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September 16, 2018 - Episode 508 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, Apple wasn't completely honest in their presentation, Nintendo isn't completely in sync with their customers and Netflix wants to recommend a complete solution for producers.

Introducing Nehbur: A Fantastic New App for Rentals (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Have you ever found yourself in need of something for whatever project you are working on and just don't have it? Now there is a platform for sharing items with your neighbors that they or you don't need or use all the time. It's called Nehbur, co-founded by Chris Reel from Canada.

Nehbur is a rental platform designed to provide items to share by renting or selling to your neighbors and friends. The purpose is to try to bring neighbors and communities together in a symbiotic manner. One example is given by Chris. He told of a time when he saw for sale an electronic drum set. He, being an avid drummer, was blown away by the sale price of $100. when they usually go for at least $1400. He called and asked if there was something wrong with the set. The girl told him that there was nothing wrong, but she just had to make her rent. He realized that if she rented the drum set out over and over she would make more than her rent, and possibly recoup her cost of the set AND she would get to keep it! The idea for Nehbur was born.

Another very good example is when the PLuGHiTz Live team arrived at Collision and found out we were without monitors. We had to immediately have a late-night road trip to purchase some. If this app had been available, we could have rented them from someone local instead. We were not alone with this problem. The Nehbur team itself had to locate a screen for their booth at Collision.

This obviously-needed is not yet available but should be in the near future. For more information on this important app, go to their website.

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Kano Computer Kit Touch - Episode 176 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the most recent products he has had the opportunity to review: the Kano Computer Kit Touch. In March, Avram introduced us to the Kano Computer Kit, and this new model addresses one of the issues identified in the previous model: a lack of touchscreen. Most kids expect a screen to be touchable and making a kids device that required a keyboard and mouse was not a completely natural pairing. While the new model does bring touch, it does not bring touch-friendly capabilities to the platform in all places. Avram expects this to be addressed over time.

Apple Event: Misinformation, Misconceptions and Missing Products

This week was Apple's annual iPhone announcement event and the company did what it does best - talk about their products like there's never been anything like them in the history of man. Of course, everyone knows that it's simply hyperbole because almost all phones on the market are exactly like it - often times better than it. While hyperbole involves a small level of misinformation, or at the very least a rewriting of the scale of information, Apple took it to a new level this year.

Misinformation

If you watched the announcement livestream, you noticed there were a couple of points where Apple announced seemingly improbable features and accomplishments. The first and most misleading of these announcements involved the FDA and Apple Watch. With the words that Apple Watch's ECG technology had been cleared by the FDA, the room went nuts. It certainly sounds like an exciting step for a company who doesn't make medical products. However, that is exactly what they said - the FDA does not consider it to be a medical quality product. In fact, "cleared" means almost nothing when it comes to the FDA. According to Apple, they have actually received "a De Novo classification by the FDA" which means that the FDA simply considers the device to be of low risk in its existence, not that it has any medical use or that its data is accurate. The ECG app on the Apple Watch does not do any analysis, it simply allows you to give data to a medical professional, which is why the FDA says that the device is unlikely to cause harm. There are scenarios, however, where it can.

Another statement that was made that sounded like it meant something different from what it meant involved the screen on the iPhone. A casual mention of the iPhone screen's 120Hz refresh rate suggested that the phone's screen had a 120Hz refresh rate. That would have put the device on par with the Razer Phone and would have been a feature welcomed by photographers, videographers, editors and gamers alike. This would have set the iPhone apart from its competition and would have been an actual game changer for Apple. Unfortunately, the refresh rate on the iPhone screen is 60Hz and, instead, the touch sensor's refresh rate is 120Hz. This is not only not a game changer, it is not a change from last year's iPhone X.

Missing Features

It is official - Apple is 100% done with the headphone jack. No iPhone currently available from the company features the last standard connector that Apple included on its mobile devices. iPhone users are now stuck with using a Lightning to headphone adaptor, using headphones with a DAC built-in (like the Monster Elements) or going full Bluetooth. DAC-enabled headphones are few and far between and are not inexpensive. Bluetooth headphones have their problems - the biggest being the requirement to charge. If your battery dies so does the music.

