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Apple Music brings change to streaming, but is it enough?

by Gerard Seling on 06/10/15

When Apple launches its Apple Music streaming service at the end of June, it will affect things big and small in the music industry.

Hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users in more than 100 countries will get to try the $10-per-month service for free for the next three months when it is pushed to their devices with a free upgrade.

They'll get unlimited access to tens of millions of songs during the trial, and afterward be required to pay a monthly fee for access, instead of paying for each album or song download.

"It'll change the way you experience music forever," CEO Tim Cook promised Monday at Apple's annual conference for software developers, held in San Francisco.

It could become one more thing that keeps current iPhone and iPad users inside the Apple Inc. ecosystem, while enticing others in.  Here's a look at some of the major aspects of Apple Music.

Integration with Siri

Subscribers will be able to ask Siri, Apple's mobile digital assistant, all sorts of unusual questions about music, and have any of millions of tunes play back in response.

Executive Eddy Cue demonstrated a few of them Monday, including asking for a playlist of the top 10 hits in the alternative genre, asking for a song from the soundtrack of the movie "Selma," and even asking for the top song from May 1982. (It was Joan Jett & the Blackheart's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll.")

Using Siri's artificial intelligence and one's voice could come in handy when working out, going on a jog or driving a car equipped with Apple's Car Play.

Real radio, over the Internet

In modern times, Internet radio has been defined by automated playlist generators like Pandora, Songza and others. Apple is changing that game by bringing back living, breathing DJs. It plans to run "Beats 1," a live 24/7 radio station hosted by DJs — including former BBC host Zane Lowe — in Los Angeles, New York and London. The service will be free to users with an Apple ID.

It will also offer standard genre-based Internet radio stations, this time with playlists curated by humans, instead of the algorithms that power the soon-to-be-disappearing feature, iTunes Radio.


Apple is opening a new platform for artists that allows them to release to fans content such as lyrics to an upcoming song, behind-the-scenes video, or even new tracks. Any user can access "Connect" through a tab on the Apple Music app, and can follow artists and access their feeds. Only subscribers will be able to view, save and like the content.

Requiring payment for what might be considered promotional content is new to subscription services, but super-fans may be drawn in.


Apple Music vs. My Music vs. Beats Music

Apple device users who have bought songs or albums on iTunes needn't worry. Their music will still be on their devices, and in many cases, still saved to the cloud.

Music that isn't available for streaming but still for sale on iTunes, like songs from the Beatles, can be integrated into playlists. Subscription music can be saved for offline listening alongside downloads.

And the some 300,000 subscribers to Beats Music, which Apple bought along with the headphone line for $3 billion last year, will have the opportunity to transfer their playlists over to Apple Music, at which point, their Beats subscription will be canceled.


Apple touts its human curation so much, it's making you pay for it. A new "For You" tab will offer subscribers music suggestions based on artists and genres they say they like, as well as what they actually listen to. A team of music experts is said to be behind every pick. This feature is a nearly direct import from Beats Music.

"These people are going to help you with the most difficult question in music: What song comes next?" said Apple executive Jimmy Iovine, who helped develop the service.

Better deal for record labels, artists

Music fans who have read about artists and record labels complaining about the tiny royalties they get from streaming services may have something to cheer about.

According to two people familiar with the matter, last-minute deal-making did result in a better streaming deal for record labels and artists.

Instead of sharing the industry-standard 55 percent of subscription streaming revenue with labels and artists, Apple will share around 58 to 60 percent. Music publishers in charge of songwriting royalties also saw a slight bump in their cut from the standard 10 to 12 percent to about 14 percent of subscription revenues, the people said. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals are confidential.


Apple is letting users of Google's competing Android mobile operating system use a version of the Apple Music app beginning this fall. But those users will have to pay to access Beats 1 and some features of Connect that Apple device users will get for free.

Can Apple come from behind?

