Monthly Archives September 2018

Why it’s important to keep current with device updates

It can be annoying when your smartphone, laptop or tablet sends you repetitive notifications about those pesky software updates. They are easy to ignore, rather than taking the time out of your day to update. If you are one of the many people who do this – because we know you aren’t alone – Popular Science has some advice for you.

In an article attempting to convince you not to ignore these updates, Popular Science says, “Gadget updates take care of a lot of problems, but their most important application might be security. When disasters strike, they usually hit hardware that’s running outdated software. To prevent this, manufacturers will regularly roll out crucial patches that protect your laptop, phone, and other gadgets from the latest threats.”

So while you might not care about getting the latest slew of emojis, there is some real benefit in updating your device. In fact, it could be a real safety concern if you don’t. On top of that, a lot of performance issues you might be experiencing could be related to not installing updates.

“If your gadget suffers from poor battery life, can’t connect to Wi-Fi properly, keeps displaying strange characters on screen, a software patch might sort out the issue,” Popular Science explains.

Each device is different in terms of when and how many updates you are likely to receive. iOS devices get updates much more frequently than Pixel phones, for example. If you are an iOS 12 user, you even now have the option of using the new Automatic Updates feature, selectable on the Software Update screen. By choosing to enable this feature, your device will “automatically apply patches overnight, waiting until the device is idle, plugged into a power charger, and connected to a Wi-Fi network.”

Source: popsci.com – Stop putting off your device updates – here’s why
Published: September 23, 2018

Square Payroll is now mobile

Launched back in 2009, Square is a popular merchant services aggregator that has become very popular with small businesses and retailers. In 2015, it introduced Square Payroll, a desktop service which allows its customers to process payrolls. Now, three years later, the service is going mobile.

ZD Net explains that using Square Payroll mobile, “Employees clock in and out of their shift via integrated time cards on Square’s Register app. When the pay period closes, the business owner imports employee hours and Square’s payroll service calculates applicable taxes and sends the funds out to workers. Employees have the ability to enter their own tax details upon setup, and state and federal payroll taxes are filed automatically for the business.”

For Square Payroll customers who are considering going mobile, the company assured in a recent blog post that the experience will be very similar. “Import your timecards or enter hours, submit your pay run, and leave the rest to us (we’ll take care of filing, paying, and withholding your payroll taxes). And now you can easily do all of this on your mobile device, no matter where you are,” Square assured.

If you use Square Payroll, the process may have just become a little easier for you. It also showcases the growing trend of having access to everything from our smartphones at the drop of a dime.

Source: paymentsjournal.com – Square Payroll Goes Mobile
Published: September 26, 2018

Do the new iPhones have connectivity issues?

According to Business Insider, new owners of the iPhone XS and XS Max, which were released on September 21st, are complaining the devices have poor WiFi and cell signal strength.

Business Insider says, “Some are reporting that their older iPhones like the iPhone 7 and iPhone X had better reception strength than their new iPhones — or, simply, that the new iPhones don’t impress with their wireless reception.”

These reports seem to be coming from all carriers, meaning it is not a question of network or region. In seeming confirmation with the user reports, wireless technology blog WiWavelength found that “demonstrating in a laboratory environment how the signal strength on the iPhone XS is significantly weaker than it was with last year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X devices.”

If you’ve been following the new iPhone devices, you might remember that the XS and XS Max have one more antenna band than the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The poor connectivity is coming to a surprise to those who expected better from this new generation of devices.

Worried about the new iPhones? Business Insider says to be patient: “These new iPhones have only just begun to roll out into the real world, and Apple could potentially fix the signal strength issues with a software update after gathering user data. Something similar happened once before, with the iPhone 7, and Apple was able to successfully fix it with a patch.”

Source: businessinsider.com – iPhone XS and XS Max buyers are complaining that their new devices have bad WiFi and cell signal
Published: September 24, 2018

iPhone prices are likely to rise

There are always new promotional deals on iPhones, so it might seem like you are getting some kind of steal on the newest devices. However, according to TheStreet, “the average selling price for the phone will be higher in the second half of 2018 than analysts anticipated.”

