Tech Tips

October 10, 2019

Apple iPhone 11 Boasts Major Camera Improvements

The Apple iPhone 11 boasts some significant camera improvements over the X. One question to ask when deciding whether to upgrade is, “How much do you need an amazing camera?”

If the answer is “a lot,” then the 11 might be for you. The 11 has three lenses instead of two (boasting wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto views) and all have been upgraded from 7 megapixels to 12. This means every photo is crisper and less grainy, even when blowing up a telephoto shot. AND, just on the horizon is Deep Fusion, a new image processing technique that Apple designers promise will improve detail in low and medium light.

(Hardy Telecommunications does not sell mobile phones or accessories, and the company does not officially endorse any particular brand of cellphone. For more information about the Apple iPhone 11, including technical specifications, click HERE.)

October 3, 2019

Other Cellphone Uses on Airplanes

Mid-air cellular calls are being allowed on some international flights, but many flight attendants, pilots, and even middle-seat passengers would rather not deal with the distraction (confined space + loud talker = worst trip ever). So, what can you do with your phone besides talk on it once you turn Airplane Mode on?

– Power up. Most flights have outlets built right into the seats. Take the opportunity to charge while you’re in your seat. It could be a long trip from the gate to your hotel!

– Text. Just remember not to use your cell network. Instead, use a messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger that transmits using Wifi.

– Pay. Gone are the days of free peanuts and ginger ale. Keep your phone handy for when the beverage cart rolls by. Many airlines accept Apple Pay, Google Cash, and other mobile payment methods.

September 26, 2019

Cellphones at 30,000 Feet

Just a few years ago, flight attendants forced us to stow our phones for our entire flight. Then came the advent of Airplane Mode and now we can do almost anything on our phones — except use cellular service to make voice calls or text — from takeoff to landing. But is it really safe?

Yes! There has never been an instance of a signal from a cellphone on board a plane endangering a flight or interfering with a pilot’s instruments or communications.

So, why use Airplane Mode at all? Think of it as a courtesy for your non-flying friends on the ground. The higher a plane gets, the more towers and satellites the signal has the potential to bounce off. This can congest the network for other users. And, in addition to being gentle with your network, you may also save yourself a pile of cash because not turning on Airplane Mode can force your phone (or tablet) into Roaming Mode, which can incur hundreds of dollars by the time you reach your long distance destination!

September 20, 2019

Bring the Game To Go!

Gimme a C! Gimme an Ellphone! What’s it Spell?

Here we are in week two of both the NFL and college football seasons, and where once we were glued to our TVs for the next five months, we’re now glued to our cellphones as well. We use our cellphones to check scores, shuffle fantasy football rosters, make bets, watch instant replays, and connect with fellow fans (or hearty competitors). How has this changed our sports viewing experience?

So many ads! Every app, every sports news site, and certainly every betting site takes advantage of your fanhood to reach you when you are at your most captive.

Loyalty is rewarded. Lots of apps provide loyalty programs that provide access to discounted tickets and merchandise as well as premium content.

We stay connected. Sure, you can call your mom, the die-hard Packer fan, after the game, but it’s more fun to send her a video of an Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown on Instagram, moments after it happens.

The NFL gives us more. From instant replay following big plays, to digital (real-time) markup of screens, to delivering stats and scores directly to your phone, watching football today is a whole new ballgame.

August 29, 2019

Tools For Good

Once upon a time, we waited all summer to be reunited with friends on the first day of school. Today, kids are able to stay in touch with friends through FaceTime, Messenger, SnapChat and a dozen other apps that make chatting, well, a snap. Now that school is starting though, parents may want to transform their kids’ phones into tools for good! Here are some apps that will help:

1. StudyBlue – Helps create virtual flashcards

2. Cozi – Develops color-coded schedules families can use to stay on top of activities

3. Duolingo – Uses video game-style learning to teach foreign languages

4. Studious – Manages class schedules, tracks homework assignments, and alerts students when a deadline is approaching

August 22, 2019

Back to School Sleep Cheat Sheet

Summer is a free for all when it comes to schedules, especially sleep schedules. But studies have shown that academic performance and overall health improve with regular, deep sleep, and that the blue light emitted by TVs, laptops, and cellphones slows the release of melatonin, disrupting peaceful sleep. A few tips for ensuring that sleep gets as much attention as studying this year:

1. Set a Do Not Disturb so no calls or texts can be received too late.

2. Use your Settings to schedule a change in screen light from blue to warmer hues at least two hours before bedtime.

3. Charge your phone in the kitchen and use an alarm clock in the bedroom instead. This ensures a physical break from messages and alerts and eliminates the chance that random bursts of light will disrupt sleep.