Industry analysts expect Apple's biggest advantages — its huge user base, ability to sell its services with attractive TV ads, and global reach — will get the service up and running successfully.

Whether it will dramatically raise the popularity of streaming services is unclear. Currently, Apple's Beats Music serves just a tiny fraction of the 41 million paying music subscribers globally.

Russ Crupnick, managing partner of research firm Music Watch Inc., says he's not sure whether Apple has come up with the right package of services to make paid music streaming at $10 a month take off.

"You've got to really change the mindset of consumers to have them say, 'Wow, this makes it worth the money,'" Crupnick says. "I still think you'll have a lot of people who will say, 'No thanks, I'll take the 99-cent track. There are a lot of places where I can listen to music, thank you very much.'"


SmartPhone Repairs

by Gerard Seling on 06/06/15

Hopefully, this will be a simple and straight-forward breakdown of what a Digitizer or LCD Digitizer actually is. With so many people breaking their phones, there are tons of people who don't know exactly what replacement part they need. 
What exactly is a LCD Digitizer? Well, to put it simply it is NOT AN LCD. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. This is the component that actually "displays" the picture for your viewing. For people with iPhones, think of the Retina Display. The LCD is usually very thin, and extremely fragile. 
The LCD is what is responsible for actually displaying the image. This part is extremely FRAGILE and can break very easily. There is a cable at the top of the LCD called the LCD flex cable; this is directly attached to the LCD and is what connects to the iPhone's mother board during installation. If the LCD flex cable is not seated properly or torn during installation, it can cause several different issues such as a black screen, lines going up an down, faded images, discoloration, flickering of the LCD, etc.  
The Digitizer is a completely separate component than the LCD, although the LCD and Digitizer are usually fused together during manufacturing with an optical adhesive. So yes, the glass on the front of your screen is the Digitizer, and since it is usually fused to the LCD, many people just refer to it as an LCD Digitizer. The Digitizer is essentially the front glass that cover the LCD. The digitizer's main function is to protect the fragile LCD, as well as to transfer all of the touch functions (swipe, press, zoom, etc) to the LCD. The touch action on the Digitizer glass is transferred through the Digitizer flex cable, so the LCD image can respond accordingly. The Digitizer flex cable already comes installed on the glass digitizer.
This is where things can get confusing- an LCD Digitizer assembly is actually these two parts fused together. If the glass digitizer is broken, some people say you can change the glass itself by separating it from the LCD. However, this is NOT EASY OR RECOMMENDED. The best way to repair a broken LCD or Digitizer is to buy the complete assembly of the LCD and Digitizer fused together. This is especially true with the newer iPhones that come out. When a new model iPhone comes out, the full LCD Digitizer Assemblies are generally super expensive; for example, the iPhone 5 LCD Digitizer Assembly was over $200 when the phone first came out. But you could buy the glass digitizer only for about $40. Since that time these prices have dropped significantly, but the point is, if you try to replace just the glass, you run the risk of damaging of your LCD as well. Then you will need to buy a new full LCD Digitizer assembly as well. A glass only repair CAN be done. However, it is literally nearly impossible unless you have the right tools. And even when you have the right tools, you run the risk of scratching and compromising the LCD of the device.
The glass screens you see in ebay with no connections and connections are useless it's almost impossible to remove just the glass from a iPhone without professional equipment.
Just buy a screen with lcd and glass digitizer it makes the process a lot simpler and cost effective.

Windows 10 will come and be free for most!!

by Gerard Seling on 05/17/15

Windows 10 will come in six core editions and arrive this summer, Microsoft said on Wednesday.

In announcing the new editions, the software giant reiterated that the full versions of Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro will be free for “qualifying” Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year after launch.

Windows 10 for the PC is the follow-on to the widely-unloved Windows 8.1, which introduced a hybrid operating system model, running a “modern” touch interface side by side with a more traditional mouse-and-keyboard desktop.

