Archive for November 18, 2021

Nikon Announces The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 For The Nikon Z Mount System

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Nikon Canada Inc. is pleased to announce the release of the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8, a compact and lightweight prime lens for Nikon Z series cameras. This fast aperture wide-angle lens is small enough to carry anywhere, and is ideal for everyday snapshots, group portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, and more. With a total length of approximately 43mm and a weight of roughly 155g, this lens is the smallest and lightest among NIKKOR Z prime lenses. The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 is also a great lens for close-up photography, with a minimum focus distance of just 0.19 m, making it simple to capture detailed photos and videos of food, DIY crafts, fashion and more. Because it is also extremely compact, affordable and versatile, this new lens will appeal to both full-frame and DX-format Nikon Z series mirrorless users. 

Primary features

  • The smallest and lightest body among NIKKOR Z prime lenses, with a length of approx. 1.6 in / 43mm and weight of approx. 5.5oz /155 g.
  • The fast f/2.8 maximum aperture allows for a shallow depth of field with pleasing bokeh as well as great low-light capability, even during hand-held shooting.
  • When mounted on a DX-format camera such as the Nikon Z fc or Z 50, the focal length becomes a natural 42 mm (equivalent to 35mm [135] format). 
  • A minimum focus distance of 0.19 m allows users to get close to their subjects for dynamic photography.
  • Adoption of a multi-focusing system realizes natural rendering across the entire shooting range, as well as fast and accurate AF control, while maintaining a smaller body size. 
  • Designed with consideration of dust- and drip-resistant performance so that it can be taken anywhere with greater confidence.
  • Functions such as aperture and exposure compensation can be assigned to the control ring.
  • Developed with consideration for video recording with extremely quiet operation, effective focus-breathing compensation, and stable exposure.
  • The lens differs cosmetically from the Z NIKKOR 28mm SE with a modern black finish. 

The new Z NIKKOR 28mm f/2.8 lens will available in December for a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $379.00. For more information about the latest Nikon products, including other NIKKOR Z lenses and the entire collection of Nikon Z series cameras, please visit www.nikon.ca.

Review: Apple AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

I briefly tried the AirPods Pro when they first came out in 2019. At the time I thought the noise cancelling was amazing. But the sound quality was average at best. I then forgot about them and went on with my life.

Fast forward to 2021. I have in my possession these new AirPods Pro which Apple has quietly updated to include a MagSafe compatible case. Are they any better? Let’s find out by unboxing them.

On the right hand side there’s a pull tab that will help you to get rid of the plastic wrap which will be in a landfill site shortly after its removal because Apple still insists on using plastic wrap on the majority of it’s products despite making a big deal of not including plastic wrap on the iPhone 13 to save the planet. Once you remove the plastic wrap and remove the top of the box, you will see this:

You get documentation that you won’t read and no Apple Stickers. Lift those out of the way and you will see this:

There are your new AirPods Pro. It’s wrapped up in a paper like packaging. There’s more underneath this:

You get extra ear tips (Small and large ones. Medium ones are pre-installed) and a Lightning to USB-C cable. Now here’s your AirPods Pro:

Here is your pair of AirPods Pro. And you can have any color as long as it’s white. Unless you want to go to ColorWare if you’re willing to pay their prices to get a color other than white.

The pairing process is laughably easy.

  1. Open the AirPods Pro case next to your iPhone.
  2. The AirPods Pro will pop up on your phone. Click connect.
  3. Follow the directions.
  4. Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

And what’s really cool is that they automatically pair themselves to your other Apple devices via iCloud. In my case, they popped up instantly on my 16″ MacBook Pro and Apple Watch Series 6 instantly. And to add to the cool factor, simply putting them in your ears and using a device is enough to get connect to that device. For example, I might be using them to listen to music on my iPhone. If I stop listening to music and then start using my MacBook Pro, they will connect at the press of a notification. Going the other way it just connects automatically. While not perfect as I would like to see Apple have the ability to connect to any Apple devices automatically, this switching ability such as it is, is one of the chief reasons why people use these because “it just works” due to the fact that you are in Apple’s ecosystem. Here’s another example of this:

The battery widget on my iPhone 12 Pro shows the battery status from the case and the Airpod Pros.

One of the things that you can do to make sure you get the best audio experience is an an ear tip fit test. To do this you have to go into Bluetooth settings, and then tap on the small “i” icon next to the AirPods. From there, choose ear fit test. This will test whether you should use a different set of ear tips or whether the active noise cancelling is working properly. My advice is to choose the ear tips that feel the most comfortable for you after using them for an hour and then do the ear fit test. Speaking of comfort, I had no issues with comfort. But your mileage might vary on that front.

