Gadget Talk

Not sure? It’s probably a scam

February 19th, 2014 at 6:59 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

We receive a lot of calls, emails and Facebook posts about scams, or possible scams.

How can you tell if that text from your bank is legitimate, or if the random phone call about an antivirus is real?

The short answer is, it probably isn’t legitimate.

Most banks, in fact, none that I’ve ever heard of will send you a text message telling you there is a problem with your account, and to call a number to get it fixed.

If you call that number, it might even sound like it could be for real, a “helpful” person answers, asks for your card information, (that your real bank would have on file) your date of birth, (that your bank would have on file) and a social security number.(that again, your bank would have on file)

Those three things are essentially everything someone needs to assume your identity involving your bank account.

If you have a concern, contact your bank…at the number you KNOW is their number…the one from the phone book.

Along with that scam, another popular one going around is where people are getting phone calls from a mystery number talking about their antivirus being out of date…or having issues.

If you use a computer that has antivirus, you are aware of how much the program will not allow you to forget that your software is out of date. The little pop-up in the bottom right corner will not let you forget.

Most antivirus companies will not take the time, or have the resources to call you about your program being out of date.

The bottom line, don’t give anybody…over the phone…that you don’t know, access to your computer.

Have a topic you’d like to hear more about…feel free to drop me an email at CEssex@wthitv.com!


AT&T’s LTE network flipped on in Terre Haute

December 18th, 2013 at 7:31 pm by under Gadget Talk

Terre Haute AT&T customers rejoice!

We finally have LTE.

Don’t know what that means? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Since cell phones could use the internet, they’ve had to have a system to actually connect them.

Over the years, you may have heard really futuristic terms like Edge, 3G, EV-DO, GRPS, LTE and 4G.

These are different generations of internet speed. They basically break down like this 0G, 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G…the G standing for generation.

Each “G” or generation was a bit faster than the one before it.

The latest, all-be it a little late in the life cycle is LTE.

Put simply, LTE is fast. What does that do for you though?

If you are a fan of streaming video and downloading things to your cell phone, this is pretty huge.

I was fairly vocal with people that knew me about how bad AT&T’s 3G service was in Terre Haute, namely on the south-side.

The LTE coverage changes all of that. The service works much better than in the past.

How can you take advantage of the new service though? It requires that you have an LTE capable phone.

Most…not all but most new phones are good to go with LTE. For the specifics though, take a look at your box the phone came in, or just a quick Google search should help you out.

Click on here for a full press release, including a quote from Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.   


Is that urban legand true?

October 16th, 2013 at 7:46 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Quick, forward this on…or Facebook will start charging you.

The (fill in the blank) company will give you $(fill in the amount of money) if you sign this and share it with 10 of your friends.

President Obama, or Bush….or Clinton…has signed a bill taking away your freedom of speech.

We’ve all seen these; they’ve been on the internet, pretty much as long as the internet has been around.

Before that, they came in the form of chain letters.

They are internet hoaxes…and they are everywhere.

No, Facebook is not going to charge you….no Microsoft is not going to send you a check for forwarding a message on…and no, no president has signed a bill taking away your freedom of speech.

Did you know though, Australian computer programmers added armed kangaroos to a military defense simulation…wait…what?

How about if you had long hair in the 1960’s…you wouldn’t be allowed to enter Disneyland.

There is a website out there fighting the good fight though, to keep people informed on these, and it has been one of my favorite web sites since I was in high school.

That site is Snopes.

Many of you have heard of it, but if you haven’t, they basically scour the web looked for the hoaxes, urban legends and old wives tales.

They are then broken down into different categories so you can find them easier.  

If you get a chance, go check out the site, I think you’ll enjoy it!


The new iPhone 5S and 5C

September 11th, 2013 at 12:37 am by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

The announcement of a new iPhone, to some in the tech community it is considered a holiday.

In previous years, Apple has announced a new phone, and bumped their older ones down to the cheaper model.

That was not the case for this years announcement.

I’m going to break this down for you in one easy to read, non tech nerd blog.

iPhone 5S

Apple’s new flagship phone, the iPhone 5S was the first major announcement at Tuesday’s event.

