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Besttechie

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About Besttechie

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  • Birthday 07/19/89

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    My Girlfriend, Computers, Business, Helping People, Music, and Sports

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  1. Like the title of this article says, I’m a huge fan of Tom DeLonge (former blink-182 guitarist/vocals) and have been supporting his work with Angels & Airwaves for many years. This includes supporting his music as well as his movie projects, but the other day, Tom announced his latest venture: To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science and this one, well, this one is different than previous ones. This time around Tom is using an equity crowd funding model to raise money for his new company. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this model of fundraising, I’m truly concerned about the viability of said company after reading the offering letter. In the most TLDR version of the letter, it reads: THIS IS A BAD IDEA, DO NOT INVEST. Obviously I’m paraphrasing here, slightly. Yet despite the horrifying offer letter, as of me writing this, 620 people have invested at least $200 in the company’s offering bringing the total number of dollars raised to nearly $300,000 so far. Yikes. So why shouldn’t you invest in Tom’s new company? There are several reasons so bear with me as I’m going to attempt to break this down for you. Not enough funding & massive dilution In this offering, the maximum amount of money that Tom & co. can raise is $50 million which they acknowledge to likely not be enough (if they can even raise it in the first place). I’ll stop right there for now, it will certainly not be enough based on the projects outlined and described in the offering letter. Several of these projects are aerospace initiatives or advanced technologies that require significant R&D. I’ll put it in perspective for you: NASA requested $19 billion from the US government for its 2017 budget and Tom expects him and his team to be able to build rockets and interplanetary space travel vehicles for $50 million? I don’t think so. Furthermore, look at Space X, in its first ten years of operation the company operated extremely lean on $1 billion. Of that $1 billion, Elon Musk himself put $100 million into the company when he first launched it. “So what?” you’re thinking, Tom’s company will just raise more money. Sure, if they find some success and build a viable product they can go out and raise some more money. Hypothetically, let’s say they do find some success with a product or two and go out to raise more money. How does that affect you? It affects you a great deal. Remember that $200 you invested at $5 per share way back when? Yeah, those 40 shares will now be diluted to essentially nothing, turning your initial investment to dust. Your already paltry ownership stake will now be (even more) microscopic. Even if you disagree with me and decide to invest your $200 for 40 shares of Common Stock you get no power or say in the company and frankly, considering how early on you’re investing in this new company with pretty much no product, very little revenue, and no profits, I’d expect to have Common Stock with rights attached that give some power to shareholders. These things alone should convince you investing in this company is a bad idea, but there’s even more reasons not to. How’s your invested money being spent? According to the offering letter, the minimum qualifying funding is $1 million, so in order for the fundraising to complete, Tom needs to raise at least $1 million through this crowd equity campaign. As we just discussed, $50 million isn’t even enough to work on the projects they’ve highlighted in the letter, how would $1 million help? It wouldn’t help with anything other than paying back Tom for a “loan” he gave To The Stars in 2015 and 2016. As you can see in the letter, it outlines how the money would be spent based on possible amounts that could be raised, well, I want to call your attention to one line in particular: Approximately $600,000 to repay a loan from Our Two Dogs, Inc. Who do you think owns Our Two Dogs, Inc.? Tom DeLonge. If you don’t believe me, read the letter, it says it in there. Now that’s fine, I guess, he’s entitled to be paid back if they successfully raise funds, but here’s another line from the use of proceeds section: If the offering size were to be less than $5 million and above the $1 million minimum, TTS AAS would adjust its use of proceeds by reducing planned growth of employee headcount, reducing operational costs, and slowing down projects or not making investment in projects. The company is also required under the loan to Our Two Dogs, Inc. to repay 10% of the net proceeds from funds raised in this offering, up to $400,000 in this scenario. So let me get this right, the To The Stars offering brings in less than $5 million from crowd funders but Tom essentially makes back his loan and the company continues to operate at a bare bones/skeleton crew level. That just isn’t right. Your investment in To The Stars would essentially be to continue to fund payroll for Tom and his few full-time employees for another year. It’s hardly a smart investment on any level. Additionally, there’s another line you should look at: We are required to pay a minimum royalty guarantee of $100,000 each calendar year. That royalty payment is a minimum $100,000 annual payment to Tom, regardless of whether or not revenues exceed $100,000. Seriously? These crazy projects & lack of talent I’ll start this off saying, I’m sure Tom’s a smart guy, but Elon Musk is smarter and if he isn’t working on these things described by Tom what makes you think they are a) possible and b) worthy of spending time on? Or maybe Elon is working on some of them in which case I give Elon the upper hand, not just because he’s likely smarter but because he already has an established team of smart people around him. So if you want to invest money in space, give it to Elon Musk. Building on the crazy projects, the company only has three full-time employees currently, Tom and Kari DeLonge, and Lisa Clifford (who’s the secretary). In the letter it notes that the company has a relationship with James Semivan, Harold Puthoff, and Louis Tommasino but they are all contractors — not full-time employees, so how much time will they be actually spending on the company, especially if they’re not getting paid? I’ll tell you: zero amount of time. And honestly, do you think people are going to leave Space X or Tesla or Apple or Google or any number of companies to go work for Tom DeLonge building rockets/space ships? Unlikely. Look, I get it. You want to support Tom and his work–I do too, but don’t go blindly giving him $200 for shares in a company that you will never see any meaningful return from. And frankly, I’m a bit disappointed by this move from Tom, I had a lot of respect for him musically but also from a business perspective but this is just not cool–he’s using his fanbase to reimburse himself for the past two years, or at least that’s what it looks like to me. I’d love to be wrong. The post I’m a huge Tom DeLonge fan, but don’t invest in his latest venture appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  2. The latest in the 2big series of external hard