking performance of fast moving subjects. When using cameras equipped with Nikon’s advanced 153-point AF system (D5, D500, D850), the outer row of AF points are activated as cross-type sensors to significantly enhance the AF coverage throughout the frame(2).

The lens now uses a fluorite element, which contributes to improved balance while minimizing weight. To further enhance handling and agility, the lens has adopted a new ball-bearing tripod collar ring to create a seamless transition from shooting horizontal to vertical composition. The VR mechanism offers a normal and sports mode, with up to four stops of compensation to help create sharp images, even when handheld.

The lens construction includes the use of durable magnesium alloy for weight reduction, while the lens is also sealed against dust and moisture. A fluorine coating is also used to help repel water droplets and dirt.

The optical formula of the lens uses eight Extra Low Dispersion (ED) elements, doubling the amount of ED elements used by its predecessor, the NIKKOR 200-400mm. These lenses help to provide extremely sharp and detailed images and 4K video, and are ideally mated to high resolution Nikon DSLR cameras. Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat is used to effectively suppress instances of ghosting and flare.

Price and Availability
The AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR will be available in March 2018 for a manufacturer suggested retail price of $15,549.95.

Microsoft Details Performance Impact of Spectre & Meltdown Mitigations On Windows Systems…. And You Won’t Like Them

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

In case you were wondering how fixes for Spectre and Meltdown will affect you from a speed perspective, Microsoft has done the work for you to find out. Delivering the news is Microsoft’s Windows chief Terry Myerson via this blog post:

With Windows 10 on newer silicon (2016-era PCs with Skylake, Kabylake or newer CPU), benchmarks show single-digit slowdowns, but we don’t expect most users to notice a change because these percentages are reflected in milliseconds.

With Windows 10 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), some benchmarks show more significant slowdowns, and we expect that some users will notice a decrease in system performance. With Windows 8 and Windows 7 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance.

Windows Server on any silicon, especially in any IO-intensive application, shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance. This is why you want to be careful to evaluate the risk of untrusted code for each Windows Server instance, and balance the security versus performance tradeoff for your environment.

For context, on newer CPUs such as on Skylake and beyond, Intel has refined the instructions used to disable branch speculation to be more specific to indirect branches, reducing the overall performance penalty of the Spectre mitigation. Older versions of Windows have a larger performance impact because Windows 7 and Windows 8 have more user-kernel transitions because of legacy design decisions, such as all font rendering taking place in the kernel.

Take home message, if you’re PC is recent, it’s a non-issue. If it’s older, it sucks to be you. And if you’re running Windows Server, well…. You’re taking a hit no matter what CPU you have and it truly sucks to be you. This is one of the reasons why this CPU bug from Intel, AMD, and ARM is a big bloody deal. Because while the security implications are extremely problematic, the cure for them may be worse than the disease.

Microsoft Stops AMD Meltdown Patches After Reports Of Bricked PCs Come In

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

PC owners with AMD-powered machines running Windows are finding out that when they apply the patches for the now infamous Meltdown CPU bug, it is leaving their PCs unable to boot. This has led to a flood of complaints on Microsoft’s support forum which forced Microsoft to stop issuing the patches for Meltdown on the AMD platform. Followed by posting this statement on its support page:

Microsoft has reports of customers with some AMD devices getting into an unbootable state after installing recent Windows operating system security updates. After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown.

That kind of sounds like they’re blaming AMD. Not that AMD users who have bricked PCs care as all they want is a fix. I assume AMD and the folks in Redmond are working on this and hopefully a fix will come sooner rather than later.

My Wife’s Experience Getting The Battery In Her iPhone 6 Replaced By Apple

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 9, 2018 by itnerd

When the news of what I now call “Batterygate” broke, my wife couldn’t care less. But seeing as her iPhone 6 is three years old, I encouraged her to get the battery replaced. So she grudgingly made an appointment with an Apple Genius at the Apple Store that was closest to us. But things got real for her last week in terms of this battery replacement:

  1. Her battery life really became an issue as she started to complain that she could not get the phone to last a business day without having to recharge it.
  2. In the extremely cold weather that we’ve had lately, the phone would randomly shut off.

