Is Charging Your Phone All Day Really That Bad? – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Guy is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

“If you’re unsure whether there’s a “right” way to charge your phone — or whether charging it too long, too often or too fast can damage the battery — you’re not alone. I’m a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, and I’ve been writing about phones and tech since 2011. Before that, I was an iPhone sales specialist at an Apple Store. Even with that experience under my belt, it has never been totally clear to me whether being careful about how often I recharge my phone actually extends the life of the battery enough to make a difference, or if it’s just another hassle in a world with far too many of them.

Some people just plug their phones into a charger (or toss them onto a wireless charging pad) whenever power is available. Others fastidiously keep their batteries between 40 percent and 80 percent, never allowing a full charge, guided by the belief that a battery will last longer as a result. Personally, I keep my iPhone on a Qi wireless charger on my desk all day while I’m at work, and I juice it up overnight, as well.

After speaking with battery researchers and the reuse experts at iFixit, reviewing studies on phone replacement trends and analyzing some user data from Wirecutter staffers, we’ve found that although micromanaging your phone’s battery is likely to extend its life to a small degree, the results might not be worth the inconvenience in the long run.

Charging your battery causes its performance to degrade over time, no matter how you do it. Smartphones are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which work by moving charge carriers (in this case, lithium ions) from one electrode to another. The ions move in one direction when charging and in the other when discharging.”

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Wi-Fi – The New York Times

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Mr. Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

“For anyone used to working in a traditional office, working from home has revealed just how telecommuting-unfriendly a living space can be. While it may be uncomfortable to sit in a bad office chair or type under dim overhead lighting, a bad internet connection can really impede your productivity — or even grind it to a halt. Between Zoom meetings and remote learning, coupled with more members of the household hogging up bandwidth, you might have noticed a slower-than-usual connection.

As a senior writer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, who specializes in network devices, even I have had to contend with adequate, but not great, Wi-Fi connections.

Common causes for a crawling Wi-Fi connection include using the subpar router rented (for a fee!) from an internet service provider; a home with rooms far from a router; or a router that requires an extra boost to reach a corner of the home office, backyard patio or the surveillance camera over the garage door.

While every scenario is different, the symptoms are the same. Smart speakers disconnect from the internet, kids will gripe about buffering when swiping to the 15th TikTok in a row, or you may experience choppy audio and video on a work call (the worst sin of all).”

Editorial | How to Hold Big Tech’s Feet to the Fire – The New York Times

Here are some questions subcommittee members ought to consider:

The subcommittee will probably focus on the company’s relationship with third-party merchants that use the site to sell directly to consumers. Such merchants represent about 60 percent of Amazon’s sales. The company also operates an enormous shipping network, an advertising sales business and a cloud computing service that may raise alarms among regulators. Amazon’s trove of sales data gives it incredibly detailed insights into both customers and merchants.

  • After an investigation by German regulators, Amazon vowed last year to overhaul its contracts with third-party merchants. Did the company adequately do so? Does Amazon have contracts that require lower prices than other retailers’? Does it require exclusivity, meaning merchants cannot offer their goods on other sellers’ websites?

  • An Amazon lawyer told the panel, “We don’t use individual seller data directly to compete” with other businesses on Amazon’s site. But a Wall Street Journal report showed evidence that Amazon does just that, helping it create tailored private-label products that undercut competitors. What is the extent of Amazon’s use of seller data?

  • Amazon offers its sellers warehousing and shipping services worldwide. What does it seek in return, beyond a commission? Does Amazon use sales data from small merchants to source new products or to help larger sellers succeed, forcing out smaller ones?

  • In 2010, Amazon dropped diaper prices well below profitability, in a successful effort to force a competitor, Diapers.com, into acquisition talks. Amazon has since shuttered that site. Does Amazon view such actions as exclusionary? And is the company engaged in other such pricing wars in order to force a competitor to sell?

  • A Washington Post investigation showed that Amazon pushes consumers toward its private-label products even when they appear to want to buy name brands. Does Amazon favor its own products in consumers’ searches? Does it require fees or advertising purchases from merchants or brands to ensure their products rise to the top of searches?

