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What's in Your....Phone?

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Cell phones are the tether that binds much of collegiate culture. From checking assignments to figuring out who wants to eat and where, phones are as integral as a writing utensil. Our phones take care of us, but how can we take care of them?

Since there are dozens of phones in general (and certainly more released even a week from now as far as technology seems to evolve), and most people already have cases or screen protectors, let's talk about one other thing all mobile phones have in common: a battery.

In most (if not all) cases, cell phone batteries are typed as "Lithium-Ion" batteries. The average lithium-ion battery has a lifetime of 500 to 1500 charge cycles, or discharges. However, it does matter how low the charge in the battery gets. For example, if a user completely discharges the battery, the battery will degrade to roughly 70% of its initial capacity in 300 to 500 cycles. If instead the user only allows the battery to discharge to 75% capacity, the battery can go through about 2500 cycles before there is any noticeable degradation of the battery.

So it is good to keep your battery topped off. This brings us to mention a common myth. Unlike what many say, it is perfectly fine to leave your phone on the charger. There are circuits in place to regulate charging and keep the battery healthy.

The biggest detriment to your battery's health is actually heat. An overheated battery degrades much faster than a regularly emptied battery.

For more information, check out the Battery University, an exhaustive resource for all things battery.

The New Pixel

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Last week on October 4th, Google held a conference announcing the release of several new products, including a new phone, laptop, and several smart home speakers! We'll be focusing on just the Pixel 2, however you can view all of their new devices on their store page.

Google has built on the success of the Pixel and released the Pixel 2. Just as the previous iteration, it boasts a very close to stock Android operating system, with a few of Google's own goodies added in.

The Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 comes with a 5'' screen, or a 6'' screen if you opt for the Pixel 2 XL, which has amazingly small bezels, a trend in smartphones that has been picked up by major phone manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung.

Both the regular and XL version have mostly the same internal specs, so you aren't making much of a compromise if you opt for the regular Pixel 2.

Let's dig into specs! The Pixel 2 has a Snapdragon 835, the latest and greatest SoC from Qualcomm. Just like the previous Pixel, it has one of the best cameras on any smartphone, rivaling even the iPhone. The Pixel 2 has a 1080p screen, while the XL has a 2880x 1440 screen.

You can get both phones with either 64GB or 128GB of storage in the usual black/white colors, with some special colors available on certain carriers.

The Pixel 2 releases on October 19th

Why does "Our website uses cookies..." appear on various website?

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During your smooth surfing around the web, you might have seen a warning message at the top of a variety websites informing you that they use your cookies such as: "This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're okay with this, but you can opt-out if you wish." Alternatively, some websites will use a somewhat annoying popup asking you to accept their terms before entering the website. You might be wondering, "What even are these cookies?!". If you are curious what the tasty pieces of information are, head over to our past blog post explaining the electronic treats. In short, cookies are small text files that record your preferences on a website and do not contain any personal information (such as email address or name).

If cookies are harmless and every website uses them, why do we need to be notified? Lets backup, some website will use cookies to store a little more information about you. Such as what websites you've been visiting and what you were doing there. Advertisers love this information, it gives them the ability to build a small profile about what products might interest you. In the broadest sense, this is not an invasion of privacy because it cannot identify you personally. Yet back in 2002, the European Union enacted the "Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications" which forced EU hosted websites to inform their users on what why and how their cookies were being used. The directive is why websites must inform you on how they use this data.
Although cookies can be used to track some information about you, they are a vital part of how the internet works and keeping it convenient for you. The decade old law might be reshaped soon, but EU websites will always have to inform you on how they use your cookies. Be careful what websites you visit, and which sites you allow the use of your cookies.

The IPhone X: Is It Worth It?

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About a month ago at the Apple Keynote Event, Apple announced the release of the highly talked about IPhone X. This device has been seen by many as the response to the new Samsung Galaxy phones that utilize the OLED display functions but Apple decided to take this new device to a whole new level but along with that comes a hefty price tag, $999. This is not only the most expensive IPhone to be released but also costs more than most laptops and other devices of this nature. Is Apple’s new device worth its large price tag? Here we will talk about a few of the new features of this new device and you decide!

