⓱news – HP Intentionally Bricks Printers with a Firmware Update – Cites Security Risk Nonsense

Earlier this month Hewlett Packard released a firmware update that required HP branded ink in order for its printers to function. Users of third-party ink cartridges were surprised by error messages and out if service printers. Many consumers had owned the printers several years and didn’t realize the software updated automatically until their machines were locked down.
HP-branded ink costs about twice as much as generic suppliers. The company cites higher quality and greater security as reasons for the price difference. Their smart cartridges contain a chip that reports ink levels and performance but also reports back to HP its authenticity. While it is believable that grossly inferior ink could cause hardware problems it is a stretch to invoke security fears as a scare tactic. Printer cartridges do not store and sensitive information or allow access the the computer’s hard drive.

HP customer service was immediately overwhelmed by troubleshooting requests upon the updates release. Customers are now expressing resent that HP changed the way their owned equipment operates. This was compounded by the feeling that HP virtually reached into consumers homes in a profit motivated maneuver.

In an effort to minimize adverse public relations HP has promised to remove the digital lock on an upcoming update. In the meantime users of HP printers must either swap out their generic cartridges or unplug their printers.

HP has a dominant market share but recently been losing ground to Epson. Epson’s popular EcoTank printer line has deleted the disposable cartridges altogether. Instead they allow consumers to buy quality bottled ink at low cost and periodically fill a tank housed in the printer. A 2 year ink supply is included with the Epson rather than the trial size cartridges HP provides.

HP’s lack of foresight and slow response to the controversial update will further push consumers away from the cartridge-based systems.

⓱lifehacks – 6 Bizzare Amazon Dash Buttons (and 17 Incredibly Useful Ones)

The Dream: You notice there’s just enough coffee for a few more cups so you press the Dash Button attached to your Keurig. Two days later the K-cups are on your doorstep. Caffeine withdrawals are averted. You are living in the future.

The Reality: The Amazon Dash Button is a WiFi connected dongle that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button. Once Dash Button is pressed, the indicator light will turn green and a notification is sent to your smartphone. You’ll never run out of your essentials again.

Dash Button comes with a reusable adhesive and a removable hook to hang or stick the button right where you need it.

They are effectively free as the $5 cost is credited to your account upon your first button press. They are exclusive to Amazon Prime Members and arrive without shipping charges. There’s no excuse not to grab a handful and give them a try.

You can start a FREE 30-Day Amazon Prime Membership here.

The Ridiculous…


It’s hard to believe that some of these items exist and even harder to imagine the scenario where they would be useful. These make more sense as promotional novelties rather than a saleable good. Many LOL’s were had in the marketing meetings that conjured up these oddities. I gave a few of these as gag gifts but now wonder if they’ve been put to use.

  1. Trojan Condoms – exactly where do you hang this button?
  2. Dude Male Wipes – man has survived 200,000 years without these
  3. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – because there’s always a healthier alternative
  4. Nerf Gun Ammo – you should outgrow these before they need replenishment
  5. Doritos Chips. Slim Jim [tied] – Cannot technically be classified as junk food because there is no actual food in the ingredient list
  6. Play-Doh – if you keep running out of this stuff I’m worried your kid is eating it. I used the same can my entire childhood


The Incredibly Specific…

This is not a jab at any listed product or their loyal users. I’m just questioning if there’s a big enough market to justify the existence of a dash button. Even the narrow demographic that uses these would only rarely need to place an repeat order.

  1. 3-Ring Binders – Wilson Jones. You don’t lose them, they don’t go out of style and they last forever
  2. Dry Erase Markers & Art Pencils – Derwent. Quartet.
  3. Poop Relief Pills – Digestive Advantage. Culturelle
  4. Snot Relief – Mucinex. Surprised they didn’t co-market this with the facial tissues button
  5. Guitar Strings – d’Addario. Going to the music store is more fun
  6. Sunflower Seeds – David. One box is already a lifetime supply
  7. Septic Tank Treatment – RidX. Call the plumber or try the constipation stuff above
  8. Cocktail Mix – Amoretti. You still have to go to the liquor store so you’re not saving a trip
  9. Candles – Jolie. I’ve never burned an entire candle to the end. Because electricity


The Truly Useful…

Household goods make perfect sense. These items are nearly universal in use and consumed at high volume. At any given time you are likely to be low on at least one of these. Despite the inconvenience of running out most of them don’t warrant a separate drive to the market (toilet paper being the obvious exception).

