1. “The only people who can fix my cell phone are certified technicians.”
No certification is required to operate a cell phone repair shop (with the exception of California, the only state which requires a special license to repair electronics). While “certification” for this industry is only attainable through privately-owned cell phone repair training schools, there are many self-taught technicians in the industry who haven’t attended a single training course. These technicians use their vast resources available to research and learn repairs themselves, instead of traveling and paying several hundred dollars to attend a training school. There are hundreds of great repair shops out there with savvy technicians who aren’t technically “certified,” but could fix your phone without error in no time flat.
On the other hand, there do exist technicians who probably should attend cell phone repair training courses, but this is why we suggest checking online reviews before trusting any repair shop with your device. Online reviews from past customers tell a lot about the service you’ll get from any small business.
2. “If a third-party repair shop fixes my cell phone, it will void the warranty.”
If you have an iPhone or Samsung smartphone with a broken screen or any other accidental damage, the phone’s limited one-year warranty is already voided. Going to a “non-certified” repair shop won’t void your warranty. Service providers will try to convince you to buy a new device instead of repairing it. Repair shops offering post-warranty repairs will always do what they can to fix your device so you don’t have to buy a new one — and 9 times out of 10, repairing your device will be cheaper than replacing it.
3. “It costs too much money to repair my cell phone.”
This is subjective and prices vary based on location, but many people think it’ll cost a fortune to get a wireless device fixed. According to industry data collected in January 2015, the average price to fix the iPhone 6 is $179. Considering how much of your life revolves around your smartphone and how often you use it on a daily basis, it’s a small price to pay to get your favorite device working like new. And once you learn how much your device is actually worth, you’ll realize the repair is definitely worth it.
4. “You want $200 to fix my Galaxy S5?! But I only paid $100 for it!”
This might be the most common misconception about smartphone repair, just because many people don’t know how valuable flagship devices like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy actually are. The subsidized rate you pay when signing a 2-year contract is essentially a down-payment on that device. What seems to be a great deal at first – $199 for a new phone on a 2-year contract – actually costs more over time and greatly skews the perceived value of the phone. Check out our blog and infographic to learn the true value of a smartphone.
5. “My cell phone can’t be fixed.”
Yes it can. Promise.
6. “I can fix this iPhone/iPad/Smartphone myself, no problem!”
You can ask any repair technician his/her biggest pet peeve and we can almost guarantee it’s this: customers will buy cell phone repair parts online, attempt to fix the device themselves, and then show up at his or her local repair shop with a bag full of screws and a half-assembled smartphone. It doesn’t take a genius to repair a smartphone, but rarely does the average consumer realize how time-consuming (and frustrating) these repairs can often be. While we would never stop a determined DIY-er from attempting to repair his or her own cell phone, we must warn you: it looks a lot easier than it actually is. Even if you get it back together with all the pieces in place, if the screen doesn’t turn on, you’re in for a long and painstaking troubleshooting process. Unless you’re highly technical or very confident in your personal abilities, we advise any inexperienced consumer to leave it to the professionals.
7. “Cell phone repair shops are sketchy and the technicians aren’t certified.”
Unfortunately, just like every other industry in the world, there exist dishonest business owners who take advantage of their customers. This can give an industry a bad reputation, but this does not mean the industry as a whole can’t be trusted. The cell phone repair industry is filled with thousands of awesome, trustworthy business owners who love helping other people. 90% of repair shops are independently owned small business repair shops. Since local business thrives on community trust, check out online reviews of your local repair shop to see how they’ve taken care of their customers before. Chances are they’ll take care of you, too.
How to Optimize Your Computer for Gaming
Gaming evolves every day, and you want to be sure your computer is up to the task. Many factors influence your computer’s gaming performance, some upgradable, others not so much. Here’s a rundown of how you can bring out the best in your machine.
The Memory Myth
A common misconception is that more RAM (random access memory) equates to better gaming performance. Installing more RAM helps you run more programs simultaneously and reopens frequently used files faster; it won’t turn a slow PC into a super gaming machine. Multiple benchmark tests at 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB RAM configurations across various computers showed little to no improvement in FPS (frames per second) in some of today’s most popular PC titles, as Tech Buyers Guru explains. RAM speed can, however, make a difference if you’re using integrated graphics like an AMD APU.