Analyst firm Nomura has been tracking the average selling price – or ASP – of the iPhone. While it expected the newest variations of the device to be selling for USD $780 during fiscal 2019 – Wall Street estimated $757 – it turns out the device has actually been selling for between $800 and $830. The ASP is rising internationally as well.

At the same time, TheStreet says “U.S. telecom companies like Verizon Communications Inc.  and AT&T Inc. have been slightly more aggressive for the iPhone XS and XS Max this year than they were last year for the iPhone 8.”

While the phones are growing more and more expensive, companies are pushing promotions to try and entice you to get the newest iPhone anyway.

Nomura told TheStreet that “The common offer is a credit up to $700 with an additional line of service.”

Source: thestreet.com – iPhone Prices to Rise Even as Telecoms Offer More Aggressive Promos
Published: September 17, 2018

Telus is still Canada’s fastest network

For the second year in a row, Vancouver-based carrier Telus has secured the title of fastest mobile network in Canada, as rated by PC Mag. Bell Canada came in second place, followed by Rogers Communications in third.

As explained by Mobile Syrup, “Telus averaged download speeds of 174.67Mbps across the country, and was able to achieve maximum download speeds of 742.26Mbps in select regions” and “in terms of average upload speeds, Telus came in first with speeds of 31.48Mbps, Bell came in second with 30.68Mbps and Rogers came in third with 27.63Mbps.”

PC Mag’s report, where these statistics were published, also disclosed some very interesting information. For one, The Big Three Canadian carriers all reported being able to provide their subscribers with an average of 99 percent time on LTE when using data. As well, PC Mag has announced that “Kingston, Ontario not only has the fastest wireless speeds in Canada, but it also provides subscribers with the fastest wireless speeds in North America.” North-America’s second fastest city is also in Ontario, and is listed as the tri-city area of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge.

If you’re wondering how regional carriers performed in PC Mag’s testing, Mobile Syrup says “regional players are still competitors in the wireless market… Of course, at least one member of Canada’s Big Three was able to beat out every single regional carrier in every city where PCMag conducted its testing, but in places like Saskatchewan — home to Crown carrier SaskTel — the competition was quite close.”

Source: mobilesyrup.com – Telus Canada’s fastest mobile network for second year in a row, says report
Published: September 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence victims will receive free telecom services

According to telecompaper, wireless and prepaid customers of AT&T and Verizon who live in the areas most impacted by Hurricane Florence will be receiving free services from their carrier. This will mostly apply to customers living in the Carolinas.

AT&T will be providing unlimited talk, text, and data for its impacted customers. Likewise, Verizon will be giving free talk, text, and data to its customers effected by the storm.

Both carriers have also lifted speed caps and restrictions for first responders in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

This small but crucial act could be lifesaving, and shows just how important carriers and ISPs are in disaster situations. If not lifesaving, at the very least this service allows victims to keep their friends and families updated to their status and safety during the hurricane.

Source: AT&T, Verizon to give unlimited communications to customers affected by Hurricane Florence – telecompaper.com
Published: September 12, 2018

Amazon expands Whole Foods delivery to ten more cities

Last year, Amazon acquired Whole Foods and began its journey towards adding another facet to its shipping and e-commerce empire: food sales. Since the purchase, Amazon has been working to expand food delivery to Prime subscribers.

Whole Foods Prime Delivery was available across 28 cities, but now Prime subscribers in Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, and Tucson have the option available. Prime subscribers can “opt for free, two-hour deliveries between 8am and 10pm each day.”

New York City, Los Angeles, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area have already been in the Whole Foods Prime Delivery zone, but exclusive to certain neighborhoods. According to PC Mag, those neighborhoods are also now growing in number, so if you live in one of these cities and have not been able to access this service, you might want to see if your status has been updated.