Controlling the AirPods Pro required me to unlearn some muscle memory as I am used to tapping my way through options in truly wireless earbuds. Apple instead has you squeeze the stems and the haptic feedback click (A.K.A: fake clicking) that they make is very convincing. A single squeeze on the stem will pause or play music, a double squeeze will skip to the next song, and a triple squeeze will skip to the next song. You can switch between noise cancelling, transparency mode, or nothing by long-pressing the stem. You also hear unique tones to indicate that the mode has changed.

You can customize them to do what you need as well. And in my case, here’s what I’ve done starting with the left side:

Followed by the right side:

The AirPods Pro is water-resistant and has an IPX4 rating. That means if you get caught in the rain or you sweat, you’re likely going to be fine. If you submerge them, you’ll likely going to be screwed. The case is a has a Lightning connector, but can be charged via a Qi wireless charger or via the same MagSafe charger that iPhone 12 or 13 users can use. More on that later. But the case is not water resistant or waterproof.

But what you’re likely here for is to find out if the sound quality is top notch. Let’s start with the microphones. I tried them out on some Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls and people at the other end of the connection said that I sounded great. But don’t take my word for it, here’s an audio recording so that you can judge for yourself:

This is simply the best audio in any truly wireless earbuds that I have tested. If you spend your day on calls, the AirPods Pro are a win.

Now that calls are covered. How about listening to music? To test that, I tested the AirPods Pro against a pair of truly wireless earbuds that their marketing material claims to have “next level” active noise cancellation, a transparency mode, and “Big, massive, earth-quaking-window-shaking sound”. In other words, it should be similar in capabilities to the AirPods Pro at a similar price point. I then enlisted the help of a HVAC unit that is loud enough to test the noise cancelling of both products. Finally I used the song “Electric Youth” by Denmark + Winter as that’s a song that runs through the audio spectrum from high to low. The net result that the AirPods Pro comes out ahead. But just ahead. Let me explain:

  • The music sounded about the same, but there seemed to be a bit more bass in the AirPods Pro. Highs, vocals, and mids sounded about the same. Which was clear and crispy. The bass wasn’t overdone or overwhelming, which meant it enhanced the music as opposed to destroying it.
  • The noise cancelling is clearly better on the AirPods Pro. On the other earbuds, they mostly killed the sound of the HVAC unit. The AirPods Pro eliminated the HVAC unit completely.
  • From what I remember about my experience with the AirPods Pro in 2019, these AirPods Pro sound better. I don’t know if that’s due to a firmware update, or if it’s a side effect of the resolution of the AirPods Pro service program where AirPods Pro manufactured before October 2020 had sound issues which Apple had to address, and that’s been carried forward into these. Either way, there’s a difference in sound quality for the better.

One other party trick is spatial audio. Spatial audio is Apple’s version of simulated surround sound; It uses a combination of software algorithms and the accelerometers in your AirPods Pro to place sound cues around you in 3D space. This simulates the immersive experience of sitting in the middle of a full surround sound setup. Currently, spatial audio only works with a handful of apps including Apple TV+ and Disney, for videos encoded for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos. All of this requires iOS 14/iPad OS 14 or higher. It also supports Find My, which means that you can leverage the Find My network and use similar functionality as the AirTags to find your AirPods Pro should you lose them. The last party trick is hands free Siri support in the form of “Hey Siri” along with other Siri functionality where messages can be read and responded to among other things.

In terms of battery life, I managed to get 5 hours, 6 minutes of constant playback with ANC turned on switching back and forth between my iPhone 12 Pro and my 16″ MacBook Pro, which is just above average for most true wireless models. It’s worth mentioning that Apple claims you’ll get about 4 hours and 30 minutes of constant playback with active noise cancelling turned on and the volume turned to about 50%. So this is a win as far as I am concerned. You’ll get 24 hours of listening time when you factor in the case.

In terms of charging, I was able to charge it using Lightning, wirelessly via a Qi wireless charger, and via MagSafe. One cool thing I will note is this:

It sticks to the MagSafe charger. Which means it is likely to be fully charged when you need them as it auto aligns to ensure charging takes place. That wouldn’t be the case with Qi wireless charging.

Cons? Well, these don’t work fully with Android. Not that anyone who buys them cares as the majority of people buying them will be Apple users. They’re also expensive. Which brings truly wireless earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4, Master & Dynamic MW08, and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds into play as while they are all more expensive than the AirPods Pro, they have features and sound quality that may make them good alternatives.

That brings me to the price. In Canada the AirPods Pro With MagSafe Case is $329 CDN. That’s not cheap. But if you check Amazon, they are often on sale there. The bottom line is that Apple who has a reputations for making crappy headphones have a pair of good ones on offer that you should have a look at.