drives is soon to be shipping from LaCie. After an initial delay (the new drives were originally supposed to ship over the summer), the company is now ready to release their latest creation upon the world. The brand new 2big Dock, as LaCie is calling it, sports Thunderbolt 3 making it fully plug-n-play compatible with the latest MacBook Pros and capable of transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s. Setting up the LaCie Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock is easy–in fact, it’s mostly just unbox and plug in. LaCie also offers some RAID manager software that you can install to help manage the drive arrays. By default the drive comes in a RAID 0 configuration and formatted in HFS+, you can however, choose a RAID 1 or independent drive (JBOD) configuration if you wish (just remember that may affect performance). One thing of note: when I received the drive, macOS High Sierra had just been released which features the new APFS (Apple File System) so I decided to format the 2big Dock with APFS as well. Drive speeds (read/write) The 2big Dock is available in three storage configurations: 12TB, 16TB, and 20TB. Unlike previous 2big external drives where different configurations had different classes of hard drives, LaCie used the same enterprise-grade drives in each configuration which is nice. Each 2big Dock comes standard with two 7200-RPM Seagate IronWolf Pro enterprise-class hard drives (Seagate owns LaCie by the way) which boast 440MB/s read/write speeds. This is an improvement from the previous Thunderbolt 2 2big generation external drives which had read/write speeds of 420MB/s. Our tests with theThunderbolt 3 2big Dock (20TB in RAID 0) showed that the drives actually performed a bit better than rated with tests showing read speeds of 474MB/s and write speeds of 462MB/s. When we tested a previous generation Thunderbolt 2 2big (8TB in RAID 0) we found that those drives actually underperformed when compared to the advertised speed, coming in with read speeds of 286MB/s and write speeds of 336MB/s. LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 drive read/write speeds.Data transfer speeds We also spent some time transferring files to the 2big Dock, and I say some time as opposed to a lot of time, because moving files to the 2big Dock is fast. Here are some examples: Transferring data from a Thunderbolt 2 drive to the Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock 2GB – less than 1 minute 12GB – less than 1 minute 65GB – approx. 3 minutes 185GB – approx. 10 minutes 1TB – approx. 50 minutes Transferring data from a MacBook Pro SSD (Late 2016) to the Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock 3GB – approx. 6 seconds 5GB – approx. 10 seconds 24GB – 1 minute 30 seconds Additional features and ports Front of the LaCie Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock.Aside from the great storage capacity and speedy transfer speeds, the 2big Dock has some other new things to offer customers. This time around LaCie has built-in some additional ports that will your life a bit easier. You will find both a compact flash slot as well as SD card slot on the front of the enclosure, and as someone who just bought a GoPro this enables easy transfer of my GoPro footage back to my LaCie drive for editing on the computer. Also on the front of the enclosure is a USB 3.0 (type-A) SuperSpeed port which you can use to quickly charge your smartphone or connect another external drive to move unneeded files/footage. On the back of the enclosure is a USB-C 3.1 port as well as two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one you use to plug into your computer and the other can be used to power a display or even daisy chain up to five (5) other drives. The 2big Dock also sports a DisplayPort allowing you to connect a 720p, 1080p, or 4K display. Back of the LaCie Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock.Ever since moving most of my computing to a MacBook Pro and away from a desktop computer I’ve been storing my entire music collection on an external drive. Prior to receiving this 20TB Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock, I had been using a Thunderbolt 2 8TB 2big drive to store my music and movies and had iTunes configured to play the files off of the external drive. That setup worked well enough, there was sometimes a little lag going on between songs or starting up a movie, but overall, it worked. That being said, I was really happy to see (and hear) when I moved my music and movie libraries over to the new Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock that small amount of lag was eliminated. This is likely a combination of the faster drives and the faster Thunderbolt 3 connection. Sometimes it’s the tiny things that matter most. Verdict Overall, I’ve been very pleased with LaCie’s 2big Dock, it’s a versatile solution for professionals. I think it hits all the right marks for a solid external drive: plenty of storage, fast, and easily expandable. Bottom line: whether you are a creative professional or a techie, the Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock by LaCie is an excellent choice for your external drive needs. The Thunderbolt 3 2big Dock starts at $849 for 12TB, $1049 for 16TB, and $1299 for 20TB. It looks like Amazon may have some better deals. The post Review: LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 external drive appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  3. No wonder Best Buy is dying

    In one week I’ll be on my way to the beautiful state of Hawaii for a vacation with Mandy. This morning she had a great idea, “We should buy a GoPro,” she said to me. I looked at her, thought about it for a second, and agreed. After all, they just released the GoPro Hero 6 Black only a few days ago and I thought it’d be super fun to do a Hawaii-centric review. So we went to Amazon.com and clicked Buy on the GoPro Hero 6 Black Vacation bundle, which includes the camera, a rechargeable battery, 32GB microSD card, and a GoPro 3-way grip, arm, and tripod mount. We also bought an extra 200GB microSD card which will come in handy since the new GoPro Hero 6 Black can shoot video in [email protected] But enough about GoPro for now, we’ll save that for the review. I want to talk about Best Buy and all the other brick and mortar retail giants. The entire purchase process of buying the GoPro and the accessories on Amazon took no more than 2 minutes and literally every product we purchased this morning arrived this afternoon, except for the GoPro Hero 6 Black which is coming Monday. All of this is important to keep in mind as you read the rest of this post. After we placed the order, Mandy suggested we go to our local Best Buy to look at the GoPro in person, I agreed, plus it provided a little Saturday adventure. So we both get ready and head over to Best Buy, we walk in and it’s pretty much a ghost town, we walk down the main aisle past the Google section, past the Microsoft section, past the Apple section, and finally we see a sign that read “Cameras.” We’re close I thought as we turn right into the cameras section of the store and walk past a hands-on area designed for more than a dozen cameras but only with like 3 DSLRs out available to play with. Well, that’s weird I thought to myself. I see a sign with the GoPro logo on it and Mandy and I both walk over with excitement in our steps, but that excitement quickly