I decided to investigate this further. Thus I used an application called Coconut Battery to see what her battery looked like. Here was the result:

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Now the first thing to focus on is the “Design Capacity” which in this case is 1810 mAh. However, it was only at 85.3% of that number. Meaning that it holds 85.3% of the charge that it is designed to. That’s not good, but not critical. The second number to focus on is the “Cycle Count” which is how many times it has been recharged. Apple says iPhone batteries are designed to retain up to 80 percent of their original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. So that means that based on the cycle count alone that this battery was due for replacement.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. My wife and I arrived at 11:15 AM for her genius bar appointment. What was interesting is that the person who’s job it was to check us in did everything possible not to check us in before 11:30 AM. That we found weird, so she insisted on being checked in and the person who’s job it was to to check us in showed us to a seat, but not before asking again if she wanted to come back. She said no and he finally left. We both continued to find that weird.

Two minutes later the Apple Genius introduced himself. Then after getting an explanation of the problem he looked at the phone and said that she ran too many apps in the background and that was causing her battery to die early. The problem with that is that he was either unaware that this is inaccurate as per senior management at Apple or he was lying.

I’m going to go with lying for reasons that will become clear in a minute.

He then claimed the reason that her phone was randomly shutting down was due to the extreme cold and that all phones do that. That’s when she did two things. One she pointed out that she and I went skating in this cold and her phone shut down and mine didn’t. Second, she showed the results of the Coconut Battery test. His response was that Coconut Battery isn’t a “legitimate test”. He then claimed that the battery had 90% life left using Apple’s diagnostics software. Here’s the problem with those statements. Those numbers are pulled by Coconut Battery directly from the iPhone itself. So while I respect the fact that Apple has its own diagnostics that they rely on, Coconut Battery works the same way. Thus I have to wonder if the Apple diagnostics are “padded” in some way to make batteries look healthier than they really were.

After my wife pushed back on that, the Genius then figured that the gig was up and said “You’re free to have the battery replaced at a cost of $35 plus tax as it is your right. It will take four hours to do and it likely won’t solve all your problems.” He said it in a way that came across as sounding like this was his last shot of talking us out of getting the battery swapped. After she said yes, that’s when he went about doing what he needed to do to get that done.

Here’s where things got interesting, My wife and witnessed a female Apple Genius use exactly the same phrases and the same arguments to dissuade another person from getting a battery replacement for his iPhone 6. My wife and I looked at each other in amazement because we both came to the same conclusion that it looks like Apple has sent orders from on high to their staff to dissuade customers from getting battery replacements. That’s pretty crafty because if Apple manages to pull that off enough times, they’ll save a few bucks. Plus it pretty much proves that the Apple Genius we spoke to was lying.

Not cool Apple. Not cool.

Back to my wife. She signed off the paperwork and then went through withdrawal for four hours until she got the phone back. Here’s what’s interesting. It now lasts an entire business day and when we spent several hours cross country skiing on this past Sunday in minus 10 Celsius weather (minus 18 with windchill), it never shut down. Not once. Plus my wife felt that the phone was faster. Thus the battery swap at least thus far has worked.

So, our advice to you is that if you have an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, or 6S Plus, I would test it with Coconut Battery and see if you need a replacement. If you are close to or over the numbers that Apple themselves put out, replace the battery. If it’s over two years old, you might want to consider replacing the battery regardless. And don’t take no for an answer as it seems that Apple at least based on a sample size of two is actively trying to dissuade people from getting battery replacements. Which is unfortunate as it really makes that apology that they made kind of meaningless if this sort of behavior is going on in Apple Stores everywhere.

UPDATE: My wife pointed out the most important thing to do which is to make a Genius Bar appointment and do not simply walk into the Apple Store expecting to get face time with an Apple Genius. There are insanely long lines to see an Apple Genius because of “batterygate”. Thus making an appointment is your best bet.