Adapters are not great because they easily get lost or damaged, but at least Apple includes the adapter in the box. Or, should I say they used to. Starting now, no more adapters included with iPhones. If you want to continue using your favorite headphones with your new iPhone, you had better already have the adapter or shell out another $9. Definitely a disappointment.

Missing Product

Last year, along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple announced that they had officially accepted the industry standard of wireless charging - Qi. Both of these devices support charging via Qi, marking the final major manufacturer to get on board with this feature. Like many handset manufacturers, in addition to a device that charges using Qi, they also showed off a Qi charger: AirPower. Like many other Qi chargers on the market, AirPower had multiple charging coils and was designed to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods.

Despite the fact that there was literally nothing special about the product, it was mysteriously delayed. Time. And. Again. In fact, it has still not been released. Even more importantly, it was not mentioned at this year's event at all. Being delayed for over a year now, and with absolutely no mention of the product at their event this year, we can assume that Apple has given up on AirPower. Maybe thye saw what everyone else saw - there was nothing special about the product and therefore had no way to upcharge for it. All we know is that it is nowhere to be seen.

The Amazing Race for Space is Easily Solved with Win-Kel (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Imagine that you are a college student and your dorm is closing for the summer. You have a big problem of where to store your stuff. The choices are limited. You can either rent an expensive storage unit or if you are lucky, you can find a friend with available space to rent. This is what happened to Yoshi Tsuji and Win-Kel was created. Win-Kel is a company that is like an Airbnb for storage space rental, either as a lessor or a lessee.

In the marketplace, you can find people who either have space that they are looking to rent out or people who need that space. The cost is a lot less than the price of commercial storage spaces. You only have to pay for the specific size you need, such as a 3x7 rather than a 5x10. Besides the example of the college student, another scenario is if you have traveled to a convention site and after your business is done you want to explore the area. What do you do with your things such as your big table? That is what Win-Kel is perfect for. You can choose to travel around for any number of days you want and those are the number of days you pay for, no more days than what you need. Other companies would lock you into a pricey monthly contract. Win-Kel totally frees you up to enjoy the area without worrying about getting back before your contract is up.

Win-Kel is partnering with Google now and they want to go international within 2 years. The app is available now for Android and iOS and listings can be created and found nationally now. For more information go to their website.

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AT Now Allows You to Hire a Tutor On-Demand as a Problem Arises (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

If you are not a math person, you know that getting through a math class in school can be challenging. Even more challenging is getting help for that class when you need it. Luckily, there's AT Now, a platform designed specifically to help students find math tutoring help when they need it. The instant-on capability of the platform means that when you're having trouble with a particular math problem, you can jump onto the platform, request assistance and be paired up with a live tutor to help you work through your block.

AT Now, which is founded by Mike Arnold who has been working in the tutoring field for a while, spent time finding highly qualified math tutors to work for the platform. The tutors, in addition to a high level of mathematics knowledge, also have to be personable and encouraging, traits that he found work best in his facility. Many of the tutors are math or business students from colleges and universities and try to show empathy to the student's problem and situation. For example, a tutor who understands the pressure of preparing for a test tomorrow is going to be more effective than one who doesn't.

For the students, the process is fairly simple. If they encounter a math problem that they cannot resolve themselves, they can simply grab their phone or tablet, open up the app and request help. From there, one of the tutors will jump on a call with the student and help them, not just answer the problem, but understand how to get to the answer. All of this and the cost is unbelievably inexpensive: $20 per month for unlimited questions. That's less than the cost of a single hour of personal tutoring in most locations.

To find out more about the platform, check out their website.

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September 2, 2018 - Episode 507 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, Sprint and T-Mobile are finally coming together, Sony is keeping PlayStation apart, and the Federal Trade Commission might be going down a familiar road.

