Sandy Bridge Hits A Rocky Road: Intel Microchip Troubles

Early adopters have long known the perils of being the first to jump on new systems, before all the bugs and kinks have a chance to be worked out. Luckily most of these bugs and problems are relatively minor and can be fixed with software updates, but every now and then a whopper comes along that shakes up the whole industry.

This is what happened recently with Intel and the launch of their new CPU, codenamed Sandy Bridge. The chip made waves when it was first announced by promising consumers a way to escape the budget squeeze of buying a dedicated graphics card. It did this by taking a page from the past and combining a graphics processor unit, or GPU, and the central processing unit, or CPU, together in one chip. While most CPUs have some graphics functionality built in, Sandy Bridge took it one step further by pushing the power levels to those of most mid-range graphics cards, potentially saving consumers hundreds of dollars.

A Major Flaw Requires Recall

The problems began when computer manufacturers realized that a key component that controls devices like hard drives and DVD players was malfunctioning and causing these devices to burn out very quickly. Though few of the chips have made it into consumers’ hands, many large computer manufacturers had already ordered large quantities of the chips. Estimates for the cost of the recall place them at around $700 million, with even more in lost revenue.

Even though the flaw was caught long before it had a chance to spread among consumers, it’s important to remember the lesson here: be careful with early adoption of technology.

iPhone Protection: Because Who’s Got an Extra $600 Lying Around?

The iPhone 5 is just around the corner, with most rumor sites pegging release sometime in late September or early October, so who cares if you drop your iPhone ans shatter the screen, right? Well, given that we’re just barely climbing out of a major recession, and unemployment still hovers at just north of 9%, I would wager to say most people. Most of us simply don’t have the $600 lying around to ditch our current phone and switch over to the hot new thing from Apple every year. Most of us have to sit and wait patiently for our contract to run out so we can be eligible for the discounted handset price. So what do we do in the meantime to make sure we’re not stuck walking around with a mashed-up back-plate and a cracked screen (like a certain laptop repair blogger is currently doing)? Why, get some good protection, of course.

There are several things you can do to protect your smartphone investment, with the options mostly arrayed between proactive and reactive. Proactive means some sort of mechanism, usually a case, to prevent damage from happening in the first place. Reactive protection includes things like warranties and service plans that make repairs cheaper if something does happen to your phone.

When it comes to proactive protection, there are two ways you can go: cases and screen protectors. Both represent tremendously high returns on investment. Think about it: a top of the line case for an iPhone 4 like the OtterBox Defender will run you about $50 with tax. If that case prevents just one broken screen, it has paid for itself twice, since at best you’d be looking at just over $100 for a screen repair. And every drop that it prevents after that is an extra $100 in your pocket. Even simple jelly cases like the kind you can pick up from mall kiosks and chinatown street vendors will help when it comes to preventing dings and dents.

There are some things to keep in mind when choosing a case, though. Shopping for cases always involves trade-offs and compromises. Generally, these trade-offs involve sacrificing protection for looks and thinness, and to a lesser extent protection, looks, and thinness for money. The better your case protects, the bulkier and, let’s face it, uglier it will be, and the more it will run you.

The other major downside of cases and screen protectors is that oftentimes they give iPhone users a false sense of security. A lot of people will automatically treat their phones with less care if they think that their case will protect it. A good example of this is tossing the phone carelessly into your pocket without thinking twice about what else may be in there or how easily the phone can fall out. Things like keys, lighters, and lose change can quickly do a number on your phones screen, and there is always a risk of you bumping into something or sitting on your phone by accident, or simply having it fall out. Much safer than simply tossing a phone into your jean or jacket pocket is putting it onto a good belt clip with a hard case. And when I say “good”, I don’t mean a $5 part from chinatown that looks like it was made out of slightly used cardboard. Make sure you get a belt clip with a good, solid spring and a strong clipping mechanism.