Windows 10 Mobile, for smartphone and tablets, will also be offered as a free upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft said.

Window 10 editions include:

--Windows 10 Home: This is the desktop edition for consumers. It will include the new Edge browser, a so-called “Continuum” tablet-mode for touch devices, and Windows Hello biometric authentication, which uses your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock devices. It will also bring the Cortana virtual assistant, similar to Apple’s Siri, to the Windows desktop. Cortana is already available on Windows Phone. Universal Windows apps like Photos, Maps, Mail, Calendar, Music and Video will also be included.

Microsoft will also bring Xbox gaming to Windows 10, which will give gamers access to the Xbox Live gaming community.

--Windows 10 Pro: This is similar to Windows 10 Home but adds features for small businesses. These features include the new Windows Update for Business, which Microsoft says can rein in management costs, provides controls over update deployment, and offers faster access to security updates.

--Windows 10 Mobile: This is designed for smaller, mobile, touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets. Windows 10 Mobile will allow some new devices to take advantage of Continuum for phones “so people can use their phone like a PC when connected to a larger screen,” Microsoft said. This also includes universal Windows apps.

Other editions are Windows 10 Enterprise for medium and large sized businesses, Windows 10 Education for school staff, administrators, teachers and students, and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for business customers on smartphones and small tablets.

There will also be versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices like ATMs, retail point of sale, handheld terminals, and industrial robotics, Microsoft said. There is also a Windows 10 IoT (“Internet of Things”) Core for small footprint, low cost devices like gateways.

Other changes coming to Windows 10 to keep in mind:

--Windows 10 will unify Windows across all Windows devices including PCs, phones, Xbox One, and the new HoloLens smart glasses.

--New Desktop: Microsoft is designing Windows 10 so there is a less jarring transition (if the user so chooses) between the traditional desktop and the touch-friendly (referred to sometimes as the “Modern” interface). This includes changes to the Start menu and changes to allow Modern apps to run within Windows on the desktop.

--Touch-friendly Universal Office apps will be coming to Windows, too. Early this year, Microsoft announced the upcoming availability of Universal Office apps for Windows 10, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote that can be installed on PCs, tablets and phones.

iCracked Is Building A Global Empire One Cracked Smartphone Screen At A Time

by Gerard Seling on 03/23/15

For many people, a cracked smartphone screen represents one of life’s unavoidable annoyances. For A.J. Forsythe, CEO and co-founder of iCracked, it’s an enormous, international business opportunity.

Well over one hundred million smartphones were sold in the United States this year. Worldwide, the number was closer to two billion. Out of the new devices, about one in four will need a repair in the next 12 months, mostly for the replacement of a cracked screen. And that’s not counting the billions of older phones that are still in use.

iCracked, based in Silicon Valley, aims to be both the AAA and the Uber of smartphone repair. “People don’t understand what a massive opportunity this is,” said Forsythe. “We are not touching one-tenth of one percent of it.”

In three years, iCracked has expanded from less than 100 techs to 1500 techs throughout the United States and in ten other countries. Next year, Forsythe is planning to add another 5,000 techs. The company recently opened offices London and Berlin. Every month, a couple thousand people apply for tech jobs at iCracked. “We say no to 90 to 95 percent of applicants,” Forsythe said.

Forsythe attributes iCracked’s success to its emphasis on customer service. Unlike warranty services that require you to mail in your device, iCracked offers on-the-spot, in-person repairs. iCracked will also insure devices that are more than 30 days old, so if your screen breaks once and you drop it a second time, you’ll be covered. Yelpers give the company five stars and frequently praise Forsythe himself. “One of the most solid five stars I have ever given out (and this is review #435 for me),” wrote one customer from Evanston, IL.

Robert Stephens, the founder of Geek Squad who acts as an informal advisor to Forsythe, said iCracked follows the friction that gets in the way of a good customer experience and eliminates it. “A couple of years ago, consumers didn’t have a way to compare experiences across categories,” he said. Now they do, and they are demanding a standard of service that only a handful of companies are willing to deliver.