The iPhone 5S will look…basically the same as the iPhone 5, with one little difference in appearance. We will get to that in a second.

We get the usual spec bump in this update, meaning the phone will move faster, the camera is a little better, the internet a little quicker. So why should you be interested?

The key feature will be the new “Touch ID.”

This could make typing passwords a thing of the past.

When the phone is released, instead of typing in a password to access your phone…or typing a different password to download music or apps, it will use your thumbprint.

This has exciting potential. Right now Apple has it locked to only their services, but in the future, imagine signing into your Facebook or Twitter using your thumbprint, instead of typing a password…that can be hackable. The future is bright for this feature.

This also leads me to the one physical change in the iPhone.

Around the home button, you will see a silver ring. This ring will help the phone to know you are trying to use your finger print. That way it won’t always be looking for it, draining battery.

All of the demos of this feature look to be very smooth and it appears to look like it works nicely.

One more notable update will be the camera.

A weakness of mobile phone photography is the flash.  It’s nice to have, but honestly, i use my cameras flash more for a flashlight than i do taking photos. It is kind of useless at this point.

The new phone will come with what Apple is calling a True Tone flash. This is basically two LED lights inside the flash of slightly different colors. To keep it simple, it SHOULD make your photos look better.

I haven’t gotten a chance to test this out yet, so i will let you know in my review!

They have also updated the video camera. You will have the option to shoot 120 frames per second of video. Translation, slow motion video.

It is worth noting, the new processor speed is looking very impressive and sped up. But it is something the average user won’t really notice or pay attention to.

iPhone 5C

This one is the new…old kid on the block. It has for the most part the exact same guts as the iPhone 5 (the version that has been on the market for about a year now) with a new change of cloths.

Apple has returned to a plastic body for this phone.

I haven’t actually had had a chance to hold one, but the reports are saying this phone does not feel cheap.

The excitement  around phone however is the colors of the shell. You will have the option of a green, blue, yellow, red or white phone.

I have to admit, i thought this phone would be kind of ugly, but it’s kind of not. It actually looks pretty cool.

The iPhone 5S will be completely replacing the iPhone 5.

iOS 7

Two new phone announcements however are in the shadow of the big release. The new iPhone operating system. Apple is calling it iOS 7.

When i talk about operating system, think Windows for your computer. It provides the feel of the way your phone operates.

Ever since the first iPhone came out, Apple has basically stuck with the same look and feel. They’ve added some features to it over the years, but it has for the most part looked the same.

This next release changes all of that.

Before i go any further, don’t freak out, you will still be able to use your iPhone, it will have a different look, and new features, but it will still feel kind of the same.

I will have a full iOS7 write up in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Release dates and Cost

You will be able to preorder both the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C this Friday the 13th…and they ship on September 20th. The prices breakdown like this…

iPhone 5S
16gig  $199
32gig $299
64gig $399

iPhone 5C
16gig $99
32gig $199

Those prices are based on a two year contract.

Updating your iPhone to iOS 7 will come a little sooner than the release of the new phones. If you use an iPhone 4, 4S or 5 you will be able to upgrade to the new operating system on September 18th. If you own an iPad, any iPad newer than the iPad 2 will be upgradeable.

As soon as i get my nerdy hands on the iPhone 5S i will post a review! Be sure to stay tuned and check back.

To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question.

If you are using an iPhone 4S or older, i would upgrade. You are not only getting the new features, but a bigger 4 inch screen.

If you have an iPhone 5 on the other hand…..ehhh…maybe not. The only big big difference you will be seeing is the thumbprint scanner. If you have the upgrade ready, and are wanting the phone, go for it…but don’t pay non contract price for it.

For more information about the new phones, you can check out Apple’s website at this link.


Don’t buy an iPhone!

August 12th, 2013 at 9:54 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Are you in the market for an iPhone right now?

DON’T DO IT!

Not because there is anything wrong with the iPhone, if you read my blog on a regular basis, you’ll know I’m an Apple fan….but right now is not a good time.