An important thing to keep in mind is that proactive protection doesn’t start and end with buying a case or screen protector. There are all sorts of things you can do to actively prevent your phone from being damaged in the first place. As mentioned above, be careful about where you keep your phone. Your pocket might not be such a great idea. If you carry your iPhone in your purse, make sure you’re not also lugging around scrap metal, or your car keys, where they can scratch up the glass. It’s also important to keep in mind also that to date there is not a single iPhone case that is waterproof, and most aren’t even water-resistant, so no matter how nice your case, you will always have to beware of spills and other liquid damage. Avoid water like the plague. If you go to a pool party, leave your phone somewhere far away from the water so you don’t accidentally drop it in or fall in with it in your pocket. It sounds a little silly, I know, but if I had a dollar for every person who’s walked through these doors with a soggy iPhone and a story of jumping into a pool or being thrown in by friends with a $600 toy in their pocket, I would be a rich man. Don’t take your phone to the beach, or if you do leave it in the car. Besides the fact that nothing will destroy sensitive electronics faster than sea water, you also have to worry about sand and other particles that can not only scratch your iPhones screen but make a mess inside the case and play havoc with delicate circuits.

Another important point that people often forget is that your iPhone is no longer just your phone. It’s also your music library, your rolodex, your personal file storage device, your camera, and a thousand and one other important devices rolled in to one. The big thing to note here is that often times the data we store on our phones is almost more valuable than the phone itself. That’s why one of the most important ways you can protect yourself is to backup your phone regularly. Connect your phone to iTunes every day, if you can, and have it make local copies of your documents and files overnight. Or if for some reason your phone won’t sync with iTunes, like if you’ve jailbroken it, you can use this handy method to backup files that iTunes doesn’t want to have anything to do with. Back up your files regularly and even if the worst happens, you won’t loose all your files and apps.

Protecting your iPhone is no trivial feat. It’s a fragile animal with a lot of predators, and it doesn’t take much to break it. However, if you follow these couple of simple precautions and take care, you should have no problem with your iPhone lasting long past your two year contract.

Photos and Contacts

Sorting Through Old Photos and Contacts – Do You Need Them All?

We’ve all been there before — taking multiple photos from different angles just to make sure you get the best shot possible (even though most of them aren’t worth sharing). Or taking a hundred selfies with a hundred different faces only to just post one on Instagram. And if you’ve really gotten into phone photography after reading our iPhone 12 camera blog, you probably have a camera roll full of test shots that you’ll never edit or upload. And remember adding that one “friend” into your contacts but then never messaging them? So what should you do with all of those photos and contacts you no longer need?

In this blog, we’ll cover a couple of reasons why you should consider sorting through your old photos and contacts. After all, 2021 could be your year of productivity and efficiency (check out our 2 cents on that topic)!

How Should You Clean Out Your Photos and Contacts?

1. Organization

If you’re anything like us, your phone’s camera roll is probably anything but organized. And you probably don’t want to waste a ton of space on photos and videos you will never use or upload to social media. But with our tips in hand, you’ll have an organized camera roll before you know it!

For your first step in the organization process, we recommend creating albums for your photos and categorizing them that way. You can organize by timeline, by people, by events, or any category you want! That way, the next time you’re looking for a specific photo, it will be at the tip of your fingers.

And if you’re overwhelmed by the mass of photos in your camera roll, you can select photos in bulk and transfer them to a specific album as well. It’s quick and organized!

2. Save on the Cloud

Not quite sure if you’re ready to part with all of those photos just yet? Upload them to the Cloud! This option is for iPhone users only, of course, but it allows you to store your images elsewhere and free up some space on your phone in the process. As long as you have internet access, you’ll be able to transfer your photos from your phone to the Cloud.

3. Delete, Delete!

This is the not-so-fun part — we know. But just remember that the best part of a moment captured in a photo is the moment itself. Just think about how many duplicate, blurry, and screenshotted images are just sitting on your phone! Delete any photos that just don’t stand out to you, because that probably means you’ll never use them for anything. And in the end, decluttering will feel good — trust us.