Apple’s Self Repair Program…. Don’t Be Fooled By This Announcement

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday Apple dropped this press release announcing their Self Repair Program. Starting next year in the US (with other countries coming “soon”), Apple will be allowing users to complete their own repairs via a new online store dedicated to parts and tools. It will give customers who are comfortable with the idea of completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and manuals, starting with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups.

The first phase of the program will focus on the iPhone’s most commonly serviced parts, such as the display, battery, and camera, but more kinds of repairs will become available later next year. Apple silicon Macs with the M1 chip, including the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and 24-inch iMac will be next to join the program.

The Self Service Repair program will be facilitated by a new Apple Self Service Repair Online Store, offering more than 200 individual parts and tools to complete ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 13‌ repairs at launch. Customers will first need to consult the repair manual to ensure that they are comfortable performing the repair before they order the part(s) and tools required for the repair.

Now this sounds good on the surface. But Apple isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. In my mind there’s a number of reasons why they are doing this:

  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this year directing the FTC to crack down on companies who fight the option to do self repairs or third party repairs. Which they have vowed to do. Apple who historically have fought the right to repair anywhere and everywhere must have seen the writing on the wall and decided rather than fight, they should craft a response to this that still has them coming out on top. Plus they can roll this out in any place where they are left with no other choice but to comply.
  • The products mentioned are recent products. Which means that there is the possibility that they are covered by AppleCare. That means nobody is going to do their own repairs on these products as it will be free or cheap for the consumer to leverage AppleCare coverage instead of trying to fix it themselves.
  • You can bet your bottom dollar that Apple is going to provide these tools and parts with a hefty markup. And if you try to repair something and you screw up the repair, you can bet your bottom dollar that Apple will charge you an insane amount of money to fix it.
  • While I might be comfortable swapping a MacBook Pro battery, or an iPhone screen, most consumers, as in 90% or more are not. And Apple knows this. Which means that the take up on this is going to be low.
  • Apple can change the optics away from “Apple is against right to repair” to “Apple is open to right to repair” and get some brownie points for doing so.

But there’s one more thing to borrow an Apple phrase to keep in mind. Apple is only doing this with individuals. Not with third party repair shops. Now they have a program for that which has its own pitfalls for the owners of those shops. But this announcement doesn’t improve upon that. I say that because it still forces the average person to the Genius Bar rather than giving them the option to repair their Apple product wherever they want. And that of course also assumes that you want to pay Apple prices for your repair.

The bottom line is that this is an optics exercise for Apple. If they really wanted to embrace right to repair, they would go further than what was announced. But they haven’t. So don’t be fooled by this announcement. It isn’t what you think it is, and it’s not going to get the results that you think it will.

Mujjo Has A Ton Of Discounts On Mujjo.com Just In Time For Black Friday

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Mujjo will have a site wide discount of 25% on mujjo.com which starts from November 21st and runs through November 29th. Just use the code #25off. But that’s not all. There’s a Pre-Black Friday Outlet Sale that has discounts of 30% extra off already discounted outlet items. That’s perfect if you are looking for something for the iPhone 12, 11, or earlier. Just use the code OUTLETBF21 which is valid between November 18th to 22nd. Perfect to get a  Mujjo Full Leather Wallet Case for The iPhone 13 or Mujjo Full Leather Wallet Case for iPhone 12 & 12 Pro or even Mujjo Double-Insulated Touchscreen Gloves.

Check out mujjo.com to see what’s on offer.

Infographic: Google Canada Reveals The Top Black Friday & Cyber Monday Trends Seen From Canadians This Holiday Season

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Canadian shoppers and retailers are preparing for the biggest holiday season yet, with the 2021 holiday season expected to be the biggest do-over celebration of our lifetime. And with Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, Google Canada is revealing the top trending items Canadians are looking for.

Google Canada has a microsite here with more details.

WordPress Sites Are Being Pwned In Fake Ransomware Attacks

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Cybersecurity firm Sucuri has discovered WordPress sites are being hacked in fake ransomware attacks. Researchers discovered the attacks on unencrypted WordPress pages where the threat actor modified an installed WordPress plugin to display a ransom note and countdown. The plugin also modified all WordPress blog posts and set their ‘post_status’ to ‘null’, causing them to go into an unpublished state. Seeing as I am a WordPress user, I am concerned about this. As a result, I’ve taken the advice that Sucuri had provided to protect himself.