The Hard Drive Dilemma
The type of hard drive matters more than storage capacity (which is also important). Solid state drives (SSDs) consume less power and seek and transfer data much faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), according to Best Laptop For Gaming. This means you can play games longer and enjoy faster load times. If you’re on a budget, consider upgrading to a 7200 RPM (revolutions per minute) HDD over slower 5400 RPM models. Faster HDDs consume more power, so be sure to plug in your AC adapter if you go this route. Consider an external hard drive if you need more space to store downloaded games.
Your computer’s CPU (central processing unit) has a huge impact on gaming performance. Most mid-range laptops and desktops use dual core or quad core processors. Fast dual core processors are sufficient to play many games, but more games are moving toward the quad core configuration. If you plan to play the most popular games for years to come, invest in a quad core CPU.
The Graphics Card
Your computer’s video card or GPU (graphics processing unit) is the most important piece of the puzzle. A powerful GPU enables maximum FPS and eliminates lag—the bane of multiplayer games, especially first person shooters. HD (1920×1080 or higher) graphics depend on a brawny GPU. The highest end gaming laptops come with a dedicated GPU and video RAM that can tackle even the most demanding games, albeit at a hefty price tag. Choosing your GPU configuration is crucial from the start, as the chip is soldered to your computer’s motherboard and can’t be removed or replaced.
Some games play better with a mouse, others with a joystick. Choose an ergonomic device to keep your hands comfortable through long periods of gaming. Most accessories offer USB or Bluetooth support. Comfortable headphones or a high-end sound system can enhance your gaming experience, but prepare to pay for quality.
Cleaning Your Computer
A clean computer is a faster computer, and a faster computer is better for gaming. Here are a few tips for making your machine leaner and meaner:
Close unnecessary background programs.
Avoid running too many programs at once.
Run regular virus and spyware scans.
The Tethering Know-how Guide for Newbies
Nearly anywhere you go, it seems like you can get an Internet connection. But you may find yourself in a remote diner, library or a city park, and either have no signal or it’s so faint, that you can’t keep a connection. If your smartphone has a strong signal, then you have another option. Find out from these tips what tethering is and can what it can do for you, and you’ll never be left without a network connection again.
Types of Tethering
Tethering is a way for your computer to tap into the signal used by your smartphone. There are three ways to tether your phone to your computer:USB, Bluetooth and WiFi.
USB tethering allows you to connect one device, laptop or tablet, to your phone. You’ll need a USB cable that connects your phone to the computer. It can be the same cable you use to charge your phone from a USB port. On your computer, you’ll setup the smartphone as a USB modem. Your computer will then connect to your phone as a network device and you should see an Internet connection. Your phone will also charge while it’s connected with the USB cord so there’ll be no drain on your battery.
Bluetooth tethering requires no cable but does require Bluetooth on your computer and smartphone. Android phones have this built in as of version 4.0 of the Android operating system, says Android Authority. PadGadget says that Bluetooth is available as of 4.3 of the iOS operating system on your iPhone or iPad. Any new device with access to mobile Internet from T-Mobile or other carriers will have the Bluetooth option. If you have an older model phone, check the version of the operating system first.
To setup this type of tethering, pair your smartphone to your computer just like you would a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Once the paring is complete, configure the connection type in Bluetooth on your computer as a network connection. The speed will be slower than with USB tethering and the phone’s battery will drain faster unless you keep it plugged in to charge. Only one computer can be connected to your smartphone this way.
WiFi tethering is the most flexible option since it turns your phone into a wireless network. Also called a mobile hotspot, more than one computer may connect to the phone at the same time. This is also the easiest tethering option to set up. You may have an option called Mobile Hotspot on your phone. Enable it and the phone will begin to broadcast a wireless signal, just like a router. You can configure it like a router by designating the SSID and telling it whether to broadcast the SSID or not. If the SSID is broadcasted then everyone around you can see your network and may try to connect to it.