turned to confusion and then disappointment. The GoPro section had a handful of accessories, but no GoPros (of any make/model) on display. We then spotted a display case which was housing probably about 10 GoPros, only one of them being the Hero 6 Black, the rest were the older 5 model. “Looks like they don’t have any on display,” I said to Mandy a bit crankily. “They must have one somewhere…let’s ask someone,” she replied. We tracked someone down and asked if they had any GoPros on display, “Nope, if it’s not over there, we don’t,” the store associate said and walked off nonchalantly as if we were inquiring about a box of batteries. This is a $500 camera I’m asking about, don’t you care at all? You’re not even going to try to sell me on it? Okay then. “Let’s go,” I said and we walked out of the Best Buy frustrated. “Why don’t we check PC Richard & Sons? Maybe they have one on display,” Mandy said to me as we rode the escalator down. PC Richard was literally right down the street heading back towards our apartment, so we walked in and went right to the camera section. Nothing. They didn’t even appear to carry GoPro. And to make it even more comical, right across from the cameras was an old display area labeled “Clock Radios” which literally had two clock radios on display. The store was so empty you could hear a pin drop. We turned around and walked out, but not before passing the toaster section of the store–those they had a ton of on display. I’m now convinced this is exactly why brick and mortar is suffering so badly. Store associates don’t care, this is just a retail job to them. They negatively impact your store’s brand and image if you don’t treat them well or care. The only thing these stores have going for them is that they can offer a hands-on experience and yet they aren’t taking advantage of that strength at all. Their floor plans are old and outdated and it’s almost cringeworthy. More toasters on display than cameras, seriously? Clock radios? Does anyone under 65 still use those? Buying products at a store is too slow and clunky. The post No wonder Best Buy is dying appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  4. The mind is a machine. Though not much of a stretch these days, prior to 1930 this way of thinking was non-existent according to Margaret A. Boden, author of “Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science.” Cognitive psychology, the study of the mind as an information processor, gained prominence in the 1950s as computer-powered machines became more advanced. Cognitive science exercises concepts from artificial intelligence (AI) and control theory to understand the manual and autonomic functions of the brain. Fast forward over a half century later, and a subfield of artificial intelligence — machine learning — is the centerpiece of innovation for major tech conglomerates. AI Conquers Go Machine learning techniques and algorithms are being developed constantly for a variety of uses. Developers at the company DeepMind (acquired by Google in 2014) took machine learning to the popular Chinese game “Go,” in which players make long series of strategic decisions using multiple factors in human logic. In March of 2016, a top-ranked “Go” player, Lee Se-dol, lost three straight matches before winning one against the AI machine learning competitor, “AlphaGo,” developed by DeepMind. Following the initial matchup, humans had a shot at redemption this past May when the world’s top ranked “Go” player, Ke Gie, squared up against “AlphaGo” for a best of 3 set. “AlphaGo” swept Ke Gie in two straight games, meaning artificial intelligence and machine learning capability has surpassed human ability in the world of “Go.” This is just the brink of where this computer logic can be applied. Machine Learning Transcending Medicine Using a similar algorithm used with “AlphaGo,” Mark Waller and his team from Shanghai University in China, are developing a streamlined computerized system for creating molecules. This process has been a heavy time-suck for chemists over the entire history of its existence, requiring trial and error under numerous testing conditions. The most recent evolution of digital molecule creation “Syntaurus” analyzes over 12 million known reactions before suggesting the best pathway for synthesis. With this technology, successful pre-discovered syntheses were mapped out within seconds, matching the exact compositions of verified literature. The form of machine learning used in both “AlphaGo” and “Syntaurus” is known as Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS). Although it has been demonstrated to work in multiple cases, there are still other variables such as the relative spatial arrangement of atoms and natural products that have not been accounted for in the algorithm as of yet, but it’s certainly an exciting step in the future of medicine. Mobilized Machine Learning Anytime new technology is developed in this day and age, it should be expected to extend to our mobile devices and machine learning capabilities are no exception. Mobilized machine learning can have a profound effect on our everyday lives once fully realized. Qualcomm is one of the leading innovators in mobile machine learning, and their Snapdragon mobile platform is a shining example. The technology memorizes user tendencies and in return constantly adapts to better focus on the needs of the user. This leads to increased battery life and efficiency, higher quality connections at all times, streamlining of manual processes and adaptable security to ensure no other user can falsify identity or access critical information. Beyond enhanced practical usage, Snapdragon also offers the mobile machine learning luxury of an intuitive camera. Objects and surroundings in pictures/videos will be recognized by your device for improved compositional value and post-production editing. What’s Next? Machines have minds of their own, but prior to the 1950s, those minds couldn’t conceivably think independently. The entire script has flipped with the advancement of artificial intelligence. Machines help us think and operate, and can now communicate back with advanced analytics while mastering our thinking patterns. Conspiracy theorists and some futurists fear the day when machines will outsmart people to the point of frightening consequences. That’s a separate debate. For now, let’s rejoice in the beautiful innovations machine learning capabilities have provided and will provide in the near future. The post Modern machine learning technology, a function of human cognition appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  5. One of the top messaging apps, Viber, announced today new features to their group messaging services within the app. The three features bring even more usability to the app, making it a more viable option to directly communicate with more than one person. These features make Viber a worthy opponent to the messaging world’s “big three”- WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger. Viber, which touts over 800 million users on its purple themed messaging app, launched the much awaited feature, pinned messages, now letting admins pin posts to any group message, like they would on Telegram. Pinned messages stay as a little banner within the group history log no matter how much you scroll, making it a great way to remind people that this is a NO SPOILERS Game of Thrones group. You can also post the plans