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    Coming May 27 We feature outspoken commentator/podcaster Peter Cohen. During this segment, Gene will discuss his efforts to get decent support from AT&T wireless, which involved multiple phone calls, and frustrating encounters with more than 20 different reps. Did he finally succeed? Gene and Peter will also discuss prospects for new Mac notebooks at Apple’s 2017 WWDC developer event in June. And about Apple’s decision to deliver subpar gaming performance on the Mac? As a former Macworld gaming columnist, Peter explains what is going on, and what he believes to be Apple’s reasons for not paying attention to the needs of avid gamers.

    You’ll also hear from independent tech journalist Joe Wilcox, who writes for BetaNews. This wide-ranging discussion will include Joe’s observations about the quality of the four major wireless carriers in the U.S., as he explains the surprising result of his efforts to switch from one company to another to get better download speeds. Were there any notable announcements at the 2017 Google I/O conference in Mountain View, CA? Was it all about photos? What about the voice assistant platforms from Amazon, Apple and Google. Should Apple respond to the Amazon Echo with its own version? Gene and Joe will also talk about the prospects for new Mac notebooks at the WWDC, and is there a possibility that Apple will pull the plug on one of its three notebook models?

    Click to hear our latest episode: The Tech Night Owl Live — May 20, 2017

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    More Problems for Samsung

    May 26th, 2017

    I rather expect this column won’t get near the attention if would receive had I titled it, “More Problems for Apple.” But a lot of that is just fake news, and I’m not interested. I strive to make genuine criticisms of Apple, and there are plenty of things to talk about.

    This time, however, Samsung has a lot of explaining to do — once again.

    First, there are those flawed security systems for the Galaxy S8 smartphone. It has three different biometric schemes to secure the handset, which is supposed to be a good thing. But that’s true only if they work properly.

    So before the Galaxy S8 even went on sale, legitimate questions were raised about the placement of its fingerprint sensor, in the rear. It was so easy to accidentally touch the camera lens instead, you might want to have a tissue handy in case you want to clean it. I’m not at all sure how robust it is, but I’ll assume it otherwise functions properly.

    Continue Reading...

    Why is AT&T’s Customer Support So Bad? Let Me Count 19 Ways!

    May 25th, 2017

    Before two companies merge, promises are made. It’s often about “synergy,” being more efficient, being more competitive. Quite often, it’s more about eliminating competition, gaining more control over a market.

    At the end of the day, however, these mergers may end up doing more harm than good. Consider all those airline mergers. Nowadays, flights are crowded, fares aren’t quite as cheap, and you have to pay extra for luggage, something that was once free. And bad food has become worse, if that’s possible.

    Besides, it’s not as if you can just fly on a competing airline. In many cases, there isn’t one.

    And don’t get me started about poor customer service, because that’s a given in a combined company.

    So The Night Owl was offered a discount with AT&T Wireless in connection with one of my part-time gigs. So I went to AT&T’s partner site to apply as an existing customer.

    Three months later, still no discount.

    Continue Reading...

    The Slowness of WWDC Speculation

    May 24th, 2017

    As I write this column, we’re only days away from the WWDC keynote, which is scheduled for Monday June 5th. Tech pundits have been looking at Apple’s media invitation for the event, desperately seeking clues, but guesses about what’ll happen are only narrowly focused.

    Obviously, Apple may surprise us in some ways, but these events tend to be very predictable in most respects. By the time the day of the keynote arrives, most of the expected announcements are fairly obvious. There will be a few surprises, no doubt, but not as many as there used to be.

    This is particularly true of hardware. When new gear is due, dealer supplies will suddenly dry up. But that sometimes happens even when we’re between product cycles as inventories fluctuate. Besides, new hardware at a WWDC is not always a given. But this year, with a dearth of new iPads and Macs, things may change.

    So I’ve culled a few of the most probable product intros.

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    The Mac-with-Touchscreen Argument Revisited

    May 22nd, 2017

    Just the other day, I read an article from a somewhat confused pundit that started with some accurate statements. But it then went off the rails.

    So it correctly pointed out that Mac sales were up in the March quarter, whereas Microsoft Surface declined. This despite the arrival of the $2,999.99 Surface Studio all-in-one, a touchscreen-based PC that the critics claimed that Apple should emulate.

    Things start to go astray in this article when the reader was informed that PCs with touchscreens are the only success stories on the Windows platform. This is the sort of claim that’s difficult to pin down, because PC makers don’t routinely break down sales by model or model configuration. The percentage of machines with touchscreens may indeed be higher as a product mix, so therefore you’d think they are more popular. But most people buy the cheaper models that don’t offer such extras.

    Besides, I’ve read other reports claiming that 2-in-1 PCs aren’t doing so well, perhaps because they are more expensive, and that’s not where the market has moved.

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