Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

The Commodore brand is back again, this time on an Android smartphone. For a premium price, you get an Android 5.0 phone with the Commodore logo on it, preloaded with VICE and an Amiga emulator, which, between the two of them, emulate just about everything Commodore ever made, except, perhaps, the products that can be emulated with the Android calculator app.

But I don’t expect this attempt to be any more successful than earlier efforts to resurrect the brand.

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Meet Waze, the crowdsourced GPS

I’ve read a few things here and there about Waze, a crowdsourced GPS that runs on smartphones, including those that run Android, Apple, and Windows. Its premise is simple: Based on how traffic is moving, it figures out the fastest way to get where you want to go. It adds intelligence to the GPS.

The trade-off, of course, is that it’s tracking you too. The data is anonymized, they promise, but it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a showstopper.

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The hidden FM radio in your phone

Most modern cell phones have an FM radio built into their SoC, but the only major makers who are actually enabling them are HTC and Motorola. There’s disagreement over whether this is a problem, of course.

My Moto E has an FM radio and an app that lets me use it. I have to say if I’ve used it, I don’t remember it. But as NPR says, there’s an advantage to it.

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A simple fix for an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t charge

I’ve written enough about the Asus Memopad HD 7 that you can probably surmise I’ve had a few issues with them. Fortunately the fix is usually simple, and in the case of a Memopad that won’t charge even after you did my battery fix, that’s true as well.

It started with my observation that the USB cable fit rather loosely into my sons’ tablets. I cleaned out the mini-USB port with a wooden toothpick, which is a common fix, but it didn’t help–the cable still fit very loosely and the device wouldn’t charge.

Then I tried other cables. I found most of them didn’t work either. If I set something heavy on top, they would charge for a while, but doing that caused the cables to wear out in a matter of weeks. Finally I figured out the tablets are just picky–or at least they are once they get some age to them. The charger for the Moto E, which has a hardwired cable, works fine. So does some other random cable I had that I never used for anything else because it happens to be so short it’s not useful for anything else. I bought some new Monoprice cables, and while they’re fine for data transfer, these Memo Pad 7s don’t like them for charging.

I really hate to say try every USB cable in the house, but… your best first step is to try every USB cable in the house. And if you have to buy a cable, buy something locally, ideally in a store that will try it out with you before purchase. If you don’t have a store with that kind of service near you anymore, then buy a cable and try it out in the parking lot in your car right away before driving home. That way you can exchange the cable right away, or get a refund, if it doesn’t work any better than what you already had.

My coworker’s car got stolen. His 10-year-old found it.

“I started my car this morning to let it warm up,” my coworker, Jon, told me on Tuesday. “And when I went back out to my car two minutes later, it was gone.”

It took a few seconds for that to register. “Stolen?” I asked, finally.

“Stolen.”

That’s not a story you hear every day. Not even in the crazy world he and I live in. Read more

How I set up Asus parental controls

I’ve mentioned Asus parental controls on its Android tablets such as the Memo Pad 7 HD, but never elaborated on them. Here’s how I set them up and why, so you can make your own decisions about how best to set an Asus tablet up for the child in your life.

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How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.

While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.

Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.

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What to look for in a 2014 bargain Android tablet

I guess I owe an apology for not writing and posting this last week, when $40 tablets were all the rage as doorbusters. Cheap Android tablets are back again, and people are going to buy them–so it pays to buy one worth having, rather than one that’s going to drive you nuts.

Here’s what I look for, and you should too: Read more

The ultimate budget smartphone: The Moto E

I wanted to like the Moto E, for sentimental reasons. The Motorola who made this phone isn’t the same Motorola who made the MC68000 CPU in my Amiga, and it’s not the same Motorola that built the hulking briefcase-sized bag phone Dad toted around in the 1980s, but the logo is the same.

The stingy Scottish miser in me wanted to like the phone too, because it costs $129. A few short months ago, the only phones you could buy new for under $130 were cheaply made no-name phones like the Blu Advance with half a gig of RAM, a low-visibility screen, a low-end processor you didn’t want and an Android that was a few versions out of date, encased in lots of cheap plastic. Next to the Moto E, the Blu phones lose what little appeal they had.

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