Next month, Apple is set to announce the iPhone 5S….or 6….but probably 5S and a cheaper option maybe called the iPhone 5C.

Even if you are not looking for the latest and greatest, it is still a good time to hold off.

At this moment, most places sell the iPhone 5, 16 gigs for $200, the 16 gig 4S for $100, and the 8gig iPhone 4 for free….on contract.

Once the new phone is announced, those prices will drop. The iPhone 5 will be $100, the 4S will turn into the free phone…and the 4 will be gone.

What if you are in the market for the latest and greatest though?

The latest rumors have the new iPhone with the spec bump that happens every year. On top of that, there is a rumored thumb print scanner on the home button.

The thumb print scanner would do away with typing in passwords to get into your phone.

There is also a bump in the camera and flash expected also.

The iPhone 5C (rumored) is the new kid on the block…but don’t get too excited yet if the reports are true.

Apple is said to be aiming this device at emerging markets.

An example of an emerging market would be China, where buying phones over contract isn’t the norm. It would be an iPhone with a lower price point, with a plastic casing, instead of the glass or aluminum back of the current models.

The bottom line, if you can hold off for a month do it. It will save you some money, or give you access to the newest iPhone.


Apple’s fix to an explosive situtation

August 7th, 2013 at 10:26 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Do you have an off brand iPhone charger?

If the answer to that question is yes, listen up.

A couple of weeks ago, reports came out of Japan about an iPhone exploding. There has since been around a dozen reports of exploding iPhones.

The cause is being described as an off brand power cube. (the little box that you plug into the wall…that your cord goes into)

Apple has begun to offer a trade in program to weed out the non Apple made charging cubes.

If you trade in your old one, Apple will sell you a new one for $10. Just for a reference, these things are $30 at retail.

What is my take on this? Very non-scientific. I don’t claim to know about any of the wattage or volts involved. Common sense however will tell you, you want to make sure you use a cube that can handle the power being pushed through it.

Think of it like this, you have a big window air conditioning unit. When you turn your tv, computer and light on…it blows the fuse. It is the same premise here, except it seems to have caused a bit bigger of a boom than a blown fuse.

I personally think it’s always wise to make sure any part you buy for something is made to work for the part you bought it for.

For more information on the plug trade in, click here.


Smart phone gaming

July 12th, 2013 at 10:51 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Why can’t cell phones really be taken seriously as a gaming device?

The graphics are there…there are an endless number of games, but for me…there is one glaring thing missing.

The controller.

I just purchased Contra from the App Store. Any gamer over 25 knows Contra…and the Contra code I’d be willing to bet.

Great game, very faithful to the original…except no controller!

A game like that…that could turn a smartphone into a powerhouse gaming machine,  is held back.

Many games like that force you to make hard jumps…while shooting and dodging. It worked wonderfully on that old Nintendo controller because you could feel what you were pressing.

That’s just not the case on my iPhone. You slide your finger down (while shooting…dodging) to make the jump and you miss the button entirely.

Some of the casual games…Angry Birds for example work great, because you’re not in a mad rush to find a button you can’t feel on the corner of the screen.

What do you think? Is this holding back smartphone gaming? Or do you think it’s right on track?


Hold your phone on its side!

July 4th, 2013 at 12:30 am by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Pretty much everyone has a video camera in their pocket now. The modern smart phone has a better camera than most of the handhelds on the consumer market.

There is one simple step you can do right away to help maximize your home video quality.

Hold the phone on its side, instead of up and down.

The natural way to hold a phone is up and down, it fits the best in your hand that way. It’ll look normal while shooting it, but slap that video on Facebook or YouTube, you’ll get a weird narrow effect with black bars on each side. It just looks…off.

By rotating your phone, and holding it on its side, it’ll give you the wide screen effect that translates to the big screen…or small screen much better.

Keep in mind, this rule does not apply to taking a still photo with your phone, only with video. Photos will turn out normal.

Any tech questions you’d like me to answer for you? Shoot me an email at CEssex@wthitv.com.


Moving forward with Mark Allen

June 18th, 2013 at 10:58 pm by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

This will be a different kind of entry into my tech blog.