for tonight in your buddy group and those pictures of your baby in the family group. This feature helps avoid clutter in groups by reducing the amount of “Where are we meeting up?” or “What did we say that thing was?” That so often plagues group chats. The second feature, is message replies. This relatively new feature that has gained popularity in recent months across many platforms seems to be making group messaging a wider medium, as many different conversations can occur at once without harming the flow of conversation across the group itself. This one feature which is becoming more and more standard is making group messaging a surprisingly robust form of communication. Like the difference between when Facebook launched statuses and the state of posting on Facebook right now, it seems group chat is going through a similar process with reactions, stickers, animations, and now threaded conversations, being added in and becoming “basic” group messaging features. The third and most intriguing feature is something Viber calls “broadcast lists.” Basically a messaging version of a mailing list. You can make a list of people who aren’t in an existing group and send them all the same personal message. The marketing aspect of this type of tool is clear- it makes it easy to send the same message personally to everyone, thus increasing your lead communication and efficiency. For individuals however, the uses can be wider, and maybe more interesting. It’s similar to posting a status on Facebook, but making sure everyone sees it, in the way that you can send important friend updates about your life without having a group or copy-pasting. On the other hand, it could get kind of spammy. Your friend is in a band? Expect to get a “personal message” on Viber anytime a song comes out. Your other friend needs help with likes on some Facebook competition? You’re going to get dinged. This feature is new and somewhat exciting, I wonder how people will use it. Overall though, Viber seems to still be going strong in a world that seems to be slowly taken over by three major players, two of which are owned by Facebook. If you’re looking for a smart alternative that was first on the scene with phone number based VoIP (and in this reporter’s opinion still the best VoIP service around), Viber is your pick. The thing is, I don’t think any of these features will make users migrate to Viber. But if you’re out there, well, mazel tov, you now have a reason to move to Viber. The post Group messaging is becoming more robust, might be the future of social media appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  6. I’m convinced the brand new Apple Watch Series 3 outsold the iPhone 8. While I have absolutely no hard evidence of this and it may be completely wrong, I think it’s the case based on how quickly pre-orders for the Watch and iPhone 8 slipped back from delivering on launch day. And then of course, you have the 800 pound gorilla in the room that will be available for pre-order later this month, the iPhone X, that I believe most people are waiting for. Nonetheless, I waited in line at the Apple Store in SoHo (New York City) a couple Friday’s ago–not for the iPhone 8 but for the Apple Watch Series 3. As you know I am a big fan of the Apple Watch. Up until I bought the Series 3 recently I had been using the original Apple Watch every day. Launch day issues The launch of the Apple Watch Series 3 didn’t go completely as planned though, but that was in no part due to Apple but rather wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon which had issues activating watches that weren’t bought directly from them–in other words–watches bought from Apple. Those activation issues seemed to be resolved within a day as I was able to activate the cellular service on my Apple Watch Series 3 on Saturday morning. Annoying and slightly frustrating, but these things can and do happen. Cellular capabilities The biggest new feature of the Series 3 is of course, cellular service. Your watch will share the phone number associated with your iPhone, however, it doesn’t need to be tethered to your iPhone to work. In fact, the Apple Watch Series 3 can make and receive phone calls without you having your phone with you. Having cellular on the watch also means you can send texts, receive notifications from your favorite apps, and soon stream music directly on the watch via Apple Music. On average most wireless carriers are charging around $10/month extra per Apple Watch you add to your plan, which does feel like a bit of a ripoff, I think $5 tops would be more fair. In terms of call quality, in my testing, it was adequate for what it is. I didn’t experience any issues with dropped calls or people cutting in and out in my tests. However, when using the watch speaker as opposed to a pair of Bluetooth headphones (e.g. AirPods) I found at times (even within my own apartment) that it was difficult to hear the person on the other end of the call. Basically, I wish the speaker was a bit better and louder, but when dealing with a device as small as a watch I understand you need to make some compromises. The best part about having cellular service on your Apple Watch is that there’s no need to worry if don’t bring your phone with you when you go for a run or go to the park to play basketball. In my opinion, less things to carry = better. Battery life I read all the reviews of the Series 3 before it was officially released and I just didn’t experience the same issues with battery life that people claimed. In fact, in one test (with my iPhone turned off), I had a 40 minute call on my watch and when I hung up, the battery was only down to 82 percent (started at 100 percent). In every day usage so far I have yet to need switch the watch into reserve power mode, even after long days. For example, waking up at 3AM for a flight and then not plugging my watch in until much later that night. So in my experience the Series 3 battery life is phenomenal. Some additional perspective: it’s currently 2:30 PM and I’m sitting here typing this review and my watch is at 77 percent battery (I’ve been wearing it all day). Water resistance According to Apple, the Apple Watch Series 3 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters (around 164 feet), meaning that it can used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. Based on my experience, I went swimming in a pool twice with the Series 3 and can confirm it still worked perfectly after both sessions. I also noticed there’s a feature if you swipe up, you’ll see a water droplet icon, which if you tap on and then turn the digital crown, it makes the watch play some sounds that I assume help push out any water that may be in the device. I also have showered several times with the Series 3, something I really wished I could do with the original Apple Watch so I’m very happy about that. Last thing of note with regard to water resistance, Apple has stated that the Apple Watch Series 3 should not be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth. Just something to keep in mind. Watch performance Going from the original Apple Watch to the Series 3 provided a huge performance boost. Apps load much quicker, everything feels snappier overall. I remember thinking to myself how I felt like loading an app would literally feel like it was taking forever on the original Apple Watch, now it’s pretty much instant. Health and activity Of course, like the