iPhone Battery Saving Tips

How is the battery on your iPhone? Do you find that it’s running out of power long before your day is done? This is one of the most common problems I hear. The first thing that most complainers of a “bad battery” state to me is that “I hope my battery isn’t going bad”. The good news is that very often it is not the battery that is bad – but a problem with one of the apps or settings on your phone.

The challenge here is that you need to be a detective to figure out what is draining your battery. I have some things you can try if you are a victim of a “bad battery” on your iPhone.

Lets take a look at some things you can do to improve the battery life of your iPhone before you drop hard earned cash on a new one.

First head over to Settings > Battery and take a look at the Battery Usage list. Tap anywhere on the list to change it from showing percentages to also show you a breakdown of how much screen time and background time the running apps are taking.

What to do if your iPhone has a battery drain issue
Battery Usage screen in iOS

Remember that while some apps — the Music app for example — are designed to work in the background, most apps are not and could be the cause of the problem.

While you’re here also look to see if you have No Cell Coverage on the list. If this is responsible for high battery usage then you’ve found your problem — being out of cell coverage or in an area with poor coverage. If this figure is high, try putting the iPhone into Airplane Mode when cell coverage is poor (you can still turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth independently) and see if that helps.

If you notice an app with unexplained high background usage then you may have solved your problem. Go into Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn off background refresh for that specific app.

After you’ve done this it is a good idea to check to see if the battery drain issue is any better by repeating the tests you carried out here. If things are now good, then you’re done. If things are better then look for another app that may be working in the background where it shouldn’t and switch that off too. And if things are no better, undo the change you made previously.

Push Email

Another feature that could be draining your battery is push email, which can actually prevent your iPhone from going to sleep properly.

Head over to Settings > Mail > Accounts > Fetch New Data and temporarily disable push and see if that helps. If you have multiple email accounts coming to your handset then you can click on them separately and disable push separately and see if that works.

I find that push works well for iCloud accounts but routinely causes problems with other third-party email providers.

Get your apps under control

Apps can have an indirect effect on battery life in a couple of ways.

  • Working in the background.
  • Popping up notifications

This is why you need to get your apps under control. Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Delete apps you are not using
  • For apps that you don’t use much, disable features such as notifications (Settings > Notifications), background refresh (Settings > General > Background App Refresh), and also location services (Settings > Privacy > Locations Services).

If all else fails…

If none of the above helped you narrow down the battery drain problem you are facing then you’re down to a few final options:

  • Wipe your iPhone and either reinstall everything from a backup (which risks bringing the problem back) or setting it up from scratch (which is time consuming).
  • Take your iPhone to an Apple Store and let the Geniuses attempt to fix it by laying their healing hands on it.
  • Carry a portable battery pack with you to recharge during the day. This can be a great cost saving solution that at least will allow you to save some time before going out any buying a new phone.

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BigKeys for Big Hands On Your iPhone

If you are like me you sometimes wish that either the keyboard on your iPhone was bigger or that your hands were smaller. While I can’t really help you with the size of your hands I can give you a tip how to make your iPhone Keyboard a little bigger.

Now that’s a keyboard I can work with!

If the size of the keys on the built in iPhone keyboard has ever caused you frustration I have an app for you try out.

Because iOS supports third-party keyboards there are a couple of good solutions out there for replacing the built-in keyboard. One of my favorite keyboards for the iPhone is Microsoft’s Wordflow. I have written about this nifty little keyboard a couple of times and you can check out those articles here if you are interested. However if all you really need is an app that gives you bigger keys on your keyboard I might just have a solution for you.

If you are looking to increase the size of your keyboard check out Big Keys. It’s an iOS app normally worth $2.99 but is free at the moment. Big Keys lets you increase the size of the keyboard keys. It works best in landscape mode but it does help in portrait mode as well.

How to Try out Big Keys

Download and install Big Keys from the App Store. You then need to add the app as a keyboard. Open the Settings app. Go to General>Keyboard, and add a new keyboard. From the list of keyboards, select Big Keys.

Next, open any app that you can type in. Tap the globe key and select ‘Big Key’ from the available keyboards to switch to it.

You will also need to open the app (it has it’s own icon) to customization the text & emoji sizes.

This app is not perfect but it is simple and may help if you have trouble with the keyboard size.

Good Luck if you give it a try!

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iOS 11 Looks to Save Lives

What took so long for this…

When you’re driving, it’s all too easy to become distracted by a notification popping up on your smartphone.

But that distraction could soon be a thing of the past with Apple’s latest iOS update.

Image result for driving texting

Apple announced yesterday at its WWDC conference that it is launching a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature that will automatically prevent notifications from popping up when it senses that you are in the car. I applaud this new feature and hope to see it in all mobile devices sooner then later.