As you may have heard, Mark Allen is on his way to a well deserved retirement. I have nothing but kind words to say about Mark, but I wanted to share a story about how Mark helped usher a new era of technology into WTHI.

In many professions, not just news you hear stories about how long time veterans have a tough time adapting to the new. They like the way things have always been done…and I totally understand that. That however, is not Mark.

A few years back, I had just transitioned into my job as one of the resident tech geeks, and we were looking for a way to implement a new era into news using social networking and Skype for video. It was kind of uncharted water for us at that time.

Here comes Mark with an idea for one of his “Mark Allen Is” segments. He wanted to be homeless for three days.

If you don’t remember this series, Mark lived on the streets for three days, sleeping wherever he could find a place to sleep…digging through dumpsters to eat.

He went out with very limited supplies, he had a couple cans of food to start, a bottle of water, maybe a change or two of cloths and I think $3 or $4 dollars a day to live on, I forget the exact amount.

The last piece of equipment he had was a laptop equipped with a wireless card for internet. This was where the magic of this series happened.

In the past, to go live from somewhere, you needed to drive the big truck out, run cables, call an engineer and tune it in, do mic checks…ect…ect…(we still do that by the way) but this laptop gave us the chance to make it a little more real.

Mark had limited physical contact with us at the station, we would talk on cell phones to get updates for the newscasts, and about once a day go out, grab a tape of the video he shot that day, and give him a new one and swap out batteries for him.

The laptop however gave him a chance to update a blog he had running, send us photos for photo galleries we were working on, and transmit live without a team of us there.

Mark would set up his computer, point a webcam at himself and go live for every newscast…wherever he was.

Many times, during his live hits….we had no idea where he was.

It was gritty and real. We all sat in the comfort of the newsroom or our living rooms and watched this guy we’ve seen on tv for years live as a homeless person…with help of a laptop and webcam.

This opened our eyes to a whole new world of being interactive as well as the idea you don’t need a massive truck to go live from somewhere.

In my opinion Mark helped us make that big step forward, and embrace the change with so many good ideas.

We would have gotten there eventually, but Mark pushed us into this head first (in a good way) and I think we were all very happy with the way it turned out.

He is one of those people that come along…or came along and changed the game for all of us. He is not afraid to push the limits of what’s possible.

I can honestly say Mark is someone I’ve looked up to in this newsroom, and I’ve been truly blessed to call him a coworker and a friend.

Happy retirement Mr. Allen!


Xbox One, always on (kind of)

June 7th, 2013 at 12:42 am by under Gadget Talk, WTHI Blog

Does anyone else remember the golden age of video games? I’m talking sitting around the tv with your friends playing Street Fighter…or staying up way past your bed time to play Zelda: A Link to the Past. Those were the days.

I still love to play video games, I’m known around the newsroom as a gamer.

At home I have both an Xbox 360 and a Playstation 3…with a pretty fair amount of games.

This generation of consoles are drawing to an end, Sony has made their Playstation 4 official, and Microsoft has announced the Xbox One.

I enjoy change, I like having the latest and greatest…but at what cost?

The Xbox One is in my eyes, something to be concerned about.

Microsoft just announced the new console will need to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours…just to work…just to be able to play the game you bought.

I’m not going to pretend to be clueless, I know most gamers have their system hooked up to the internet…but there are some people who just can’t do that.

When I first moved out onto my own, the last thing I really cared about having was broadband internet in my home. Heck, for many at that point you are just happy to have a couch and a good dinner.

But I did have my Xbox 360. I bought it when I was still living at home, and didn’t really have any bills to pay.

I spent hours playing the same few games over and over…mostly because I couldn’t afford cable and internet, and was sick of watching Family Guy DVDs.

The Xbox One wouldn’t have worked for me.

It would have become an expensive (price has not yet been announced) blu-ray player.

I honestly think gaming companies are going in the wrong direction this go around.

Sony hasn’t released many details about the Playstation 4 yet, but I have to say, it’s looking more and more attractive to me…if they handle it right.

What do you think? Are console manufacturers heading in the right direction?