This connection causes a big drain on your smartphone’s battery so you may want to keep your phone plugged in and charging if you’ll be online for a long time. The speed is also faster than Bluetooth but a bit slower than a USB connection.
Restrictions on Tethering
Android Central notes that there are some rules about tethering you need to be aware of. Carriers have placed restrictions on the use of tethering on their devices. It was once simple to connect a computer to a phone, but they used the same data plan. Carriers decided they wanted to be able to charge for each device using a data plan. So each one implements different policies regarding the use of tethering on their devices. Most require additional fees to unlock the tethering capability of your phone. This is especially true of the mobile hotspot option.
In an Internet-dependent nation, the risks of a failed connection, a scrambled upload or a hacked cloud storage account slips into the back regions of daily thoughts and routines. It’s something that happens, but only to other people, right? For you, life goes on without incident. The battery in your car never fails. Your electricity never goes off. And your home data backup system is always up to date. Then, WAM, Yahoo leaks your email password, HP issues warnings of security vulnerabilities in their server monitoring software andDropbox gets hacked via theft of a Dropbox file maintained by a company employee, (according to Iowa’s Information Security office news feed).
The on-the-go mobile cloud user sometimes forgets the reality of Internet-related viruses, data loss and identity theft. Long seasons without complications promote bad security habits. The random bad service connections that briefly hinder Internet transactions become expected and temporary setbacks. Internet users just retry until they are back in the daily grind of:
- Buying online products
- Gaining access into a favorite chat room
- Sending an instant message to a friend
- Dumping non-encrypted online banking details into an iPhone
- OR using cloud storage without regard to practical data management security planning or restrictions.
But one day, perhaps even as you read this article, the convenience of daily computing will crash head-on into the inconvenience of a busted website, a crashed virtual hard drive, or a hacked Dropbox clone and the loss of associated critical personal information.
Protect Your Cloud Storage From Getting Hacked
According to the U.S. Census "2012 Statistical Abstract," between the years 2000 and 2011, the percentage of U.S. adult Internet users climbed by 13.6 percent. The increase between 2011 and 2013 alone essentially makes the U.S. a nation that thrives on daily Internet access. Mobile devices now dominate the wireless communication arena. Remote access to home networks, cloud storage centers and data sharing facilities have become an expected standard. Yet too many users fail to follow reasonable cloud security practices.
Chose your cloud resources carefully. Research Top 10 Cloud Storage’s online storage knowledge base. Review Privacy and TOU documents. Compare security features as well as functional features. Between 2008 and mid-year 2013, FBI convictions for identity theft-related crimes recovered $4.6 billion in loss funds and resulted in $78.6 billion in restitutions, according to FBI.gov. Common Internet-related frauds include non-delivery of ordered merchandise, investment scams, and data theft. You cannot afford to use the Internet or cloud services and cloud storage facilities without knowing how to avoid cloud-related disasters
The cloud is not invincible, but you can increase your protection. These tips, condensed from the cloud storage pages of the Federal Cloud Computing Information division of Cloud CIO, are for you. The focus is on consistent and timely backups and highly encrypted file storage. Also, make sure that your CSP provides the right backup service features.
Critical Backup Service Features
- Login Validation
- The Latest and the Best Encryption For Data Transfers
- Data "Versioning"
- Options for Both Full System and Snapshot Backups
- Clearly Defined and Simplified Management Function
- Automated and Scheduled Backup Functions
- Capacity to Perform Online File Backup
- Multi-platform Support Features That Ensure Easy Portability To a Different CSP
- Simplified Replication and Multi-side Storage Options.
Finally, and as a special note for personal identity protection:
Do not store critical financial data or social security numbers in your computer, on the cloud, or on your private home network. Period.
PC gamers across the world know it’s that time of year when games they’ve been patiently salivating over for the past 10 months are finally being released. Read on for a recap of some of the most popular new-release games that have you champing at the bit.
"Firefall" is a free PC game that you can play right now from Red 5 Studios, a company founded by executives and key developers of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft.
"Firefall" is an online shooter game where you and your buds take on the worst threat to ever come to earth called the Melding. The game is massive in scope and you level up a variety of character classes as you fight to save humanity.