  1. Laundry & Dishwasher Detergent – Tide. All. Gain. Cascade. Downy. Finish. Clorox. Snuggle. Persil. OxiClean. Affresh. Wisk. Dropps
  2. Toilet Paper – Charmin. Angel Soft. Quilted Northern. You can’t live without it
  3. Paper Goods – Bounty. Brawny. Dixie. Puffs. Seventh Generation. Hammermill Copier Paper. Vanity Fair Napkins. As long as you recycle
  4. Drinking Water – SmartWater. Fiji. Dasani. VitaminWater. ONE Coconut Water. Zico Pure Coconut Water. This stuff is too heavy to lug home from the store. Let them bring it to you instead
  5. Razors & Blades – Gillette. Schick Men’s. Schick Silk Ladies. Throw them out before they get dull and rusty
  6. Batteries – Energizer. Rayovac. So may electronics
  7. Feminine Hygiene – Carefree. Playtex. For her
  8. Coffee & K Cups – Maxwell House. Starbucks. Brooklyn BeanPeet’s. illy. illy Bottled. Honest Tea. Pure Leaf Tea. The best part of waking up
  9. Pet Food – Purina. Wellness Natural. Greenies. Solid Gold. It’s bulky and smells up the trunk of your car. Leave it to UPS
  10. Baby Food – Gerber. Honest Kids. Plum Organics . Kids gotta eat
  11. Baby Wipes – Elements. Milk Baby. Aquaphor Baby. Kids gotta poop
  12. Hand & Bath Soap – Dial Bath & Shower. Dial Liquid Hand SoapOlay. Cleanliness counts
  13. Adult Diapers – Depend. Very discrete to buy online. You don’t want to stand in line at Walgreen’s with a cart full of these
  14. Kitty Litter – Arm & Hammer. Litter Genie. If you could just teach the cat to press the button. But no thumbs
  15. Toner Cartridges – True Image. The ‘Low Toner’ light comes on and the order goes in
  16. Garbage Bags – Hefty. Glad. SimpleHuman. Ziploc. These things seem to run out quicker towards the end of the box.
  17. Vitamins and Supplements – Vega Protein. MegaRed Fish Oils. VitaFusion Adult Gummies. L’il Critters Kids Gummies. SmartyPants GummyEstroven Menopause Relief. Azo Bladder Health. Azo Bladder Control. Osteo BiFlex. Schiff Glucosamine. Move Free Joint HealthNew Chapter Multivitamin. New Chapter Fish Oil. New Chapter Zyflamend Whole Body. New Chapter Bone Health. Nutiva Hemp Protein. Optimum Whey Protein. Something for everybody…

The Missing in Action…

Domino’s Pizza – I would use this one every week. Please make this

You can probably figure several of these that would make your life easier. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how seamlessly they fit into my shopping habits. When Amazon offers 1 hour drone delivery on the condoms I’ll move it to the ‘Useful’ list. Long live “the internet of things”.



⓱deals – Stock Up on Extra-Long Apple Lightning Cables for Just $10 each

Now’s a great time to stock up on these extra-long iPhone/iPad charging cables.

A great length for the bedside, living room or backseat of car. Just $10 and shipping is free. They are made by Monoprice and Apple MFi Certified for quality and reliability.


10 foot Lightning to USB Charge & Sync Cable – BLACK – $10.28

10 foot Lightning to USB Charge & Sync Cable – WHITE – $10.28


Get FREE 2-day shipping with all Amazon Prime orders. Get a 30-Day FREE membership here.


⓱news – iOS 10 Adoption Surpasses Android’s Latest Offerings In Just SIX Days

Apple’s latest mobile operating system was released less than two weeks ago and already it has surpassed the combined adoption of Android’s 2 latest offerings.
iOS 10 was released on Sept 13 to coincide with the release of the iPhone 7. As of Sept 19 the iOS adoption had already hit 36% according to Mixpanel Analytics.

Android’s lastest OS’s are Marshmallow (Nov 22, 2015) and Nougat (Aug 22, 2016) which currently combine for 35% of installs [listed as “Other” on graph below]

Looking at the bigger picuture:

The combined use of iOS 9 and iOS 10 has reached at staggering 95%. That leaves only 5% of iPhone using an operating system over 12 months old. Most of these 5% are still carrying legacy devices that are physically unable update. Many of these users will likely upgrade within the the next year as these devices reach end of life.

iOS 10 is compatible as far back as the iPhone 5 which was released in Sept 2012. In stark contrast even new Android phones often wait 5 months or more for carriers to allow an over the air software update.