Forsythe, 26, had a good idea what customers wanted from a screen repair service when he started iCracked in his dorm room at California Polytechnic State University. His own iPhone was on its fifth broken screen. Forsythe couldn’t afford a repair at the Apple store, so he bought an online kit. Forsythe repaired his phone, and then he repaired his friends’ phones. He put up a couple of fliers and pretty soon he was making more than $30,000 a year.

Demand seemed limitless, and he started thinking bigger. After graduating in 2010, Forsythe and Anthony Martin, a buddy who would quickly become his co-founder, moved to Sunnyvale, CA. They rented a pink basement for $1,000 a month and started figuring out what kind of company they wanted to build. “We didn’t want to just be an iPhone repair service,” Forsythe explained. “We wanted to be a deployable technical workforce that created amazing jobs for our techs.”

Forsythe settled on a business model that relies solely on hardware sales. Techs get to keep 100 percent of customer payments. They can also set their own prices for the services they offer, though iCracked provides market analysis and pricing guidelines.

Jordan Barnes, iCracked’s communications director, said the goal is to give techs “a business in a box.” Techs can choose how they want to work, set their own hours and determine the types of repairs they want to make. They don’t have to worry about online marketing or handling relationships with suppliers. iCracked sources parts on a worldwide basis and stands behind them with a lifetime warranty on repairs. Forsythe estimated that techs are making between $70,000 and $100,000 a year.

After accepting a seed round of less than a million dollars from Y Combinator and SV Angel, Forsythe has been able to bootstrap the company without selling additional equity. Last year’s revenues, about $13 million, are poised to more than double—a rate of growth that sets iCracked apart from many of its startup peers. “We doubled the size of the network in the last four months,” he said. “So right now it’s all about catching up and supporting all those techs. 2015 is going to be a crazy year.”


by Gerard Seling on 03/13/15

A new era of choice for cell phone users has begun, as all nationwide service providers have fully implemented policies that allow their customers to "unlock" their cell phones when they change between compatible wireless service providers. 

 In 2014, CTIA-The Wireless Association adopted six standards on unlocking into the CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service ( The new standards, which are fully in effect among all nationwide mobile service providers as of Feb. 11, 2015, give consumers greater freedom and flexibility while increasing incentives for service providers to innovate. Here are several FAQs to help you better understand cell phone unlocking and how it relates to you: 

Q: What is mobile phone and device locking? 

Some mobile wireless service providers use software "locks" on their devices. These locks are meant to ensure that devices can only be used on the networks of specific service providers. 

Q: Why do providers lock mobile wireless devices? 

In many instances, devices are sold with subsidies (or discounts) in exchange for a required service plan agreement, often months or years in length, or subject to a device installment plan. Most service plan agreements have an early termination clause that includes a penalty to be paid to end the agreement ahead of schedule. Locking software is meant to ensure that devices will be active for a certain period of time or amount of usage on the network of the provider that sold that device with a subsidy (or discount) or with a device installment plan. 

Q: Is my cell phone currently locked? 

Unless you purchased a phone or device specifically sold as "unlocked" at the point of purchase, you should assume that it is locked to a specific service provider's network. This is true whether you purchase the device from a service provider, at a general retail outlet (in person or on the web), or through a third-party. 

Q: How can I unlock my mobile phone? 

Contact your mobile wireless service provider. Devices can be unlocked with unlock codes or other software updates provided to you by your provider. Some providers will complete the unlocking process in-store, others will unlock your device remotely and automatically. 

 Q: Are mobile devices besides phones locked, too? 

Yes, tablets and other mobile devices can be locked to networks. The new standards cover mobile wireless devices, including tablets. You should check with your service provider to see if your mobile device is locked and what terms and conditions you have agreed to. 