Need for Speed Rivals
Die-hard fans of the "Need for Speed" franchise take heart as the newest edition to the popular franchise is set to hit stores. The game promises to be the best edition yet with stellar graphics and extreme game play.
Players find themselves in some of the most intense competition as they try to outrace the cops in an expansive open road setting. Players can either be a cop or a racer and there are challenges for whichever role you decide to play.
Of course there’s online game play featuring a new innovation called “AllDrive” which allows players to seamlessly go from playing the game alone to playing with friends, blurring the line between single and multiplayer gaming.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
There’s been some differences of opinion about this game as far as how engaging it is. But honestly, how can this game not engage anyone brave enough to sit down and grab a controller?
The vignettes alone force players to pay attention to their screen monitors just to see all that’s happening in front of them.
You’re in the ocean avoiding a great white, you’re in space, you’re driving a tank and you’re flying an apache, so forget about boredom, soldier. You don’t have time to be bored!
Then there’s the online game play. But in this instance, it may be somewhat boring as it’s more of the same that you’ve seen from previous campaigns, but ultimately this isn’t a bad thing, it just would have been nice to see some enhancements here.
The battle between rival games "Call of Duty" and "Battlefield 4" continues to heat up and the ultimate winners in this hard fought battle for military dominance is the gamer.
The "Battlefield 4" download for PC puts the player in a covert U.S. Marine scenario. Your part of an elite unit code-named the “Tombstone Squad” and you’re mission is simple: Sneak into communist China and rescue a key figure.
There are a few improvements that separate "Battlefield 4" from its previous incarnation. The online game play component has been improved upon as gamers experience more ground action and a more dramatic in game experience.
Also new this time is the addition of a new ability to spot enemies with your set of tactical binoculars, giving players the ability to send soldiers to advance and engage enemies spotted this way.
Your old laptop has served you well so far, but it’s getting up there in years and you are starting to eye the latest portable computers. However, finding a new laptop can easily end up an expensive trial-and-error effort, especially if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for. Look to the following tips to guide you along your search for the laptop of your dreams (and budget).
Know Your Categories
Know what you are looking for and what different types of laptops have to offer.
Ultraportables – Often fitted with low-voltage Intel Atom and AMD E-series processors, the 11 to 12-inch ultraportable sports and extraordinarily compact and energy efficient form. These devices offer long battery life, excellent portability and a slim form factor, but at the cost of pure performance, room for future upgrades and a limited number of usable ports.
Ultrabooks – Intel’s Ultrabook specification bridges the gap between the versatile tablet and lightweight ultraportable laptops. These machines offer the touch capabilities of a tablet with the traditional but lightweight form of a slim laptop. Ultrabooks like the $749 Lenovo Ideapad Yoga series can be “converted” into tablets for on-the-go versatility.
Midsize Laptops – Ranging from 14 to 16 inches in screen size, midsize laptops are the sweet spot of laptop computing. Not too big, but not too small, either. These machines are often packed with plenty of popular features, including generously sized hard drives, Blu-ray optical drives and the latest in high-definition LED screens. Prices generally range from as low as $300 for value-oriented models to over $1,500 for models with all of the trimmings.
Desktop Replacements – Ranging from 17 to 20 inches in screen size, these beastly machines are the largest and most powerful of the bunch thanks to their high-end graphics, top-of-the-line quad-core processors, full 1080p screens and generous amounts of RAM. However, you’ll pay a sizable penalty in battery life, weight and general lack of portability, as well as price. Most desktop replacements start at a hefty $1,500 and up.
Windows 8 Reigns Supreme
In spite of all the flack it’s received, Windows 8 is now the standard operating system for many OEMs. According to Microsoft, over 100 million copies of the company’s next-generation OS have been sold, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of the tablet and touchscreen-optimized OS as you shop for your new laptop.
Haswell is the Word
Intel’s fourth-generation Haswell processors launched back in June 2013 and by now, they’re readily available in a broad array of laptops. According to CNet, this new breed of Intel chips offer significant improvements in power consumption, battery life and overall performance, allowing laptops like the 13-inch MacBook Air to boast up to 12 hours of battery life. Fourth-gen Intel Core processors can be identified by the “4xxx” model number.