The feature will be rolled out worldwide as part of Apple’s iOS 11 update later this fall.

The announcement of the feature comes just six months after Apple was sued for not including one like it.

The case involved a fatal car accident that was caused by a driver who was using FaceTime at the time of the crash.

Do Not Disturb While Driving can detect when your phone is connected to a car using Bluetooth or a cable, or if the car is moving, and withhold any notifications that could distract you.

This includes text messages, WhatsApp messages and news updates.

The iPhone screen will also lock to prevent drivers from accessing their apps while driving.

The feature is optional for passengers in the car, who can choose to disable it if they would like.

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iOS 11 Will Force Retirement of Older iPhones

If you are using an older iPhone you may want to consider upgrading soon. It looks like Apple is pushing you in that direction.

Apple has officially announced its new iOS Image result for ios 1111, and since this update will only run on 64-bit devices, this means it’s the end of the life for some devices.

End of the Road includes:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 4

This means that the oldest Apple devices to support iOS 11 will be the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

iOS 11 will also mean the end of the road for all 32-bit apps. Any that are not updated by the time iOS 11 is released will stop working.

iOS 10 has a built-in feature for highlighting which apps are affected:

Settings > General > About > Applications > App Compatibility

iOS 11 will be available as a public beta for supported devices in July, and is scheduled for release in the fall. I will be installing the beta so that I can report to everyone what to expect.

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Fireball Threat Grows

A Chinese digital marketing company named Rafotech is behind a new wave of inter-connected adware families that found their way onto the computers of millions of users.

According to an extensive investigation, Check Point claims Rafotech has designed a very intrusive adware that hijacks people’s browsers with the primary purpose of redirecting traffic to fake search engines.

Image result for fireball adware

These fake search engines do nothing more than divert search queries through Google and Yahoo’s affiliate programs, earning the Chinese company a commission.

A Growing Fireball Threat

Rafotech spreads its adware by bundling it with legitimate software, sometimes without giving users the opportunity to opt-out of the installation.

This tactic has landed various of its adware strains on the computers of over 250 million computers, according to a rough estimation from Check Point’s team.

The most affected countries are India (25.3 million infections – 10.1%), Brazil (24.1 million – 9.6%), Mexico (16.1 million – 6.4%), and Indonesia (13.1 million – 5.2%). The US is also on the list with 5.5 million infections, accounting for 2.2% of the total global infection numbers.

To make this worse experts believe the adware made its way in over 20% of all corporate networks, which means that one in five companies has a computer infected with this adware, which Check Point nicknamed Fireball.

Fireball Brings Torjan Horse Threats With It

Once this adware reachs inside corporate networks the threat often evolves and make the situation much worse.

Check Point experts reported last week in a report that Fireball contains features that allow the Chinese company to push and execute any file (malware) to the victim’s computer.

Because the adware is so intrusive at the browser level, experts fear that its maintainers would have no technical impediment from switching from a revenue model that’s based on traffic redirection and ad injection to something that involves stealing user credentials.

Fake Search Engines

If you’re wondering how come you’ve never heard of a malware family that infected over 250 million computers, the explanation resides in the fact that Check Point refers to all the adware created by Rafotech as Fireball.

Adware strains like the one Rafotech create are usually referred to by the name of the site it redirects traffic to.

Some of these fake search engines to which Fireball adware strains redirect traffic can be found in the Alexa Top 10,000 most popular sites on the Internet. Some of these fake search engines receive so much traffic that a few managed to break into the Alexa Top 1,000 site list, well above many legitimate sites. This shows the massive scale of Rafotech’s operation.

Warning Signs of Infection

If your home page has changed or if you are continually sent to a weird search engine your PC is probably infected with some sort of adware or Trojan Horse.

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Skype Gets Big Update

Skype is getting its biggest face-lift in years, ditching its light-blue theme for a customizable interface and features aimed at the way young people communicate, from emojis to a Snapchat-like recap of the day.

In addition to the cosmetic changes being made by Microsoft, the update modernizes Skype’s underlying infrastructure, years in the making, in an effort to give the service the reliability needed to compete with upstarts in the crowded world of communications software.

Image result for skype reboot

The service’s former backbone — peer-to-peer connections that linked a caller to their target through a direct line — is being replaced in the update by Microsoft’s network of data centers. Some of users’ complaints about the service, including phantom notifications or calls that were missed entirely should – for the most part be resolved by this upgrade.

Skype, which Microsoft scooped up for $8.5 billion in 2011, was a pioneer in voice and video calls made over the internet, instead of wired telephone connections or cellular networks.

Today, such internet communications tools are commonplace, and some have lapped Microsoft’s product in usage.