⓱news – Samsung Botches Exchange Program  – Galaxy Note 7 Users Still at Risk

Drastic times call for drastic measures: Samsung is pulling out all the stops in an effort to kick start its flagging recall program.

Samsung is begging every customer to return their Galaxy Note 7 with an on-screen message each time they power on or recharge the phone.

The phone maker has accomplished this with an unprecedented software update pushed out by cellular carriers. Ironically the same carriers have been unable or unwilling to allow all Android users an update to the platform’s latest Nougat operating system.

The government mandated recall affects about 1 million phones in the U.S. Samsung started their exchange program yesterday but admits they have only 500,000 replacement phones available. The shortcoming has led devoted Galaxy 7 users to continue using their faulty phones until they can hunt down a replacement. Another 25% of users have reported they will continue using their phones despite warnings to the contrary.

The flagship phone got rave reviews but shortly thereafter stories of fire and exploding phones began to multiply. The defect stems from a runaway thermal reaction during recharging. Faulty battery design or construction has been identified as the underlying culprit. Some experts have determined the battery’s internal plates are too close but are uncertain if Samsung’s specs or improper manufacture is to blame.

Samsung initially attempted to downplay the problem but then voluntarily offered to replace the phones. As the number of incidents grew the FAA banned the phone from airlines. Samsung then issued an bizarre warning to customers to never charge their phones past 60% if they chose not to exchange them. Shortly thereafter the Consumer Product Safety Commission stepped in to officially ban the model. It is now illegal to sell the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

With 75% of the one million defective units still in the wild and Samsung’s botched handling of the recall more stories of exploding phones are certain. The healthy replacement devices sport a green battery indicator (see header photo) while the phones tagged for recall have a black icon.

The stigma of this debacle will likely taint the brand name for new customers. Most long-time Android users will continue their loyalty despite the platform’s shortcomings. Those in the middle are best served by demanding a refund – and heading directly to the Apple Store.

⓱opinion – the Unapologetically Imperfect iPhone 7

Scars aren’t defects – they are survival stories. It’s healthiest to wear them boldly and not conceal them in shame. They are a testament to durability – not a sign of weakness.

Admiring my worn and weathered Apple devices I’m reminded of a favorite scene from ‘Jaws’. Spielberg and Benchley expressed it masterfully…

I’m actually a little disappointed that my Series 0 Apple Watch still looks brand new. Some scratches would add character. My other watches hint at stories of journey and adventure.

That’s why I’m not going to worry about “micro-abrasions” on my new iPhone 7. I’ll carry it in my pocket without a case – scars be damned. 

⓱gear – The Ultimate Battery Pack – Now with a BUILT-IN Lightning Connector and AC Charger

RAVPower Portable Charger
Built-in Apple Lightning Connector and AC Plug – no extra cords to carry!

High Capacity – 9000mAh – fully charges an iPhone 6s FIVE times over with each recharge. High output of 2.4 amps for faster phone charging

Apple MFI Certified – safest charging. Automatically detects the connected devices and delivers the optimal current to minimize charging time

Charge 2 Devices At Once – has a second USB port (even includes a micro-USB charging cable)

Now just $39.99 here

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⓱deals – Amazon Prime Adds New Member Benefits

Take advantage of the FREE 30-Day Trial Membership here.
Now it includes Audible Audio books too! 

For a one-time fee of $99 members get a year of access to an impressive and growing list of benefits:

Free 2-Day Shipping – on millions of items. No minimum order necessary

Free Amazon Instant Video – movies, TV shows and original content. Unlimited HD streaming to your smart phone, tablet, browser, set top box or console

Free Amazon Music – millions of songs. Unlimited, ad-free streaming. Downloadable for offline playback

Free Same-Day Shipping – delivery to available zip codes by 9 p.m. on the day of order. Minimum order of $35

One-Hour Delivery –  get the Amazon Now app for select metro areas. Deliveries from local stores and restaurants

Free Prime Early Access – get exclusive Lightning Deals and coupons first

Amazon Prime Day – day-long deal events for Prime members that rival those on Black Friday

*New* Free Audible Audio Books – stream from a rotating group of more than 50 audiobooks. You can also listen to ad-free content including podcasts on Audible’s new on-demand service channels

Free Kindle e-Books – download one selection per month at no charge from the Kindle Lending Library

Free Streaming Partners Program – add additional streaming video services at a discount (Showtime, Starz, etc)

Free Unlimited Photo Storage – keep all your photos safe and accessable in the cloud

Free Online Storage –  Amazon Cloud Drive can hold 5GB for your own data, music, photos, etc.