models before it, the Series 3 offers the amazing capabilities built-in to watchOS such as tracking workouts and activity. But one new feature in watchOS 4 on the Series 3 is its ability to measures your heart rate throughout the day — while you’re resting, walking, or in the recovery phase after a workout. The Heart Rate app also notifies you if your heart rate rises above a set threshold when you’ve been inactive for a 10-minute period–this is a super important feature that could potentially help save lives I think. Plus, soon Apple will be launching the Apple Heart Study which will use data from Apple Watch to identify irregular heart rhythms, including those from potentially serious heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation. The company plans to roll it out later this year in collaboration with Stanford Medicine and with helpful guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Verdict So should you buy the Apple Watch Series 3? I think so, especially if you’ve either been holding off on buying an Apple Watch or have an original. The post An honest review of the Apple Watch Series 3 appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  7. Review: IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock

    We’ve talked before about using a docking station with your laptop as a way to simplify your setup while sitting at your desk. In my recent OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock review one of the things I discussed is how it adds an additional 13 ports to your MacBook Pro, making it much more versatile. This time I’ll be reviewing a competitors product, the IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock. The basics The IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock is a well-built device that adds an additional 9 ports to your laptop and can connect to your computer via a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. It comes with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable as well as a power cable. The dock offers two Thunderbolt 3 ports which operate at maximum transfer speeds of 40Gb/s (that’s 8x faster than USB 3.0). The other seven ports are: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x USB-C port (USB 3.1 Gen1), 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A port, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port, 1 x 3.5mm audio input, and 1 x 3.5mm audio output. IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock basics.The features Like the OWC dock, IOGear’s supports dual 4K displays or a single 5K display and you can use one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports to daisy chain up to 5 devices such as external drives. I had it powering my 5K LG UltraFine display during my tests. The only port the IOGear has that the OWC dock doesn’t is a single DisplayPort capable of handling a 4K display at 60Hz. Another nice thing about the IOGear dock is that it has an USB-C port on the front alongside a standard USB port, something I wish the OWC dock did as well, especially as more USB-C devices come into existence. You can get an idea of the type of configuration that can be setup using this dock from the graphic below: The verdict Truth be told, this device works fine for what it is, the problem is its price. The IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock retails for $299 which is also the same price as the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock and for that much money you’re better off getting the OWC dock which offers more legacy ports and versatility. I just have a hard time recommending a very similar product that does much less but costs the same — if it was selling for $200-$250, then yes, I’d say it’s a good buy for those on a tighter budget. The post Review: IOGear Thunderbolt 3 dock appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  8. Some new reporting out of Nikkei Asian Review indicates that suppliers are still struggling to raise the output levels of the iPhone X’s 3D sensor which is impacting the amount of devices able to be produced. As previously reported, it’s possible that production of the iPhone X is only around 10,000 units per day. Two executives working for iPhone suppliers told Nikkei Asian Review that makers of 3-D sensor parts are still struggling to reach a satisfactory level of output, and to boost their yield rate. […] Both sources were unable to offer clarity on whether Apple could meet demand after launch of the iPhone X. One said the phone was being produced in small quantities, around tens of thousands daily. The report then goes on to say that one analyst believes Foxconn has been able to produce 2 million iPhone X units in September and is likely to be able to produce another 10 million units in October. Jeff Pu, an analyst at Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, also identified the 3-D sensors as the only major issue remaining. […] According to Pu’s estimate, Foxconn churned out 2 million units of the iPhone X in September, and in October that number should rise to 10 million. He said that Foxconn will have assembled a total of 40 million iPhone X phones by year-end, lower than his estimate of 45 million earlier this year. “Supply will still be tight after Nov. 3,” Pu noted. As you are likely aware, iPhone X pre-orders start on October 27 at 12AM PST/3AM EST and will be arriving at people’s doorsteps starting on November 3. If these reports are accurate, it looks like Apple will have approximately 12 million iPhone X’s available to ship [worldwide] initially. So let’s break this down: When Apple launched the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in 2015, the company sold 13 million iPhones during the initial launch weekend (which includes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). If I were a betting man, I’d bet that the iPhone X demand is going to be even higher and remember, there will only be 12 million units available (for both online and in store sales). So what should you do if you want one on November 3? WAKE UP (or stay awake)! Place your order for the iPhone X at exactly 12AM PST/3AM EST as I’m guessing it will take just minutes for the ship dates to slip to December and then January. Here’s are some additional insider tips to increase your chances of getting an iPhone X on November 3. Go to Apple’s website right now and go through the iPhone X selection process, meaning, choose your carrier, color, and storage capacity. It obviously will not let you buy it, but you can favorite that configuration so it will already be filled out and ready to go on October 27. Simply select the iPhone X you favorited and pre-configured from earlier and checkout. One other recommendation: usually the Apple Store app on iOS tends to be the quickest and easiest way to place your order for things, especially on launch days. Aside from that…. good luck and Godspeed. The post How difficult will it be to get an iPhone X? appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  9. We’ve talked about VPNs before and why you would want to use one, but one question I get asked a lot is, “will using a VPN negatively affect my internet speeds?” And in short, the answer is yes. There’s pretty much no way around it. That being said, if you pick a good provider, a close server to you (geographically), as well as a server that doesn’t have high load you can minimize the negative impact using a