Facebook Messenger and Facebook-owned WhatsApp each boast more than one billion users. China-focused QQ and WeChat aren’t far behind, and Google and Apple are both investing in communications tools tied to their expansive mobile platforms.

A year ago Microsoft said Skype had 300 million “monthly connected users,” little changed from 2013.

In addition to the new Snapchat-like “Highlights” feature that compiles recent photos and videos into a shareable reel, the update places greater emphasis on tools to find friends and quickly fires off emojis or reactions in response to chats and videos.

Automated chatbots, a push by Microsoft as it aims to build more intelligent software, have been given a prominent home in the new Skype. Through a text window, users can summon Expedia to search for flight prices, or ask StubHub about concert tickets. But that functionality remains limited, and many software developers are only now getting their hands on the tools to make such Skype bots.

The update will began going out late last week, first targeting mobile devices running Android and, afterward, iOS. The software is expected to make its way to the desktop edition this summer.

Skype’s workplace cousin, Skype for Business, isn’t affected by the change.

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OneLogin Hacked

Its the same old story all over again. Another online company has been hacked and thousands of accounts exposed. This time, ironically it was a “password manager” services company that was hacked.

Image result for onelogin hack

Password manager OneLogin suffered a massive data breach Wednesday, and the attackers may have gained access to sensitive customer data, such as login information for a variety of companies. OneLogin manages login credentials for a variety of cloud applications for more than 2,000 enterprise clients.

OneLogin has stated that its investigation is ongoing, wrote on its blog Wednesday that the attacker was able to access database tables that contain information about users, apps, and various types of keys. “While we encrypt certain sensitive data at rest, at this time we cannot rule out the possibility that the threat actor also obtained the ability to decrypt data,” the company wrote in a letter to clients.

The attack began on May 31 when a malicious actor somehow obtained access to a set of Amazon Web Services (AWS) keys and used them to access the AWS API from an intermediate host with another, smaller service provider in the U.S., according to the company.

Through the API, the attacker was then able to create several instances of the company’s IT infrastructure to probe the company’s system. The company said it was alerted to the unusual database activity seven hours later, at which point it shut down access to the affected instance and the AWS keys associated with it. The breach is thought to be enormous, as all of company’s data centers in the U.S. were hacked.

The possibility that the hacker may have obtained enough data to decrypt the encrypted credentials, meanwhile, could mean that thousands of businesses, including Yelp and Pinterest, may need to change their login information for every cloud service they use.

The details are still hazy, and OneLogin has yet to make a public announcement about exactly what data has been stolen. But in the meantime, the company has apparently contacted all of its clients to advise that they immediately reset any passwords stored on OneLogin’s servers.

This is not the first time that OneLogin has suffered a breach in recent months. The company also suffered a breach from July to August when an attacker using a OneLogin employee’s password was able hack its servers and access company analytics and logs.

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Parallel Universes Might Exist

The idea that we might be living in just one of an infinite number of universes is not a new scientific concept and scientific debate surrounding this possibility has been going on for decades. The idea that we may be living in just one of countless universes has also been a popular narrative in science fiction as well.

The crew of Star Trek’s Enterprise has encountered multiple universes in several occasions – always leading to complex & exciting adventures.

Up until recently provable evidence to support this theory has been hard to come by. Now, researchers have discovered something in space that they can’t quite account for, and one of the possible explanations is that our universe actually bumped into a neighboring, parallel one. That’s right our universe may have had a car crash with another universe.

What the Heck Happened?

When gazing into the heavens, scientists spotted what they refer to as a “cold” area of space. It was observed some time ago, and explaining it proved difficult. Originally a 2015 study suggested it was merely an area of the universe in which the number of galaxies is dramatically lower than the rest. However subsequent investigations couldn’t support that finding, and a new study by Durham University suggests the slim possibility that it’s actually evidence of parallel universes.

The multiverse theory hinges on the idea that all possible outcomes of any given scenario are all playing out at the same time in a layered reality of which we are only experiencing one of those layers. It’s a wild idea that has a foundation in quantum mechanics, but it’s also entirely unproven. But could it be true?

As the study suggests, the researchers believe the mysterious cold spot, while still totally unexplained, could actually be “the remnant of a collision between our universe and another ‘bubble’ universe during an early inflationary phase.” In short, if the idea is correct, our early universe collided with another young universe early on, causing something of a “bruise” which we are able to observe today.

Mind blowing isn’t it? Its looking more and more like we are not alone.

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Keyboard Tricks for Windows

Another quiet week in the tech world gives us some more time for actual technology tips. Lets look at some keyboard shortcuts you can use to make your life easier with Microsoft’s Windows.