 Saumitra Das, CTO and Cofounder of Blue Hexagon had this to say:

 This is an interesting take on “extorting” victims and may succeed for site owners who fear loss of business. Ransomware actors are innovating on extorting rather than encryption given that backup technology and its adoption has improved in the last few years. This is just another example of extortion innovation. Attackers are not just encrypting but naming and shaming the brand, exfiltrating data, threatening executives and users as well.

Eddy Bobritsky, CEO of Minerva Labs also had this to say:

Threat actors always find new and creative ways to commit cyber attacks. Although ransomware was fake here, there is no doubt someone gained hold part of the system, and the end result was almost the same.

Understanding that no one is immune from cyber attacks, and protecting your environment by ransomware prevention tools is crucial, and should be top of mind, before anything starts to happen. Simple actions can be taken and there is technology that was built to prevent the initial steps, before any damage begins. 

I took action to protect myself. Other WordPress users should do the same as protecting yourself is isn’t difficult from what I can tell. And it will not only stop people from being freaked out. It will also stop repetitional damage.

Guest Post: Canadians Use Incognito Mode For Watching Porn Almost As Often As For Checking Health Issues: Nord VPN

Posted in Commentary on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Digital privacy expert shares 4 tips on how Canadians can elevate their private browsing 

A new survey by the leading virtual private network provider NordVPN revealed that Canadians mostly use Incognito mode (private browsing) for checking health issues (39%), watching porn (34%), and shopping for gifts (30%). 

Besides that, they seek privacy while booking a trip (25%) or visiting dating sites (19%). But is it as private as they think? 

What does incognito mode do?

Incognito or private mode helps you browse the web without storing browsing data on your browser so that it can’t be retrieved later. This means that your searches, visited pages, login details, and cookies will not be saved on the device after you close your private windows. However, any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept.

“Private browsing can also be used for booking flight tickets or hotel rooms because they might get you lower prices. Because they don’t save cookies, the airline or hotel website might not know that you checked your chosen dates before and hike up their prices accordingly,” explains Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN. 

Incognito mode: you are not as private as you think

Incognito means to hide your true identity, but that’s not completely true for private browsing modes. Even though private browsing deletes cookies when you close the window and keeps your browsing history empty, it does not hide your traffic from third parties like your ISP, the government, or your network admin at your office or university.

“That private browser mode, or incognito mode, you use to browse the net privately doesn’t make you as private as you think. Your private browsing mode only blocks your own browser from recording your traffic, but it doesn’t hide your IP. Someone can still track you,” Daniel Markuson adds.

How can Canadians increase their privacy?

Daniel Markuson recommends several ways to minimize your digital footprint:

  • Use a VPN such as NordVPN. It does what incognito mode cannot. It hides your IP address and replaces it with the address of a remote VPN server, making it impossible to track you. It also encrypts your traffic, protecting your browsing habits from your ISP and other third parties.
  • Use privacy-oriented browsers, such as Tor or Epic, which deliver on their promise of “extreme privacy”: no auto-syncing, no spell-check, no auto-fill, and no plug-ins.
  • Ditch Google for more private search engines, such as DuckDuckGo. This search engine is a popular choice and serves around 10 million searches a day. However, even though it’s a great tool to limit tracking, it doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity.
  • Use a proxy. Some internet users might choose to route their traffic through a proxy. Proxy servers can help you access geo-restricted websites and hide your browsing activity from the ISP. However, proxies don’t encrypt your traffic, leaving you vulnerable to other attacks and forms of monitoring.

Simply Easier Payments Expands Partnership With NowCerts Insurance Management System

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 18, 2021 by itnerd

Simply Easier Payments,  an easy no-cost payment solution partner for insurance and other industries accepting mobile or online payments, is extending its partnership with popular insurance agency management system NowCerts to offer customers free integration and easy no-cost payment solutions.

After a successful first year working together, Simply Easier Payments will continue to offer full integration to insurance agencies that use NowCerts, which allows their customers to easily accept online payments using ACH or credit card.

NowCerts is known for its agency management system, designed using an innovative process that creates an intuitive operation and efficient workflow. Simply Easier Payments has taken a similar approach to create its one-stop, no-cost payment solution for insurance agencies to accept mobile and online payments.

Founded in 2006, Simply Easier Payments is a leading no-cost total payment solution partner for insurance and other industries accepting mobile or online payments. Providing a one-stop credit card payment processing solution designed especially for insurance agencies, brokers and carriers, it offers a hassle-free experience without the high fees other providers charge, and it’s 100 percent compliant in all 50 states in the U.S. For more than a decade, Simply Easier Payments has provided secure, compliant and reliable payment solutions to thousands of businesses around the nation. Since its inception, reliability and affordability have been the cornerstone principles for delivering real, working solutions to its customers.  To learn more, visit: https://www.simplyeasier.com