Onboard Graphics are In
The latest Intel Core processors feature the company’s onboard graphics solution, offering performance that’s on par with many lower-end graphics cards. There’s also AMD’s Radeon HD 4200 Series graphics, often featured with the company’s mainstream processors. Onboard graphics will give you better battery life and enough graphics power to play casual or older games, but it won’t be enough to play demanding PC games like Metro 2022 and Skyrim.
Optical Drives are on the Outs
A growing number of laptops are shedding their optical drives and for good reason. Downloadable media content and the growing storage capabilities of SD cards and other flash-based media serve as viable alternatives to disc-based optical media. As a result, today’s thin lightweight laptops omit them to maintain their sleek form factor and feather weight.
It is impressive to witness the growing video, mobile and PC game explosion. From the increasing hype of the Playstation 4 release to the staggering amount of downloads for mobile and computer games. Unfortunately, free PC game downloads connect with a wide assortment of fake, filler or potentially malicious junk.
Many PC games are completely free, which places into question how these game makers are making money on their software. Manyhidden object games are intensely addictive and interactive, so creators and distributors make income through in-game purchases. Players can purchase upgrades, bonus levels and special content. Free games usually contain ads or sponsors as well.
Another popular method is download attachments. When a user downloads a particular game, they wind up with a variety of junk programs and additions. One popular one is Ask.com, a conversion from the traditional Google search platform. It is a toolbar addition that is not necessarily junk, but not intentionally downloaded. There are three main areas where you can find additional unexpected downloads, ranging from qualified and legitimate software to malicious and virus-intensive junk.
Junk Add-Ons Level 1: The Control Panel
Many PC users know that you can clear out excessive downloads through the control panel and the programs tab. A brief search through your programs will allow you to find out exactly what is on your computer, and what has been recently added. This is a great place to start for clearing out the obvious junk content. One of the most popular is an entire browser. CNet reports there are more than 1,000 active industry browsers, most not being intentionally downloaded. Because Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have dominated the browsing industry, many smaller web browsers are being added to popular PC games, such as Opera for Mac users and the growing Safari browser. Comodo Dragon is a normal web browser, but because it was not in the initial download package it may be considered a junk file.
Junk Add-Ons Level 2: The Browser
Some of the PC game add-ons do not appear in the installed programs area because they are toolbars, extensions and browser additions. These can be accessed through your browser settings. If you visit this section, be sure to deactivate and uninstall any active extensions that are superfluous or junk. To use Chrome as an example, if someone has five active extensions and five open tabs, they have 10 total versions of Chrome running. This causes major slowdown. It is these issues which severely detriment a computer in the long term.
Junk Add-Ons Level 3: The Registry Keys, Cookies, Temporary Files
Many of these PC game junk add-ons do not appear on either the control panel program list or the browser additions. Use WinSettings Pro to clear your computer of excessive junk that often gets built up after a game download. Magic Utilities offers five distinctive removal styles. One targets programs that run on the computer startup. Another is designed to target junk established onto the hard drive.
Softonic reports that Kingsoft Antivirus will scan a game download prior to downloading. This does not always clear the additional add-ons to the video game, but only the game itself. Fortunately, some antivirus designers have incorporated these additional add-ons into the scan of the actual game.
Working from home has multiple advantages — more family time, no commute, higher productivity, as Forbes points out in a recent article. With the benefits apparent, many companies are increasing the number of remote workers they employ. If you are the owner of a company, though, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of these benefits and still manage your business.
Effective management requires collaboration and communication, something current technology makes easy from wherever you are. You need to be able to communicate reliably with your employees, transfer information with ease and do it all securely. Fortunately, you can accomplish most of this for little to no money with these three solutions for remote business management.