4. Establish a “Cleaning Out Routine”

Get into the habit of cleaning out your photos by setting a weekly or monthly reminder to do so. Or you could even set a weekly reminder to organize them and a monthly reminder to delete the ones you no longer need/want!

Don’t put it off any longer; now that you have the tips and tricks to sort through your phone’s photos and contacts, go ahead and go for it! And if you need any assistance along the way, don’t hesitate to give LaptopMD a call.

The “Big Deal” about Hillary’s E-Mails

What is she wearing? I can’t wait to E-mail Michelle about this.”

If you’re like many, you may wonder what the big deal is about Hillary Clinton using a private e-mail server for her governmental duties. While there are way more important stories in the world, the concern about the former Secretary of state using an e-mail address linked to a personal server is legitimate. Besides the remote but intriguing possibility that she was handling foreign policy with a NextPrez2016@gmail.com handle, her sidestepping of the government network is a somewhat devious maneuver. Additionally, the security concerns that arise with using a private network are too dangerous when our nation’s sensitive information is involved.

All municipal and federal employees utilize government servers to correspond. As a former government worker, I can attest that rules stated I was never to use my personal e-mail for ”business”. With top flight encryption and consistent maintenance by IT engineers beyond the cutting edge, these networks are simply more secure than the average e-mail server. Big time public e-mail providers can’t be held to the same standard, because pictures of your week at the beach are a little less of a priority than protecting national security.

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A Million Ways* to Save Your iPhone Battery

A public power outlet is a gold mine isn’t it? I know when I’m out with a certain friend he takes advantage of every working power outlet he can. He’s constantly on his iPhone. If he’s not e-mailing, he’s searching social media or taking pictures. Once his phone hits below a certain percentage he suddenly becomes a character in an adventure film, on a far and wide source for the hidden power. Sometimes the place we eat lunch depends on whether he can charge his phone. Yes, it’s that bad.

I’ve slowly realized that instead of combing backstreets and awkwardly procrastinating in stores until he gets a decent charge, I could be a little more proactive in helping him. We did some hands on research and found myriad ways to preserve an iPhone battery. This is iPhone centric, but some of the general rules apply to all smartphones. There are very practical solutions, as well as some I never would have thought about. At LaptopMD we’re known for curing smartphones, but part of any good Medic’s duty is making sure your phone is always in peak condition. Here are some tips for iPhone owners:

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Battery Usage feature – i0S 8 has a new feature called Battery Usage, which allows you to see which programs are sucking up the most of your battery power. It’s a good idea to know which Apps are taking up the most power, so you can decide which Apps are the best to kill or maybe seek alternatives to. Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage.

Don’t Kill Your Apps! – This is the most obvious solution……except it’s not a solution. The iOS system doesn’t actually hold background memory on Apps, so when you’re not using an app, it holds exactly 0% of your CPU, and subsequently none of your battery. Constantly “killing” your Apps does nothing but drain your battery.

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10 Reasons I Will Never Own An Apple Product

By Alex Mouravskiy, LaptopMD+ Online Marketing

PCs are better than MacsIt seems that in certain fields and among certain demographics, Apple products reign supreme. Among 20-somethings who work in “creative industries”, you’ll hardly find a single machine or gizmo without a shiny apple plastered somewhere on the case. Nevertheless, despite fitting squarely into that “20-something creative type” category, I refuse to own an Apple product. It’s not because I’m trying to buck a trend, or because I want to stand out from my peers. Really. It’s because when you look at it, there are very few positives to owning a Mac, iPod, iPad, or iPhone. Here’s my top 10 reasons why I personally will never (or at least not in the foreseeable future) own an Apple product (in no particular order):

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LaptopMD+ made it into Time Out New York

Well ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we’ve made it into Time Out New York. Again. For the second time in as many years. How you like them apples, Tekserve? Looks like we’re quickly becoming a New York institution, and it’s about time, too.