Discounted Video Games – a 20% discount off the price of new physical games

Free Amazon Family  Membership – a discount on diaper subscriptions and 15 percent off eligible items in your baby registry

Free Amazon Elements Membership – full access to Amazon’s very own line of everyday items

Membership Sharing – invite family members to share the free shipping and digital content benefits of your Prime membership at no additional cost

Grocery Delivery – flat fee of $6 for food and household goods from local markets with Amazon Pantry

Subscribe & Save – set up regularly scheduled deliveries and earn extra savings. Choose your own frequency. Skip deliveries or unsubscribe at any time

Free Amazon Mobile Apps – Amazon Shopping, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Cloud Drive, Kindle, Audible Audio Books

Amazon Dash Buttons – reorders your favorite product with the press of a button.

Take advantage of the FREE 30-Day Trial Membership here.

⓱iOS – Find Your Missing Apple Watch Using iCloud and iPhone 

Starting in 2010 Mobile Me enabled you to hunt down your missing iPhone (or iPad) with the Find My iPhone app. In 2011 OSX Lion added ‘Find My Mac’ to the mix. Beginning this week watchOs 3 enables iCloud to locate your misplaced Apple Watch.

iPhone screen shot from ‘Find My Apple Watch’

Until now real-time geolocation was only possible if your missing Apple Watch and iPhone were in Bluetooth range or on the same WiFi network. Since the watch does not have its own cellular signal that would seem to limit location tracking to within 10 meters or your home WiFi. Once out of range, however, iCloud now kicks in and reports the watch’s present location by GPS or WiFi triangulation. If the watch is turned off the last known location is reported. Accuracy is enhanced because the Apple Watch can still connect to previously known WiFi on its own (even when phone is physically distant). 

iCloud.com screen shot from Safari browser

To set up this feature: open the Apple Watch app on iPhone and select “My Watch” at the bottom of the screen. Tap the icon of a paired watch then the “ℹ︎” symbol to the right.

On iPhone: Watch App > My Watch > Info

You should see the highlighted text “Find My Apple Watch“. Once selected your will get a map showing your watch’s location. If not you should check your iCloud settings and pairing status of your phone.

From its inception even WatchOS 1.0 could locate a missing iPhone. It included a watch glance that could ping your lost iPhone (even if the speaker was off).

send a ping from Apple Watch’s home screen to find your iPhone

Conversely, the refreshed Find My iPhone app now employs “Play a Sound” to pinpoint a missing watch by following an audio alert to the source. 

Apple Watch screen shot after receiving a ping alert from iPhone
The automatic implementation of activation lock during pairing and the need for passcode unlock with loss of skin contact are the original layers of protection. WatchOS 3.0 adds the ability to remotely wipe your stolen Apple Watch or freeze it in Lost Mode.

ping missing Apple Watch to emit an alert tone

Smart Leashing” is a feature tested extensively within Apple but only partially rolled out to the public.** One concept that was not included was for the watch to tap you on the wrist if you left your phone behind. Fortunately third party developers have stepped in to create the apps that serve this purpose.

Lookout is an iOS app that monitors the distance between your iPhone and watch.

Apple Watch screen shot of Lookout glance in dock

You receive a tap on the wrist and a notification on the watch screen if you are about to lose the paired connection. You can adjust sensitivity for greater or lesser separation distances. Lookout can also ring a missing phone even if speaker and volume are off.

Apple Watch screen shot of Lookout alert
It also locates your misplaced iPhone from the watch face. It shows a map with the last known iPhone location once it’s out of range or turned off. Think of the Lookout app as Find My iPhone from the Apple Watch.

Lookout watch app revealing last known location of a disconnected iPhone

The Series 2 watch has sufficient battery capacity to power a GPS or cellular antenna – but not both. Fitness became a design priority and GPS won out. As a result the watch is still subject to the limitations imposed by Bluetooth and WiFi. It is expected that the next generation watch will be completely untethered from the iPhone.

** One variation of Smart Leashing now exists as Auto Unlock. That’s the feature that unlocks your Mac when your Apple Watch approaches. They are both offshoots of continuity between Apple devices and handoff between apps. Expect to see more of this type of inter-device awareness with macOS Sierra and the the new lines of Macs later this year.