While Apple is best known for its iPhones and laptops, it also has healthy competition from companies like Samsung and Lenovo in hardware sales. As a result, Mr. Cook is most likely to be asked about the structure of Apple’s App Store, where millions of software developers offer their apps for download.

  • Why does Apple permit only its own app store on iPhones?

  • Developers are generally required to offer their in-app purchases and paid subscriptions through Apple’s App Store, rather than on their own websites, where they may avoid Apple’s commissions. Apple has threatened to remove apps that don’t abide. How is this in the best interest of consumers and app developers?

  • Some app developers have alleged that Apple uses the detailed data it collects about app downloads to copy their ideas and that the company favors its own apps in searches. Is this true? If so, how does the company defend such practices?

Facebook’s aggressive acquisition strategy — including the giants Instagram and WhatsApp — makes it vulnerable to a breakup if regulators find that it was trying to rid the market of real competition.

  • Reportedly, the Federal Trade Commission had documents demonstrating Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 in an explicit bid to stifle a competitor. Were those documents mischaracterized? How did Facebook’s buying Instagram benefit consumers, and how did it determine the $1 billion price?

  • British lawmakers released emails showing Facebook used an analytics app to collect detailed data about competitors in order to snuff them out. That helped Facebook decide to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion, the emails show. Couldn’t that be called an abuse of market power? Does Facebook still cull proprietary data on rivals in order to protect its market leadership?

  • Advertisers can target customers on Facebook with incredible accuracy, in part because of the platform’s ability to track users’ internet browsing activity across the web. Shouldn’t users consider those terms onerous? Also, has Facebook made assurances about the privacy of customer data that it later reneged on? What assurances do consumers have that their data will remain private and not be repurposed for Facebook’s benefit?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook quashed efforts to make its site less politically divisive because partisan content drives more use of the site, which is beneficial to its advertising business. How can suppressing opposing views for users be viewed as anything but an abuse of power?

What is 5G | Everything You Need to Know About 5G | 5G FAQ | Qualcomm

Q: What is 5G?

“A: 5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.

5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users. Higher performance and improved efficiency empower new user experiences and connects new industries.”

Source: What is 5G | Everything You Need to Know About 5G | 5G FAQ | Qualcomm

Why Zoom Is Terrible – By Kate Murphy – The New York Times

“Last month, global downloads of the apps Zoom, Houseparty and Skype increased more than 100 percent as video conferencing and chats replaced the face-to-face encounters we are all so sorely missing. Their faces arranged in a grid reminiscent of the game show “Hollywood Squares,” people are attending virtual happy hours and birthday parties, holding virtual business meetings, learning in virtual classrooms and having virtual psychotherapy.

But there are reasons to be wary of the technology, beyond the widely reported security and privacy concerns. Psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists say the distortions and delays inherent in video communication can end up making you feel isolated, anxious and disconnected (or more than you were already). You might be better off just talking on the phone.

The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.

Jeffrey Golde, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, has been teaching his previously in-person leadership class via Zoom for about a month now and he said it’s been strangely wearing. “I’ve noticed, not only in my students, but also in myself, a tendency to flag,” he said. “It gets hard to concentrate on the grid and it’s hard to think in a robust way.”

New York Attorney General Looks Into Zoom’s Privacy Practices – The New York Times

 

“Zoom, the videoconferencing app whose traffic has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, is under scrutiny by the office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, for its data privacy and security practices.

On Monday, the office sent Zoom a letter asking what, if any, new security measures the company has put in place to handle increased traffic on its network and to detect hackers, according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times.

While the letter referred to Zoom as “an essential and valuable communications platform,” it outlined several concerns, noting that the company had been slow to address security flaws such as vulnerabilities “that could enable malicious third parties to, among other things, gain surreptitious access to consumer webcams.”

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Over the last few weeks, internet trolls have exploited a Zoom screen-sharing feature to hijack meetings and do things like interrupt educational sessions or post white supremacist messages to a webinar on anti-Semitism — a phenomenon called “Zoombombing.

es to a webinar on anti-Semitism — a phenomenon called “Zoombombing.”