 Q: Will my provider unlock my phone? 

All service providers who signed onto the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service have fully implemented the six standards on unlocking. Participants include all nationwide service providers, as well as a number of regional providers. Each participating provider has posted its unlocking policy on its company website and will respond to unlock requests. 

Q: Will my postpaid phone be unlocked on request? 

Yes, participating providers will unlock your postpaid phone provided the terms and conditions of your service contract are met and you are in good standing. You should speak with your service provider to understand the terms and conditions of your agreement and the provider's policies on unlocking mobile devices. 

Q: Will my prepaid phone be unlocked on request? 

Yes, participating providers have agreed to unlock prepaid devices within one year of initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment, or usage requirements. 

Q: Which service providers are implementing the new standards on unlocking mobile devices? 

The website of CTIA-The Wireless Association,, has a current list of signatories to the Consumer Code for Wireless Service, which includes the new standards. If your wireless carrier is not one of the participating service providers, please contact them directly regarding their device unlocking policy. 

Q: When is my device eligible for unlocking? 

Your postpaid device is eligible to be unlocked by a participating provider after you have fulfilled the applicable service contract, completed the device installment plan or paid an early termination fee. 
Your prepaid device is eligible to be unlocked by a participating provider no later than one year after activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment, or usage requirements. 

Q: Will my phone automatically be unlocked when my service contract has been fulfilled? 

It depends on your service provider. Participating providers will notify you at the time your postpaid device is eligible for unlocking if the device is not automatically unlocked. For prepaid devices, participating providers will notify you when your device is eligible for unlocking at the point of sale, at the time of eligibility or through a clear and concise statement of the provider's policy on its website. When your device is eligible, some providers may automatically unlock it remotely. In this case, providers of postpaid devices are not required under the new standards to notify you at the time when the device is eligible for unlocking. Other providers may require you to formally request to have your phone unlocked. Under the new standards, participating providers have agreed to unlock eligible devices, provide you with unlocking instructions, or initiate an unlocking request to the device manufacturer – or provide an easily understood explanation of denial – within two business days of receiving an unlock request. 

Q: Will I be charged fees to unlock my device? 

Participating providers may not charge customers and former customers additional fees to unlock a device if it is eligible to be unlocked. Providers may charge a reasonable fee to unlock eligible devices for non-customers/non-former-customers. 

Q: Can my mobile service provider refuse to unlock my phone because I owe them money or am currently under contract? 

Yes. Providers do not have to unlock devices for customers or former customers that are not in good standing. You should contact your mobile service provider to understand the terms and conditions of your agreement and your provider's unlocking policies. 

Q: Will my unlocked mobile device work on all networks? 

No. Network technology (GSM, LTE, CDMA, etc.) varies between different regions globally and across the United States. Device technology varies to ensure it works with compatible networks. In other words, your device technology must be compatible with network technology to enable access and functionality. Because the technologies differ, your device will not work across all networks. Also devices are optimized to work with service providers' networks for which they're sold. Although your mobile device may work on a compatible network, certain features on your unlocked phone may not work optimally, and some features may not work at all. 

Q: Will unlocking my device enable it to work on international networks? 

Whether your device is locked or unlocked, you should check with your mobile service provider before you travel internationally to find out if your mobile device will work abroad. Mobile networks differ from country to country, and your device may be incompatible with the networks where you are traveling. Also, if your phone works for voice calls, some other functions – such as sending and receiving mobile data or text messaging – might not work. International roaming can be complicated. Take time to understand all the rules and rates before you travel. Advance preparation can prevent disappointments such as lack of service or unexpectedly high charges on your next bill. If your smartphone is capable of using one, you might consider buying a "SIM" card (the removable card used by some mobile handsets containing subscriber data and the phone's number) with a local number in the country you are visiting, effectively turning the handset into a local phone. However, you should check with your carrier to determine whether your device can utilize international SIMs.