With the success of food delivery, Amazon has also expanded to alcohol delivery. NYC, LA, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Seattle Prime members will have access to this service through Whole Foods Prime Delivery.

Source: pcmag.com – 10 More Cities Get Whole Foods Prime Delivery
Published: September 12, 2018

Rural Ontarians want the government to take their connectivity needs seriously

According to CBC, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is pushing Ottawa “for a hefty investment in broadband expansion for rural and remote parts of the province.” In fact, for the 2019 federal budget, the OFA is asking “the feds to commit to rural Internet expansion to the tune of $100 million per year.

That sounds like a lot, right? But the OFA argues it is necessary. Neil Currie, general manager of the OFA, compared the situation to the electrification of rural Ontario, all the way back in the 1930s. Currie told CBC that the electrification process was “an essential service in the 1930s, just as broadband is essential now, and actually quite long overdue… We should’ve been doing this in the 90s.” Currie points out Southwestern Ontario as a particular part of the province that has been neglected in the past, and could benefit from this investment.

This isn’t the first time this issue has come up in Ottawa. As CBC explains, “in 2016, the federal government committed to $500 million in funding to bring broadband Internet access to 300 rural and remote communities by 2021.”

Despite the low customer density for broadband services that makes the service quite expensive, Currie believes that federal investment will ultimately benefit all Canadians. As CBC explains, “Experts say Canada has an opportunity to become a leading player in the world’s agri-food industry, but that investment is needed to make that happen.” One of these investments is equipping farmers with the tools to make their life easier, such as high-speed, reliable internet connectivity to stay up-to-date with the latest market trends, among other things.

Doug Knox, VP of Guelph-based agri-tech accelerator Bioenterprise, told CBC that one way farmers can benefit from reliable broadband is through the growth of “precision” agriculture. Farmers apparently “can now use sensors to extract information about everything from soil content to the growth stage of their crops, which helps to make data-driven decisions about fertilizing and planting.” But with poor connection, the process of collecting and downloading data is long and tedious. Knox believes many farmers choose not to implement better technologies because of the “severe” time lag.

“The yield may be lower because of not being able to understand what’s happening with the crop that’s growing, and so the impact is huge for the farmer,” Knox told CBC.

In order for Canada to feed not only its own population, but the growing world population, broadband is looking incredibly important. It is up to the federal government to decide if they deem the investment is worth it.

Source: cbc.ca – ‘Long overdue’: Ontario farmers say lack of reliable broadband Internet is hurting their business
Published: September 05, 2018

CRTC will phase out its support of local phones in hard to serve regions

Schooley Mitchell complaintsThe Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commissions spends millions of dollars each year to subsidize the cost of maintaining telephone lines . Now, the commission says it will begin phasing out that subsidy over the next couple of years to focus instead on helping hard-to-serve regions connect to broadband. According to the The Financial Post, this decision will eliminate “nearly $116 million in subsidies for local telephone service[s].”

Starting January 1st, 2019, the subsidies will be phased out semi-annually. By December 31st, 2020, the subsidies will completely end for local phone service.

In 2016, the CRTC made the decision to label broadband as a basic service, as crucial as telephone or television. Now, clearly it sees broadband as the “more critical connection.” As The Financial Post explains, “Its preliminary view was that if a person can reliably access the internet, over which they can use voice services, there is no need to subsidize residential phone lines.”

Who actually pays for these subsidies? Believe it or not, a lot of the money comes from carriers. Providers “with more than $10 million in annual revenue must contribute to a national fund that is distributed to incumbent local exchange carriers serving rural and remote areas where the monthly costs to provide service are higher than revenue.”

Not everyone is happy with this move. Opposition has bubbled up from SaskTel, Telus Corp, and Eastlink, among others, who say carriers “have the obligation to serve customers in high-cost areas, but without the subsidy could not do so with rates that are just and reasonable.”

Source: www.financialpost.com – CRTC to phase out $115 million in local phone subsidies by 2021
Published: June 26, 2018