Vintage Retro Buffalo Leather Briefcase | Leather Bags Gallery

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Source: Vintage Retro Buffalo Leather Briefcase | Leather Bags Gallery

Opinion | How Technology Saved China’s Economy – By Ruchir Sharma – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Sharma is an author, global investor and contributing opinion writer.

Credit…China Network/Reuters

“Landing in Shanghai recently, I found myself in the middle of a tech revolution remarkable in its sweep. The passport scanner automatically addresses visitors in their native tongues. Digital payment apps have replaced cash. Outsiders trying to use paper money get blank stares from store clerks.

Nearby in the city of Hangzhou a prototype hotel called FlyZoo uses facial recognition to open doors, no keys required. Robots mix cocktails and provide room service. Farther south in Shenzhen, we flew the same drones that are already making e-commerce deliveries in rural China. Downtown traffic flowed smoothly, guided by synced stoplights and restrained by police cameras.

Outside China, these technologies are seen as harbingers of an “automated authoritarianism,” using video cameras and facial recognition systems to thwart lawbreakers and a “citizen score” to rank citizens for political reliability. An advanced version has been deployed to counter unrest among Muslim Uighurs in the inland region of Xinjiang. But in China as a whole, surveys show that trust in technology is high, concern about privacy low. If people fear Big Brother, they keep it to themselves. In our travels along the coast, many expressed pride in China’s sudden rise as a tech power.

China initiated its economic miracle by opening to the outside world, but now it is nurturing domestic tech giants by barring outside competition. Foreign visitors cannot open Google or Facebook, a weirdly isolating experience, and the trade deal announced Wednesday by President Trump defers discussion of those barriers.”

What You Need to Know About 5G in 2020 – by Brian Chen – The New York Times

“In the simplest terms, 5G is a new cellular standard. Phone carriers have jumped to a new wireless standard roughly every decade. About 10 years ago, 4G, the fourth-generation network, arrived with significantly faster speeds and stronger reliability than 3G. About a decade before that, 3G arrived and was much faster and more robust than 2G. You get the picture.

Unfortunately, 5G is more complicated. There are a few flavors of 5G described with deeply technical jargon.

To make 5G easier to swallow, let’s rename the jargon into ice cream flavors:

  • The much-hyped, ultrafast variant of 5G is known as “millimeter wave,” but let’s call it rocky road. It lets carriers transmit data at incredibly fast speeds — the kind that would let you download an entire movie in a few seconds.

    The problem with rocky road is that its signals travel shorter distances, covering a park in New York but not a broad swath of the city, for example. It also has trouble penetrating obstacles like walls. So Verizon and AT&T have focused deployment of rocky road in large spaces like sports stadiums and outdoor amphitheaters.

    Because of the technical limitations of rocky road, we are unlikely to see it deployed nationwide anytime soon (if ever), meaning we won’t be getting these incredible speeds in the vast majority of places.

  • Instead, this year our cellular networks will broadly shift to a version of 5G that is less exciting. Let’s call this vanilla 5G.”

Opinion | Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy – By Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Each piece of information in this file represents the precise location of a single smartphone over a period of several months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.

After spending months sifting through the data, tracking the movements of people across the country and speaking with dozens of data companies, technologists, lawyers and academics who study this field, we feel the same sense of alarm. In the cities that the data file covers, it tracks people from nearly every neighborhood and block, whether they live in mobile homes in Alexandria, Va., or luxury towers in Manhattan.

One search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the residences indefinitely.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Great report, “horrible, but great,” to quote Olivander, the wand seller, in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter #1. I have a great thirst for more specifics on: 1. As an iphone user, if I use google maps, allowing my location, am I screwed. Am I condemned to their resalable bulletin board of movement, or am I protected. Can I use directions from here to there and still have privacy?
And 2. which apps are to blame, including which functions on them, and what are the trade offs. 3. What legislation is needed to give us a modicum of privacy? thank you for this horrible, but magnificent report.
(David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)