Google Plus is known for being second place in the social networking world, but it also offers powerful tools for business collaboration and management. You want to have ongoing access to your employees, and you need to be able to collaborate with different people in your business without a lot of hassle. Google Plus allows you to do this in several ways. Creating a Google Plus account, and having all of your employees do the same, gives you access to all the tools Google offers. Google Docs allows you to share documents between your employees, while Hangouts allows you to instantly create conference calls between members. Google is also adding new features regularly, so the benefits of using the service will only increase. Setting up an account is free and straightforward. You can also set your company accounts into a single group, which Google calls a circle, and make everything exchanged between these accounts private.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may be dealing with large files you need access to at all times. Cloud-based storage is available from multiple companies now, including Dropbox and Google Drive. Both start off free — Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage while Drive offers 5 GB. If you need more, Dropbox offers 100 GB for $9.99 a month, and Google offers 100 GB for $4.99 a month. Google is the winner on price, but Business Insider suggests that Dropbox actually offers more flexibility for your files. Google Drive will only let you open up your files in Google Docs, forcing you to export to access the file in Microsoft Word or another program. Dropbox does not suffer from such limitations.
Virtual Private Network
Depending on what security software you have in place, you may already know about ‘Virtual Private Networks’ (VPNs). According to BlackBerry, its mdm software can be programmed to only allow corporate devices Web access over secure connections. If this is the case, you may already be well versed in VPNs, as your company device will not connect remotely without one. Many mobile users, however, are not familiar with VPNs, or how they help with security. A VPN will keep your communications private when conducting business over public Wi-Fi networks and hot spots. You can work in coffee shops and libraries without worrying about security. It is possible to setup your own VPN, but PC Magazine suggests using a third-party solution if you want to avoid the hassle. Hotspot shield is a favorite of PC Magazine, and offers a free service with ads or a paid service without ads at $29.95 a year. Download and install the software, and rest easy knowing your wireless communications are secured.
Out of the 95.4 million computers sold in the United States in 2011, 16.4 percent are laptops, according to Statistic Brain. With these mobile computers being so useful in work, school and play situations, it’s pretty easy to end up with a few older computers on hand. Instead of throwing them out or selling them, you can put your old laptop to work by upgrading it. You won’t necessarily be able to swap out the motherboard or processor as you would in a desktop, but other components, peripherals and software provide laptops with a second lease on life.
Laptop chassis have many styles, depending on the manufacturer and laptop type. Some computers are incredibly easy to access the hardware components, while others make it more difficult to access the battery, hard drive and memory. Many laptop computers have a majority of their components, such as the processor and graphic cards attached to the motherboard directly, so you won’t be able to upgrade those separately. However, the hard drive and memory are two areas you can upgrade.
If you’re having performance issues, the memory is the best place to start. Memory is also a relatively inexpensive upgrade, but it can provide a significant performance boost. Hard-drive upgrades give you more room for storage, and upgrading hard drive speed also helps improve your computer’s overall performance. It also gives you the space for address software and other essential business utilities.
Several components can cause laptops to overheat, but one of the first things to look for is the cleanliness of your laptop. If the fans are clogged with dust and debris, it makes it hard for the computer to cool down. Canned air gets a great deal of gunk out of the fans, making the system work more efficiently.
Old laptops can also be re-purposed if you don’t need a notebook or you purchased a new one. Gizmodo recommends turning the laptop into a home media center, so you have all of your music, movies and other media in one central location. If your laptop has a media output, connect it to the television to output Netflix, Hulu or another streaming media service.
Love your hard drive, but hate the rest of your laptop? Pull out the hard drive, and stick it in an external drive enclosure. A USB drive enclosure allows you to use the hard drive on other computers, making it useful for backing up personal documents and other important files.
A digital photo frame might not be on your practical purchases list on its own, but you can use photo slideshow software to turn your existing laptop into a slideshow. If the laptop is too old to use for anything else, an added aesthetic touch never hurts.
If you don’t have any use for your laptop, don’t throw it in the trash. Explore local or national donation centers. These places provide laptops to third world countries, poverty-stricken areas and other locations that could use functioning equipment. If you are donating your old laptop, wipe the hard drive of your personal data before you send it off. Most donation centers do this before sending the laptops out, but there’s no guarantee that your computer won’t be missed in the shuffle, says Geek Sugar.