August 8, 2019

Staying Connected During Storm Season

As we near the middle of hurricane, late summer storm, and even tornado season, it’s important to plan for the worst. While there’s not much we can do about power lines and cell towers, you CAN stay connected and powered up even during bad weather.

Stay charged up! Especially if you know extreme weather is coming, charge your phone whenever you drop below 50%. Charge your laptop and keep a phone charger handy so that when your phone dies, you can charge it on your laptop. Buy a power pack so that even when you’re cut off for hours at a time, you’ve got power!

Also, we rely so heavily on apps that make life easy but require a ton of power (think Maps or Waze) that we forget there are analog alternatives. If you think you’re going to have to evacuate, use Google Maps to plot your evacuation route and print your directions. If there’s a chance you’ll need a hotel out of town, don’t wait to book it. Find a few options, make sure you can cancel if you don’t need the room, and book. Print your confirmation numbers as well as contact numbers for the hotel so you can confirm or cancel on the road.

Stay connected! We don’t remember one another’s numbers these days, so make sure to jot down a few important numbers – including your boss’s and an emergency contact who lives outside your immediate area. Text a friend or family member before you evacuate and include your time of departure, anticipated time of arrival, and route. Even if you lose connectivity, loved ones will have a general idea of your whereabouts. And finally, if cell towers fail you but wifi lives on, reach out to emergency contacts (and friends) using apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Messenger.

Stay safe and don’t let the weather get you down!

August 1, 2019

Know Before You Download

Be honest. Have you ever read a Privacy Statement start to finish before installing a new app? Most people will answer “no” and the result can range from the irritating to the devastating. Millions of people signed away permission to their photos by saying “Yes” to the FaceApp. Still more give their location to seemingly innocuous weather apps that go on to sell not just your location but your commuting and purchasing habits (based on your location). Even multi-player gaming apps log (with your permission) your location, age, Facebook ID, friends list, and any messages you exchange with fellow gamers.

While privacy has certainly taken a backseat to entertainment and commerce, reviewing Privacy Statements more thoroughly may protect you from truly malicious intent. So next time you’re about to install the next best app, read the Privacy Statement thoroughly and then decide what is more important: the privacy of your location, contacts, and communications OR seeing what you’ll look like at 85.

July 18, 2019

When Cell Phones Take the Summer Off

Noticed your cellphone slowing down? Don’t despair. Cleaning house by deleting the following will have your phone flying again:
1. Old photos, videos, and text messages
2. Apps you rarely use (including pre-loaded apps or ones that run in the background)
3. Your cache
4. Internet cookies, history, and data

Remember to back up what’s important to you before deleting, and don’t delete any apps necessary to run vital functions on your phone!

If deleting stored items and apps doesn’t have a great effect on the speed of your cellphone, you might need to dig a little deeper. Most of these functions can be completed in the Settings menu:
1. Reduce the brightness of your screen.
2. Ensure software is up to date, but disable the “Automatic Updates” function.
3. Change your wallpaper from “live” to “static.”
4. Turn off Bluetooth or Wifi when you don’t need it.
5. Choose “Reduce Motion” in settings so that apps just pop on instead of using unnecessary effort and power to launch.

July 11, 2019

Protect Your Tech Devices From Summer Heat

Summer is great for lots of things, but laptop health is not one of them. When outside temperatures approach 100 degrees, the inside of your car can reach up to 170 degrees, spelling absolute doom for your laptop. Avoid leaving laptops (or cellphones) in a hot car for more than a few minutes, and let them cool down before you turn them on. 

