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    DOWNLOAD — Free Version: This week’s guests include outspoken commentator and podcaster Kirk McElhearn. The main focus is on taxes, and whether Apple is unfairly reducing its corporate tax burden by strategic parking of its huge offshore money hoard. Apple has selected the small island of Jersey, which has ties to the UK. In a series of statements, the company claims that it pays billions of dollars in taxes every year, and that it is complying with the law regardless of the skepticism about such practices, but Kirk is skeptical of the practice. The discussion shifts from taxes to electric cars, as Kirk explains that he owns a Toyota Yaris hybrid. Among the models mentioned is the somewhat pricy BMW i3, and the new compact-sized Tesla, the Model 3, which is still confronting problems in ramping up production.

    You’ll also hear from prolific author Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus, who talks about the ongoing fear-mongering but some members of the media about the iPhone X and its Face ID and other features. Bob explains that, despite the advertised backorder situation, he was able to buy one from his mobile carrier and receive it on the day it was released. But will he keep it? He appears to be skeptical of its perceived advantages, but will make a decision while he still has time to return it for a refund. He is also holding off publishing a review while he considers its value. Bob also discusses the use of iPads in major league baseball, and how it may have helped the Houston Astros win the World Series. He also says that you shouldn’t be in a rush to install a new OS on your Mac, iPhone or iPad, and maybe wait a short while to make sure there aren’t any serious bugs that’ll cause you trouble.

    Click to hear our latest episode: The Tech Night Owl Live — November 11, 2017

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    Kudos for the “Unoriginal” iPhone X

    November 17th, 2017

    While 2017 isn’t over, Time magazine has already published the list of its “25 Best Inventions of 2017.” Now you’ve probably read about this already, but a little explanation is in store.

    So after the iPhone X was first announced, the critics lambasted Apple for being late to the party with some of its important features. Take OLED displays, which have already appeared on Android smartphones. It’s important to note that Samsung makes the iPhone X’s display. Whatever you think about Samsung’s penchant for stealing ideas from other companies, it certainly has the chops to build the parts tech companies need, such as displays, memory and other components.

    Facial recognition is also nothing new, and Face ID was attacked for being insecure and slow even before the critics had a product to evaluate. So even though reviewers, including Consumer Reports, have praised Face ID, there were complaints about privacy and other matters. The difference is that, for the most part, Apple made it work pretty much as advertised. Yes, I know about the problems with twins and some other exceptions.

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    The iPhone X: You Might Actually Be Able to Buy One

    November 16th, 2017

    When I featured author Bob LeVitus on The Tech Night Owl LIVE last week, he volunteered that he still hasn’t decided whether to keep his newly-acquired iPhone X. Some of the eccentricities in its design, such as the “notch,” and the wider aspect radio (19.5:9 compared to the usual 16;9), may not suit him. But he decided to give it some time to decide; he’s also holding off on completing his review.

    Bob also talked briefly about his personal odyssey in buying one. He opted not to wake up early to get first dibs, and thus placed his order later in the day at T-Mobile, expecting not to see one until the end of November. It shipped almost immediately, meaning that supplies were more plentiful than he expected, at least for the 256GB space gray unit that he wanted.

    Getting one sooner than expected wasn’t uncommon. Some people who preordered right on October 27th also found them shipping sooner than originally indicated. During its quarterly conference call with financial analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the production ramp up was “going well,” which implied cautious optimism.

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    Two Close Encounters with a Verizon Wireless Sales Person

    November 15th, 2017

    While doing a ride sharing run a few weeks back, I met a sales person who worked at a local authorized Verizon Wireless dealer. I had been considering my options about whether to switch carriers, and this was an ideal time to ask a few questions.

    I explained my pricing plan, and asked what he had to offer that was comparable or better. As most of you might realize, while Verizon is reputed to have the best cellular network overall in the U.S., but it’s not necessarily the cheapest, something he had to admit was true.

    The “X’ factor on my AT&T deal is an AARP discount; I didn’t see a comparable one for Verizon. At least there’s one advantage of being older, and it applies to the core service and data plan. Indeed, this is also a reason why I opted not to split for T-Mobile; the other was my skepticism that its network will be as robust in outlying areas.

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    Apple — Destined to Become the Number One Smartphone Maker?

    November 14th, 2017

    For as long as Apple has been selling hundreds of millions of iPhones, it has always been compared to Samsung. That’s because Samsung sells more product than Apple, at least when it comes to smartphones. They certainly don’t beat Apple with tablets and smartwatches.

    The reason is simple: Apple builds a small number of iPhone models — though there are more of them this year with the addition of the iPhone X and keeping some older models in stock — while Samsung has loads of models ranging from the relatively cheap to high-priced gear. Indeed, the Galaxy Note 8 only costs slightly less than an iPhone X, but Samsung isn’t normally criticized for its pricing policies. Maybe it’s because of widespread discounts, or because it’s somewhat further removed from the magic thousand dollar threshold.

    Quarter after quarter, iPhones sell in greater quantities — often far greater — than any Galaxy smartphone, at least worldwide. And, no, I do not think total sales figures influence Consumer Reports magazine to grant Samsung smartphones slightly higher ratings even though, in several categories, the iPhone scores objectively better.

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