Enabling Dark Mode - Episode 175 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch shows you how to enable Dark Mode across a variety of platforms on your PC. The feature has come out of the darkness in the past year, with many developers building the feature into their software, even on the web. Windows has supported the feature since Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8, but the capability is gaining wide adoption now. Luckily, Avram's got the process for Windows, Skype, Microsoft Word and more.

T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Receives Surprising Apathy to FCC

Whenever a merger is proposed, there will always be opposition, no matter how innocuous the transaction seems. Whether it be the federal government questioning the validity of the merger, local government unhappy with the results, competitors afraid of the competition or interest groups who fear change, you can be certain that someone will object. The important question is always, how many of these oppositions will have an effect on the proposal.

For the most part, the organizations that will always object will usually be ignored. It's the modern version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, where regulators can never tell if the threat being posed is credible because the organization is always claiming false threats. In addition, organizations, like competitors, who have a vested interest in the failure of the merger, will likewise usually be ignored. Impartiality is nearly impossible when it's in your best interest to sabotage.

The most recent merger announcement of Sprint and T-Mobile, which was rumored for over a year and announced in August, was bound to draw attention. After all, the failed AT&T/T-Mobile merger was one of the most watched merger processes of the decade. Following the announcement, the FCC received over 500 filings in regards to the proposition, and the results have been surprising. As expected, the normal groups opposed it, but we know the FCC doesn't take that too seriously.

What is surprising is the lack of objections from some of the sources you would expect. Most surprisingly, consumers seem to be excited about this merger. This merger would take the #3 and #4 US wireless carriers and turn them into the #2 wireless carrier, behind Verizon. With Sprint and T-Mobile's history of creating low-priced subscriptions that consumers like, the combined company seems to excite consumers, who overwhelmingly support the merger.

In addition to consumers, competitors seem to have no vocal opposition to the merger. Verizon and AT&T, who would be displaced from their #2 position if the merger is finalized, seem to have taken no position on the merger at all. That speaks volumes, considering competitors, especially ones who will lose their market position, usually find something to object about in these cases. This merger, however, seems to have either left them speechless or with nothing to take issue about.

This is not to say there is no opposition. Dish Network filed a complaint, claiming that if the merger is approved, they will have trouble purchasing components to build their own wireless network.

While DISH plans to aggressively upgrade and expand that network to full 5G in the future, the timing of the transition will crucially depend on, among other things, scarce inputs (e.g., radios, devices and chipsets) that the merger could make scarcer still.

This complaint is unlikely to make a difference, however, as the manufacturers of those components are unlikely to let a sale get away and will simply make more of the needed components. This will not be an easy merger, but with so little opposition from outside of the government, it will be far easier than T-Mobile's last try.

LifePoints Rewards You for Making Healthy Decisions (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Leading a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what is a healthy decision, and often times the unhealthy choice gives a greater immediate reward than the healthy decision. For example, eating a few slices of barbeque brisket is likely to give a much greater immediate reward than eating a salad. But, there is a new way to begin to receive rewards for making healthy decisions: LifePoints.

Through this system, people can receive points for making healthy decisions. In the beginning, the app is focusing on fitness decisions, such as going to the gym. The app will track how long you spend at the gym and give you points based on that time. With time, the company plans to bring additional options to the platform to continue encouraging healthy decision making. Once you have these points, you can exchange them for rewards at various partners. These partners can give discounts or merchandise, depending on the partner and points redeemed.

This system is designed to provide a positive feedback loop for users to encourage them to make the healthy choice, rather than the unhealthy choice. To return to the previous example, you might be more likely to eat the salad instead of the barbeque if you know that you can get a discount on your gym membership or clothing.

The service is currently available for testing in the Niagra region of Canada, with two partners: Popeye's Supplements and Sky Zone Trampoline Park. If you are in that area, and currently own an iPhone, you can try the app right now in the App Store and start earning points to improve your health. The company plans to expand the partner lineup and expand the regions available as they conclude their testing.

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