Try these tips to keep your machine cool all year long:
– Shut it down before putting it in a case. Even “sleep” mode creates heat. 
– Always set up on a flat, hard surface. Soft surfaces like sofas or even your lap don’t allow for proper air flow.
– Check the vents on the bottom and blow out (or pull out with tweezers) dust or debris.
– Keep devices separate. They all put off heat, so ensure you have some space between them.

June 28, 2019

On This Day in Technology

June 28, 1955 – Clarenville, Newfoundland – On this date, the world’s largest cable-laying ship, the HMTS Monarch, laid the very first foot of the TAT-1 telephone cable that would ultimately connect North America to Europe. By September 1956, two lines (one for each direction) ran from Clarenville to Oban, Scotland, and were able to relay a whopping 35 phone calls in either direction. This simple beginning would one day support the incredibly important “hot line” from the U.S. to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

People were able to communicate with their European friends from as early as 1858 when a transatlantic telegraph cable was laid, and via a radio-based telephone service that launched in 1927, but calls were outrageously expensive (about $45 for a 3-minute call—over $550 in today’s dollars!). So this technology wasn’t feasible for the average American.

But, with the advent of the coaxial cable and polyethylene insulation in the 1940s, the prospect of burying cable on the ocean floor that would not degrade or lose signal became real.

The TAT-1 cables were over 1,500 nautical miles long and were laid with precision by several ships and submarines. The system continued to operate without incident until 1978 when it was replaced by a number of additional cables.

Ten years after this momentous project began, the very first signal bounced off a satellite, thereby launching global communications into a new era.

June 25, 2019

Spring Cleaning Your Tech

You wash dishes every day. You do your laundry once a week. And every spring, you clean out the garage, get rid of old clothes, throw wide the windows and let in the breeze that blows the winter cobwebs away. But what’s the one place you spend most of your time that rarely gets this royal treatment? Your laptop! So this season, spring clean your machine like this:

1.      Tidy your desktop. Just like a real desk, you’ll always feel more productive if you start with a clean slate, so delete any shortcuts or files you never use. Organize the files you do use into folders and back up everything in the cloud or on an external drive.

2.      Purge the apps. In Settings>Apps and Features, remove any programs you no longer use.  Anything you haven’t used in 6 months is probably safe for removal.

3.     Update protection. This means installing or updating antivirus software and spyware to protect against malware and adware that can slow the speed of your machine (or worse).

4.      Update applications. We often avoid taking the time to make regular or scheduled updates, but as part of your spring cleaning, click the UPDATES AVAILABLE banners on that pop up on your most often used applications. 

5.      Clear the cache. Your internet browser holds a lot of data you may only need once, so clear the cache of unnecessary files, cookies, history, and plug-ins that can slow progress. You may lose some passwords that typically autofill, but the benefits of a swifter browsing experience outweigh the frustration of creating a new password. You should also review your Downloads folder. Since many files open automatically from your browser, the Downloads folder may fill up without your even noticing.

6.      Dump your trash. When you’ve finished purging files, shortcuts, downloads, and unused applications, right-click your Recycle Bin icon and select Empty Recycle Bin.

7.      Dust it.  Dust and other particles can get into the nooks and crannies of your machine, causing keys to stick. Regularly, give the keys a blast of compressed air and run a soft cloth over the screen. Never spray liquid directly onto the machine.

June 19, 2019

Wifi 101

Bandwidth – The more devices you have connected to the internet wirelessly through a router, the more your bandwidth is spread out over multiple connections, which can result in slower speeds for each individual device. To learn more about how your number of wireless devices can impact their internet connection speed, watch this new Hardy video: HardyNet Wifi 101: Bandwidth.

Wifi 101

Router Placement – Correct router placement plays a huge part in how well your wireless devices stay connected and their connection speed. To learn what factors to consider in placing a router, watch this new Hardy video: HardyNet Wifi 101: Router Placement.

Security 101

Phishing Awareness – Many hackers first gain access to your computer or device through phishing emails – that is, emails that trick you into clicking malicious links or visiting websites that contain malware. Once that malware is downloaded to your device, hackers will look for confidential information or even control your device. Learn the signs of a phishing email by watching this new Hardy video: HardyNet Security 101: Phishing Awareness.