High Contrast: SHIFT + ALT + PRINT

In its default setting, this shortcut opens a warning window before applying any changes. Click Yes or simply hit Return to switch to the high contrast setting.

This will enlarge the font on all open windows and change colors to high contrast. For example, the desktop will turn black, what was black text on white background before will be reversed. Clicking the same key combination again reverts the changes.

Switch Between Open Windows: ALT + TAB

This keyboard shortcut launches a layover window that shows all open programs. Hold onto the ALT key and click the TAB key to move to the next application. Release both keys to open the selected window.

You can reverse the direction by holding ALT + SHIFT while pressing the TAB key.

Delete Without Confirmation: SHIFT + DEL

Do you hate these nagging windows asking you whether you really want to do this or that. If you want to quickly delete something, without being harrassed for a confirmation, use this shortcut.

Do you want to make the instant delete route your default setting? Right click the Recycle Bin on your desktop, select Properties, and remove the checkmark next to Display delete confirmation dialog.

Show Desktop / Restore Open Windows: Windows key + D

Rather than moving your mouse into the bottom right corner of your screen to see your desktop, press this keyboard shortcut. Press it again to restore your windows exactly as they were before.

Lock System: Windows key + L

You should never leave your desktop unattended. Before you head out to the loo or to grab another coffee, press this keyboard shortcut to lock your system. When you return and log back in, all programs and windows will appear the way you left them.

Run Command Prompt as Administrator: Windows key + R, type cmd, hold CTRL + SHIFT, hit ENTER

This is one complex chain of commands. But if you manage to do it right, you’ll have instant Administrator access to the command prompt.

Unfortunately, this shortcut doesn’t seem to work anymore as of the Windows 10 Creators Update. Alternatively, press Windows key + X to open the Quick Access Menu, then use the UP/DOWN arrow keys to move the Command Prompt (Admin) entry, and hit ENTER.

Shut Down: Windows key + X, U, I / U / R / H / S

You can shut Windows down with a few button clicks. It all starts with Windows key + X to open the Quick Access Menu, followed by the U key to expand the Shut down or sign out options. Finally, press I to sign out, U to shut down, R to restart, H to hibernate, and S to sleep.

Create Your Own Desktop Keyboard Trick

Are there folders or applications you need a lot? Why not create your own keyboard shortcut to quickly access these tools.

Note: This will only work for shortcuts located on your desktop!

First you need to create an actual desktop shortcut. In Windows 10, this has become a little more tricks. Right-click on the application in its program folder or send it from the Start Menu to the Taskbar and SHIFT + right-click its Taskbar icon, then select Create Shortcut from the context menu.

Make sure the shortcut sits on your desktop. Now right-click the shortcut and select Properties. You should see a line that says Shortcut Key: None. Click that line and then click a letter on your keyboard, for example P. This will create a shortcut, here CTRL + ALT + P.

desktop shortcut

And there you go, now you have your own personal shortcut key.

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Fixing Adobe Acrobat in Windows 10

Life is good. Microsoft Edge is your new default web browsing experience on Windows 10, and it offers a new streamlined interface, speed improvements, and a lot of new features, including the ability to open PDF files. However there is where a problem emerges for some of us.

While the PDF reader is a convenient feature, it currently only offers some basic functionalities, and out-of-the-box, Windows 10 makes it your default system PDF reader whether you like it or not. If you prefer to use a more advanced application, such as SumatraPDF, Xodo, or Adobe Acrobat Reader, or after a Windows 10 upgrade your settings aren’t preserved, you may want to change your settings to disable Microsoft Edge as your default PDF reader every time you open a file.

Lets walk through the steps to change your system settings to stop opening PDF files in the web browser by default.

How to disable Microsoft Edge as default PDF reader

In order to disable Microsoft Edge’s PDF feature, you need to change the file association, which you can do with the following steps:

Using the Settings app
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click on Default apps.
    • Note: If you’re still running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the path is Settings > System > Default apps.
  4. Click the Choose default apps by file type link.
  5. Scroll down and find .pdf (PDF File), and click the button on the right side, which is likely to read “Microsoft Edge.”
  6. Select your app from the list to set it as the new default.
  7. Click the Switch anyway link to confirm the change.

Once you completed the steps, Microsoft Edge will no longer open PDF files by default in the web browser.

Using the file context menu

Alternatively, you can quickly make another app as your default PDF reader, using the following steps:

  1. Right-click a PDF file.
  2. Select Open With.
  3. Click on Choose another app.
  4. Select the PDF application you want to use.
  5. Check the Always use this app to open .pdf files option.
  6. Click OK.

If you don’t see the app you want to use in the list, click the More apps link at the bottom of the list. You can also click the Look for another app on this PC to find the PDF application you want to set as default.

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