VPN will have on your internet speed. I’m a fan of the VPN provider, NordVPN (I recently wrote an article that shows how you can get up and running using NordVPN in about 5 minutes), because among other things, they offer hundreds of servers around the world and you can usually find one nearby that doesn’t have a high load. That being said, if you’re looking for an alternative you can take a look at the roundup of VPN service providers we did a while back. Now back to the question, in an effort to show you how using a VPN can affect your internet speeds, I ran a few speed tests. You will notice that the speed test with the best results is the one without a VPN connection. Speed test without a VPN.In addition to having the best speeds without a VPN, take a look at the ping time–without a VPN the ping is 3ms and the two speed tests below using a VPN have higher ping times. This higher latency is only normal with a VPN since your connection is first going to the VPN, then hitting the speed test servers, and then running the speed test as opposed to a device without a VPN simply going directly to the speed test servers without a “middle man.” Speed test connected to a close VPN server.As you will notice the speeds essentially were halved while connected to a VPN server with a 15 percent load and that was around 2 miles away from me. Additionally, you can see the ping time increased from 3ms to 5ms. Now, clearly these internet speeds are still plenty fast and with most normal web browsing and/or file downloads you will not see a real difference in page load times or smaller file downloads. But what if you connect to a VPN server that isn’t close to you? I wanted to do another speed test connected to a VPN server that was even farther away from me. I picked one with 50 percent load that was about 270 miles away and ran the test again. Speed test connected to a far away VPN server.Unsurprisingly the results were even worse. The ping time increased to 15ms and both the download and the upload speeds dropped even more significantly. At this point, you would really be sacrificing your internet speeds. Browsing the web would still be fine, but downloading and uploading would definitely be hampered quite a bit. So what should you do? Should you give up extra privacy for more speed or give up some speed for more privacy? Ultimately that’s up to you but what I can recommend is always picking a VPN server with the lowest usage load and that’s close to you. If you do those two things you reduce the amount of latency between your computer and the server making for a better VPNing experience. The post How does a VPN affect your internet speeds? appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  10. It appears that even the education industry is pivoting to video. From traditional lectures to interactive online classrooms, today’s education relies more and more on video technology to create effective learning spaces on the web. Think about having the capabilities to teach and learn remotely, without leaving your house, while still being able to absorb new information, and easily collaborate with professors and peers, as you would in real life. Video technology enables students and educators to engage and communicate in live classes, lectures, presentations, chat rooms and forums to create distance learning environments and enhance on campus teaching. Videos bring educational online communities together and help overcome any physical restrictions, allowing students to have access to greater resources and for lecturers to teach and pass along their knowledge to students around the world. Kaltura, a leading provider in video technology, has tapped into the education industry by providing institutions with the tools to create thriving online educational communities for remote teaching and learning. The company just released the results of its fourth annual international study on the evolving use of video in education, which includes unique data on how students and institutions today utilize videos in education. The survey of 1,000 participants, including educators, designers, IT professionals, digital media professionals, administrators and students, reveals a significant increase in video use in distant learning. Kaltura illustrates this shift from traditional classrooms to online educational spaces as its survey results show a 135% increase in distant learning. Additionally, Kaltura emphasizes the growth in lecture capture with more institutions adopting lecture capture tools. Kaltura’s Co-Founder, President & General Manager of Enterprise & Learning, Dr. Michal Tsur thinks that this increase could be due to affordability and availability. “Lecture capture is another strong growth area, fueled by the availability of inexpensive, ‘one-click’ lecture capture software running on Windows PCs. While in the past only lectures in large lectures halls were captured, today it is possible to capture far more classes for students to re-engage with, which aids understanding and retention.” With more institutions and students wanting to implement videos in remote online education, one question that comes to mind is how does this demand change the infrastructure of educational systems? Will there be an increase in remote education in general, and is this method preferred over traditional classrooms? If we look at today’s generation, it seems that individuals prefer to learn from their devices, which can pose limitations for those times when you truly need hands on learning to get a well rounded educational experience. Only time will tell if companies such as Kaltura, will become a true competitor to the traditional chalk and blackboard classroom setting. The post Even the education industry is pivoting to video according to a new study appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  11. The phrase, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” is an often quoted line from a speech Winston Churchill gave to the House of Commons in 1947. Seventy years later, with the age of the internet giving people more power, nearly unrestricted access, (sometimes false) information, and influence, we ask ourselves, is Democracy still the best way to go about things? Well, I’m no expert in parliamentary proceedings, but a new company believes that while democracy is still “the best of the worst” when it comes to forms of government, it might be the best of the best when it comes to investment management. Crowdwiz, a new ethereum-based investment fund, believes that the people, and the concept of majority vote does indeed have the wisdom needed to make the smartest decisions. Their service, currently in pre-ICO and soon to be in beta, lets users open funds with various forms of management that will be managed completely democratically by the investors. Crowdwiz, aligned with the vision of blockchain, is offering an innovative, interesting and completely new structure to the traditional methods of investing, bringing decentralization to one of the most centralized-dependent industries. According to the team at Crowdwiz, this differs from existing holding companies with multiple owners by one, key way- like in a true democracy, everyone gets one vote. From a technical standpoint, whenever a new fund is created the service generates a new token; whoever buys at least one token in the ICO, and after, as decided by the creator of the fund, gets voting rights. Any token