Selecting the best smartphone, Zoom privacy, and getting help
Bob's Tech Talk
June 1, 2020
Q. Which mobile phone is the best value?
A. Although many options exist in the smartphone market, one choice stands above all the others: The 2020 iPhone SE. I am so impressed by the new iPhone SE that I believe it should be the first phone anyone considers, even current smartphone owners who want to upgrade. It is simply that good.
Technology refinements over the last few years have created a revolutionary landscape for consumers. The iPhone SE capably matches top of the line phones from a few years ago for less than half the price. Even more astounding, the iPhone SE has a faster processor than any Android phone ever made.
The base model iPhone SE packs more than enough power for any user, and there are only a handful of add-ons worth considering. An external case can be nice but is not necessary. I strongly recommend adding AppleCare for $3.99 a month. If you expect to take a massive number of photos and videos, an extra $50 will double the internal storage, which is a worthwhile luxury.
The iPhone SE is the only Apple phone that still uses a fingerprint to unlock the screen. Differences in physiology make TouchID troublesome for a small group of users, so if this is your first TouchID device, use the exchange policy if the phone does not meet your needs.
Premium smartphones continue to push the leading edge of technology forward, but the iPhone SE has narrowed the performance gap significantly. An iPhone SE is a bargain-priced workhorse that you should consider for your next smartphone.
Q. I have read horror stories about privacy with Zoom conferences. Should I be concerned?
A. In December 2019, Zoom had 10 million daily users. In March, their daily users numbered over 200 million. That twentyfold increase attracted a lot of attention, including headlines about security issues.
Security issues can be found in any tech product that includes software. In other words, every tech product. However, from a practical perspective, most of these red flags are not especially widespread. And in Zoom’s case, its problems have been addressed.
So how does a consumer identify the problems that he or she really needs to worry about? If the problem prevents you from getting your work done, or if a product or vendor ignores security vulnerabilities over a sustained period of time, that is a signal that it might be time for greener pastures.
My advice is to pay attention to news reports, but do not jump to another product lightly. Similar products have security issues too.
Today we need to connect with one another now more than ever, and Zoom is one of the best ways to do that.
Q. I feel lost whenever I try something new with a personal tech device. Are user manuals gone forever?
A. I remember the days when computer software was sold in boxes stuffed thick with manuals. I also remember bookstore tech shelves that contained thousands of books explaining everything you could ever want. That era has passed, but we are not as bad off as it may appear. There is a lot of help if you know where to look for it.
Every smartphone, tablet and laptop has at least one manual available online. For most hardware, one of those little slips of paper in the box will have a link to a PDF document that you can download.
The next option is to look on the internet. Try searching for the name of the product, the operating system name, and the phrase “user guide” or “getting started.” For example, “MacBook Pro Catalina user guide” or “Android 10 Pixel 3 manual.”
Another place to find support is the help menu built into most apps. These menus usually provide another link to a PDF manual, along with links to the manufacturer’s web site, tutorials, and context specific help.
The bottom line is that great documentation still exists, but it is usually hard to find.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Locate Software Nicknames
Enter one of these terms in Wikipedia search to look up the nickname for your tech platform. Adding a nickname to a Google search helps deliver better results.
Free Media Resources
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Some Good News
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A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.