IPhone X has a stainless steel band and glass back curving into a 5.8-inch OLED display that stretches all the way across the front of the phone. It’s a bigger display than the 5.5-inch Plus-size iPhones, but with a much, much smaller body. However as seen in the picture above there is a notch in the top reserved for the incredibly complex forward facing camera that makes for an awkward experience when watching movies, playing games, loading web pages as they do not completely fill your screen.

The much wanted wireless charging has been put out on an Apple phone. You can now charge your watch, air pods, and phone all on one charger. Apple has promised to have these charging pads everywhere, from hotels to airports, the goal is if it’s a public space it will have a charging mat. The problem here is that as incredible as this new method of charging may sound it may need to be used often as the incredible power of the processor could cause battery issues.

And last but not least, my personal favorite new feature is the facial recognition capabilities. Apple's new TrueDepth camera and a suite of technologies—flood illuminator, infrared camera, front-facing camera, and dot projector—will project and analyze 30,000 dots across your face creating a topographical map of your face unique to you. No more fingerprint as the home button is gone now just look at your phone and you’re in. Along with that there is a new feature to get used to, the lack of a home button. Swiping for everything will feel odd at first but i believe that many users will quite enjoy the feature after a little getting used to it.

This new phone will deliver the most advanced mobile technology yet and will most likely set the standard for mobile (as Apple usually does). Be ready for this whole new world of crazy features but if you want them, be ready to pay for all of them.

Shadow Profiles are shady, and you certainly don't want to be in the dark

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Have you ever longed to fill your Facebook roster in one fell swoop using something like the 'Find My Friends' feature, which will take a look through all of your contacts and try to find them on Facebook based on the information you have on them? Such as name, phone number, email address, etc? It looks a little something like this:

Here it is, but wait don't try it!

As convenient as this feature is, there is something we all need to know: this is a way for Facebook to harvest information on every person it can get its hands on.

Facebook has something called Shadow Profiles. A shadow profile contains information on you that your friends voluntarily provide when they use the Find My Friends service, which scans through the contacts in a person's phone or email and takes everything you have on your contacts. This will of course contain the information that you make public, but it can also take any other information, such as a home address or a second email address, or anything that you don't actually make public, and store it into your shadow profile.

One important thing to note here is that this isn't just for Facebook users. Any person that is listed in your contacts gets a shadow profile, whether they actively use Facebook or have never used it at all.

This information only came to the public eye after a bug released information for over 6 million users. Some people who used the Facebook Download Your Information tool could see all the information that Facebook had been gathering, as well as information their friends had voluntarily put up. Evidently they had been doing this for many years, and while the bug that leaked the information has been fixed this hasn't stopped them from continuing to do it.

It should be mentioned that all of your publicly given information is subject to data-mining, archiving, and whatnot by Facebook. The real concern is that with the shadow profiles, users have absolutely no control over what gets harvested or what can be done with that information. They even mention in their privacy policy (which no one reads) their policy on harvesting data from your actions on Facebook.

"We receive information about you from your friends and others, such as when they upload your contact information, post a photo of you, tag you in a photo or status update, or at a location, or add you to a group. When people use Facebook, they may store and share information about you and others that they have, such as when they upload and manage their invites and contacts.”

These shadow profiles don't necessarily contain anything especially harmful to those who have them, but it should be known that companies have the capability of harvesting this data without your knowledge. Be wise what kinds of pertinent information you share!

The CCleaner Hack and What You Need to Know

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          If you are familiar with CCleaner, the PC security product, you may have recently heard about the backdoor successfully inserted by hackers about two weeks ago. While Avast, the parent company of the firm that owns CCleaner, has tried to allay any fears of serious threats to users of the software, other security companies have expressed concern that the hack affected more users than Avast is letting on. Supposedly, around 2.3 million users were affected, but it's unknown as to how many received the "second payload," so they are encouraging users to not only update to the most recent version of CCleaner, but also run malware scans so as to cover all bases.

          We at DormNet regularly use CCleaner to clean clients' computers before running malware and anti-virus scans, so this potential breach in security obviously created some concern. However, we have updated all of our software, and the problem was likely targeting larger entities than college students. It is, however, better to be safe than sorry. If you are ever concerned about possible malware or virus attacks on your computer, let us know, and we can take care of it.