you buy beyond that, might increase your returns and make you more invested in the fund, but it won’t give you any more power over the direction of the fund. The company plans to launch its first crowdsourced fund at the launch of their beta, before actually allowing anyone to open a fund of their own. CrowdWiz will invite the public at large or specific, targeted, audiences to participate in their funds. As of late, the financial blockchain world has hit a bit of a legal snag, with the People’s Bank of China deeming ICOs illegal, and Russian officials saying they might not be far behind. China and Russia were the strongest driving force behind ICO investment, as ICOs are illegal in the US and many other western countries. It remains to be seen how governments and institutionalized banks will feel about revenue obtained through a blockchain based investment device. While today it seems like there is no ban on blockchain in most countries, as China showed us just recently, these things can change in the drop of a hat. The bigger question, though, might be whether or not democracy really is the best way to manage a financial fund- as most of them are currently run by either professional analysts, wealthy partners, or algorithms. Are the masses smart enough to invest their money wisely? We will soon find out, until then, we’ll stick to democracy as our form of government. The post Is democracy the next big thing in investing? appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  12. Good news Super Mario fans! The brand new game, Super Mario Odyssey for Nintendo Switch is a month away from being released (Oct. 27, 2017) and it looks impressive. But perhaps even better, Amazon is offering a great deal to all Prime members–if you pre-order Super Mario Odyssey you can save $12, bringing the price of the game down to $47.99 from $59.99. One thing of note: the discount only applies to the hardcopy version of the game. Unfortunately, if you just wanted the digital copy, it’ll still cost you $59.99. That being said, the digital copy is available to download and play at 12AM PST/3AM EST on Oct. 27 so if you wanted to stay up and play immediately, well, then that may be your best bet. It’s worth mentioning that according to Amazon if you pre-order the hardcopy you should receive it on launch day as well, but clearly, it won’t be showing up on your doorstep at 12AM. Anyway, pre-order here and save $12 on the latest Super Mario game. The post If you pre-order Super Mario Odyssey today you can save $12 appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  13. The future is promising for ecommerce with technology being the main driving force. Retailers and shoppers are gradually adopting augmented reality to enhance their business success. Besides virtual reality, augmented reality is unique on its own. It is dependent on consumer demand, market conditions, and high-quality devices. The 3 Merits AR will change the whole aspect of shopping. Shoppers will fit clothes before purchasing thus minimizing products from returning. Interestingly, they can fit furniture in their houses to ensure they have bought the right color. The following are the other benefits of augmented reality: Establishing an interactive buying experience Retailers prioritize engaging with a buyer throughout his/her purchasing journey. This technology conducts a test of the product’s functionality thus gaining the buyer’s confidence. Online shopping involves imagination without experiencing the product’s use or design. However, augmented reality overcomes this difficulty for the client. The buyer will feel accustomed with the product at the comfort of their home. The act of touching and seeing the applicability of the product will influence the buyer’s decision. Therefore, retailers will fulfill the buyer’s satisfaction without a doubt. If you want an online shopping excursion, a One Plus headset is suited for augmented reality and you can find if for only about 40 bucks on Amazon. Modify Selection Speculation is not an option with augmented reality’s services. Retailers give the shoppers what they want. Before buying a product, a buyer may want to view a product’s color selections or other designs. Online shopping offers limited customization options. However, AR and computer graphics make personalized modifications for the customer. The integration of augmented reality with physical stores has also enhanced sales. Brands are changing their packaging to include AR images. This allows a buyer to scan the image and have an amazing experience about the applicability of the product. Augmented reality has also transformed to become the omnichannel approach within the physical store. Customers make use of the AR stands to scan items and determine their end product, functionality, and a variety of colors. Visualize products Customers’ priority is in the interaction with the product before purchasing. This amazing technology allows shoppers to see the complexity of the product like electronics and appliances through animations. The future AR in the retail stores will consider advanced augmented reality technologies such as Augment’s SDK, which allows retailers to control AR through their brand platforms. Augment’s SDK is specifically designed to integrate into the retailer’s website or app seamlessly. It allows the retailers to leverage product visualization. This is necessary for providing the product’s value to the buyers while boosting conversions simultaneously. Augmented reality is amazing for both retailers and shoppers who want the best parts of a product. This technology is helping to solve problems of trying to figure out the features of a product. Augmented reality is creating the visualization of a product in a new dimension that will increase businesses’ success over time. Guiding Tips for Retailers The booming augmented technology is trending in all sectors. In the retail section, retailers are rushing towards owning an AR app to help them run their online sites. Before purchasing an AR app, retailers should consider the following tips: Provide a useful experience to a customer Before taking the step of investing in AR, you should consider the kind of products you are offering. AR is a perfect platform for delivering incredible value for your products. This technology is meant to offer your customers an amazing experience before purchasing them, for instance, cosmetic products. Allow shoppers to customize A shopper’s preference should be the basis of a retailer. By allowing them to have a personalized shopping experience, you are gaining their loyalty and regularity. You can employ a knowledgeable supervisor who has a wealth of knowledge about a customer’s size, style, and preference. Surprisingly, the AR technology can deliver personalized services to many customers. Shoppers are often longing to try out a new model, a different color, or the latest design. Augmented reality will satisfy their unending demands and make the retailer richer. Add originality to the retail Physical stores and online sites are always competing to be on the top of the business world. An online retailer should be jubilating because they have the right tool for running their business. Incorporating AR will give you a unique yet profiting start. Nowadays, shoppers do an online shopping exploration before ordering the products. Retailers should also be innovative with their products. This is because