It looks like after 10 years of slugging it out, we’re finally making it to the big time. And again it’s for our convenience. And if anyone should know about convenience, it’s writers. Trust me, I’ve been in the trenches. We’re some of the most hassle-averse people in the world. So if a writer tells you something is convenient, you bet it’s convenient.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we’re the only shop in the city that promises same-day service on most repairs and stays open until 9pm. And we do deliveries and pickups, did I mention that yet?

So what’s the next step? What’s next on LaptopMD+s quest for world domination? Maybe the New York Times (wink wink to any NYT reporters that stop in or read this). Then, we march off to conquer!

Apple Tracks, Android Erases, and Congress Can’t Make Up It’s Mind

Apple and Android both make PR mis-stepsIt seems the major cell phone OS companies just can’t let us have a break from their controversial shenanigans this month. First, highlighting both the vulnerabilities of the Android operating system, and Google’s powers to deal with it, we learned that the several apps in the Android Marketplace came with a bonus feature: a worm that could transmit you and your phones private info to the controllers of the virus. In a move that shouldn’t have been shocking, since the ability to do so is both written into the EULA for the Android OS and is found on every other cell phone OS, Google admitted that it had the power to reach into private users’ phones and remove the offending program remotely and without any notification to the user. Now, they sent notification anyway, apparently learning from the Buzz fiasco, but many people were still shocked and offended. Despite giving consent through the EULA, and despite the ability to do this sort of thing is standard for Google, RIM’s Blackberry OS, iOS, WinPhone7, and even Symbian and Palm OS.

Then, we shockingly discovered the meaning of the once-cryptic phrase found in our phone’s user guide: “iOS/Android may periodically send anonymous location information to Apple/Google.” Turns out, it means that iOs/Android may periodically send anonymous location information to Apple/Google. Mass hysteria and populist outrage broke out when it was discovered that Apple, and later Google, would periodically get location updates from users with smartphones. Because anonymous user information collection is now an invasion of privacy, because Apple “MIGHT” take the next step and collect private information, and then it “MIGHT” take the next step to selling or doing bad things with that information, and then it “MIGHT” trip on a slippery slope and then it’s goodbye freedom, hello 1984. Or, on the other hand, Apple “MIGHT” use it’s billions upon billions in cash reserves to simply tranquilize all Americans and implant them with a GPS location device, saving themselves a huge PR hassle.

Finally, it seems that congress has found itself with nothing to do and has plenty of time to kill (you know, now that the economy is completely fixed, unemployment is in the negatives, and we have secured freedom and democracy in every country in the world), so it has launched an investigation into the location tracking done by Apple and whether it was legal for apple to build in this capability. Despite a law passed in 2001 saying that this capability had to be built in. By law. Passed by congress. Rumor has it that Jobs has refused to acknowledge the congressional probe because it was formated for PC’s and could not be read.

Money, Money, (CNN) Money!

LaptopMD featured on CNN MoneyWe’ve made the news again! Following in the footsteps of such exciting developments as being featured in the Wall Street Journal, recommended in Time Out New York, and being interviewed on WPIX-11, we have one more notch to put on our belt.

Our intrepid founder, Arthur Zilberman, is quoted for a CNN Money tech blog about the importance of backing up data and why electronic gadgets just don’t seem to last as long we think they should. Highlights include:

“People have to remember that computers are machines — their parts wear out like the tires on a car,” says Arthur Zilberman, owner of Manhattan repair shop LaptopMD.

and

“We have people coming in crying every single day over losing term papers and photos,” Zilberman says. “They pay thousands of dollars to try to retrieve their data. If everyone backed up, we’d have a lot less business.”

and many more. Check it out by going here for the PDF version or here for the original blog post.

And backup your data. But not too often, or we’ll go out of business and you’ll miss seeing our awesome blog posts.