of the many online retails stores existing that compete for uniqueness. A little touch of novelty with AR is a good way of satisfying your customers while making big profits. In conclusion, the incorporation of augmented reality with ecommerce has a bright future. Shoppers get to interact with the products before purchasing. Retailers are profiting from this technology and are meeting customer needs. The post How augmented reality is going to transform ecommerce appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  14. Let me start off by saying I waited pretty much an entire year before succumbing to the urge to buy a pair of AirPods. I’ve never liked Apple’s headphones, the EarPods are terrible and the ones before EarPods were god awful. But, everyone has been clamoring that AirPods are different, much better even. During the last hour of my 4+ hours waiting in line at the Apple Store in SoHo this past Friday for the release of the Apple Watch Series 3 (which I also bought and will have more on soon), I counted about 15 people who walked by me wearing AirPods. The guy in front me, who I befriended while in line, also had AirPods. Enough was enough. Before I left the Apple Store, I decided to ask if they had AirPods in stock. To my surprise, they did (they’ve been extremely hard to get ahold of). At that moment I made the split second decision to buy them. I rushed home almost more excited to try the AirPods than my brand new Apple Watch Series 3. After setting up my Apple Watch Series 3, I opened the AirPods. The pairing process for AirPods is pretty magical. All you have to do is open the sleek white [battery] case (which is where you charge your AirPods when you’re not using them), take each AirPod out, and pop them in your ears. AirPods will seamlessly transition between devices too, so you could connect them to your iPhone and then start using your iPad and want to connect them there, simply select them in the Bluetooth settings on your iPad and they will connect. The same process can be applied for your Mac or Apple Watch–it’s a very smooth experience. This experience is all thanks to the custom designed Apple W1 chip which is in the AirPods. You will see this graphic when you open the AirPods case near your iOS devices.The Magic Apple really got it right when it comes to easily pairing AirPods with your devices, but perhaps even more importantly, they figured out how to get two independent speakers to work in unison–all the time. That’s a really hard nut to crack and they did it. I’m also currently reviewing the Jaybird Run true wireless headphones which are Jaybird’s answer to AirPods and man, well, let’s just say it’s clearly not easy to do what Apple has done here. In my few days with the AirPods, they rarely ever dropped connection with whatever device I had them connected to (iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch). If they did, it was likely due to me fussing with them in my ears (more on that in a bit) and it was just for a split second. It’s pretty incredible the amount of technology packed into these tiny little things. They are small and very lightweight (each one weighs only 0.14 ounces), making them ideal for people who are constantly on the go. Speaking of technology, going back to the W1 chip for a second, AirPods use optical sensors and a motion accelerometer to detect when they are in your ears. This means you can easily take one AirPod out and leave the other in and the one in your ear will continue to route audio appropriately. It’s really pretty cool. The last bit of magic is noticeable when you are on a call or talking to Siri. Apple has built in an additional accelerometer that works with beamforming microphones to filter out background noise and focus on the sound of your voice. This works really well. I did several calls while using the AirPods and each person thought I sounded crystal clear. Additionally, my Siri tests to adjust the volume and change the song playing worked flawlessly (even when I was on a busy street in NYC). Battery Life Apple claims up to 5 hours of battery with AirPods, but if you have the case handy, you can extend the life of your AirPods to 24 hours. What’s also nice is that AirPods charge pretty quickly, if you find yourself with nearly dead AirPods, stick them in the case for about 15 minutes you just bought yourself 3 additional hours of battery life. In my experience, I’ve found these claims to be right on and haven’t felt battery starved at all. Sound Quality I’m a bit of an audio snob but I was pleasantly surprised by the AirPods. For what they are, they offer adequate sound quality–they are certainly better than their predecessors, the EarPods. I’d say they are actually light years better than EarPods sound wise so chances are they are good enough for most people. The bass is even a bit punchier than I expected. The Problems Ok, so, no doubt that AirPods are awesome. I do have one qualm and one major issue though. First, the qualm, I wish they had more gesture based controls–for example, swiping up on the stem to raise the volume or swiping down to lower it. I don’t like how heavily reliant on Siri they are. That being said, you can obviously adjust the volume, change the song, etc from your device too, so it’s not the end of the world. Now, the major issue: only my left AirPod stays in my ear adequately. No matter what I do to adjust my right AirPod, it is in constant need of adjustment in my ear within one minute of the last adjustment. I’m not sure how common this is, I’m not sure if my ears are just weird (they probably are) and not the same, but it is certainly frustrating. If anyone has any thoughts on how I can remedy this (short of plastic surgery–can they even reshape your inner ear?) I’d love to hear them in the comments. Conclusion So far based on my experience with truly wireless headphones, Apple’s AirPods are certainly the best ones out there. That being said, due to their standardized one-size-fits-all design and lack of first party ear adjusters/fins, there is a possibility they will not play (pun intended) well with your ears. The only way to know for sure is to try them yourself. Fortunately, you can go to an Apple Store and ask to try on AirPods (be sure to walk around the store at varied speed) and they will be more than happy to help you out before you plop down $159 on a pair. The post AirPods review: the best wireless headphones that don’t work for me appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article
  15. So like me you bought that brand new shiny Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular and couldn’t wait to get it setup. You go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap on Cellular only to be greeted by the following message: AT&T does not currently support Apple Watch. This obviously isn’t true you think to yourself, they were listed as a launch day carrier. Well, after spending about an hour or so on the phone I found out that AT&T is having trouble activating Apple Watches that weren’t sold by AT&T–meaning if you bought your Series 3 directly from Apple you can’t get it activated…yet. I’m told by AT&T that a fix will be deployed by some time tomorrow which will remedy this issue. So in the meantime, hang tight and keep your iPhone with you as you can’t untether just yet. The post AT&T is having trouble activating Apple Watch Series 3 appeared first on BestTechie. View the full article