Apple wants to replace your 2015 MacBook’s USB-C charging cable

Apple wants to replace your 2015 MacBook's USB-C charging cable

Bringing new technology standards to the masses isn’t always as straightforward as it looks, and the new USB Type-C standard Apple introduced on last year’s MacBook models is a case in point – the Cupertino company has launched a replacement program for some of the USB-C cables shipped with laptops during 2015.

The exact time period in question is from the on sale date (10 March) to 8 June: Apple has provided a handy guide to help you work out if you’re eligible for a new cable. The offer also applies if you bought a cable as a standalone accessory.

“A limited number of Apple USB-C charge cables that were included with MacBook computers through June 2015 may fail due to a design issue,” says Apple. “As a result, your MacBook may not charge or only charge intermittently when it’s connected to a power adapter with an affected cable.”

Kitted out

All you need to do to get yourself a fully working, problem-free USB Type-C charging cable is to enter your MacBook serial number (and Apple shows you how to find that too). If you registered your shipping address with Apple when you bought your laptop then you’ll get a new cable through the post automatically before March.

Not everyone is happy with the single charging port on the latest MacBook (adapters are available) but USB Type-C technology is certainly the future for phones and laptops alike – it brings with it faster charging, faster data transfer and a host of other benefits.

If you bought your laptop after 8 June, there’s no problem; and those who’ve already picked up a replacement cable may be eligible for a refund. After having to replace a host of faulty power adapters last month, Apple will be hoping that it can run through the rest of 2016 without having to issue any more upgrades to its kit.

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

Back in the good old days, the primary aim of many arcade games was to top the highscore table. Having spent countless hours shoving coins into a machine and mastering its intricacies, you’d finally achieve the coveted prize of being the very best – at least until the machine was unceremoniously turned off.

Modern gaming is rather more enlightened, if only because it tends to have a better memory – these days, high-score leaderboards and achievements are often stored online. Better, these can be worldwide tallies or tailored specifically to your own group of friends who enjoy the same kind of dot-munching, alien-killing, bird-flinging, puzzle-solving, breakneck racing that you do.

Game Center is Apple’s take on what’s become a kind of multiplayer gaming version of social networking. Not surprisingly, it’s rather popular: many tens of millions are signed up to the service, and a vast number of iOS games support it.

Depending on the title in question, you can compare scores with friends and battle to collect achievements, all the while adding to your Game Center points tally for extra bragging rights. The service also provides a foundation for multiplayer gaming. It supports both turn-based titles like Super Stickman Golf 2 and Letterpress, and also live efforts such as racer Asphalt 8.

Depending on the game, you can challenge a friend or be automatically matched with people with a similar level of experience.

1. All about me

The Me screen is your Game Center overview. Important statistics sit inside floating balloons, and these or the toolbar buttons are used to access Game Center’s sections. You can also personalise the Me screen a little: tap the speech balloon to add a short catchphrase; tap the photo and select Choose Photo to use a photo from your on-device library, or tap Take Photo to take a new one with the iPad’s camera.

2. Making friends

The Friends list can be reordered alphabetically, reverse-chronologically or by points earned. On selecting a friend, tap a game and then Points to compare achievements.

To make a new friend request, tap the + button. In the Friend Request window, add a Game Center ID/ email address and a message, then tap Send. Received requests will appear above the buttons for reordering the list and can be accepted or ignored.

3. Games collection

The Games tab provides access to recommended games (or, as we call them, ‘adverts’) and then your own games; a search field enables fast access to a specific title – useful, given that the games list is only ever ordered reverse-chronologically.

Each game’s icon is displayed, along with when it was last played and the number of achievement points you’ve won out of a possible total. Tap to access leaderboards.

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

4. Scoreboards

Individual game pages vary. At most, you’ll get tabs for Leaderboards (high score tables), Achievements (one-off in-game targets that award you Game Center points), and Players (friends who own the game). If a game has multiple leaderboards, you’ll have to select one from the list.

On accessing a leaderboard, high scores specific to your friends list will be displayed at the top.

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

5. Be alert

If you’re a keen gamer, it pays to know how to tone down Notification Center, otherwise you’ll be driven bonkers by constant updates. In Settings, tap Notifications and then Game Center.

You can then define how you’re alerted to updates, such as multiplayer moves and challenges. (We recommend turning off sound!) Individual games will also often send their own notifications, some of which will be rather spammy/nagging in nature. These can be reduced or turned off entirely using the same controls in the Settings app.

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

6. Rise to a challenge

Challenges sent to you appear in the Challenges tab. Tap Play Now to accept (a price tag that links to the App Store replaces this if you don’t own the game) or Decline to pass. To issue a challenge to all friends, tap an achievement or score on a game’s page and then Challenge Friends.

For an individual challenge, select someone from Players on a game’s page, tap Send a Challenge, then tap a score or achievement.

7. Taking turns

Turn-based games (either asynchronous or live) work on iOS in various ways, but many games use Game Center. Although you can receive updates regarding new moves and challenges as notifications, Game Center’s Turns tab also provides a recent history, along with access to currently active games.

To take your turn, simply tap an active game, tap Play to take your turn, and the relevant game will open.

How to use the iOS 9 Game Center

8. Get set

Game Center has its own section in Settings, which warrants exploration before you use the service. It enables you to define which Apple ID is used, whether your profile is public (tap on the profile, sign in and set the control as appropriate), and which contacts are used as the basis for friend recommendations.

The controls for invites are also important; if Allow Invites is turned off, your friends won’t be able to invite you to new games – only the reverse will work, assuming they have Allow Invites activated.

9. Deleting games

When deleting an app, iOS also deletes its data from your iPad. For games that use Game Center, you get the option to keep your scores; these are then picked up if you redownload the game.

Whether a record of levels you’ve cleared is also restored depends on whether the game previously saved data to your iCloud account or, less common, to other cloud-based storage such as Dropbox.

Should your business be using Google’s Chromebooks?

Should your business be using Google's Chromebooks?

Introduction and Chromebook Pros

They don’t boot up a real operating system. They don’t even run any apps at all, and many of them are meant more for consumers than a business user. Yet, the Chromebook is encroaching on the enterprise, one laptop or convertible notebook at a time.

For anyone thinking of deploying these “light” notebooks that boot directly into the Google Chrome browser in a business setting, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Chromebook pros

There’s no question a Chromebook is a good match for a certain type of corporate employee, one who relies mostly (or completely) on the cloud for data storage and web apps for productivity. There’s no reason to have local storage and desktop apps.

“If the explosive growth of Chromebook in the education space is any indicator, the potential for rapid Chromebook adoption among business users is very strong,” says John Russell, a product manager at Dell. “Chromebooks are appealing to businesses of all sizes due to their mobility, ease of use and affordability. Chromebooks are a great option for people who primarily work within the Chrome OS and cloud-based environment.”

Brian Rehg, the CEO of Blue Stingray Digital Agency, who uses a Chromebook to do development work, says a low-cost model like the Acer Chromebook he owns is a good match for the low-cost nature of doing work in the cloud. For smaller companies, there are fewer barriers to entry – such as a costly infrastructure, local servers, and management tools. A Chromebook matches up with that low overhead startup mentality.

Toshiba Chromebook 2

Highly secure

Rehg also says there is an advantage in data management. He says, as long as a Chromebook is properly configured to use the cloud for all data storage, it can be incredibly secure and there is an extremely low risk of data theft from the local device. (As you can imagine, this strategy relies heavily on encryption between the device and the cloud to be effective.)

Kamesh Ramalingam, a Senior Product Manager at Acer America, made several good points about how the Chromebook is a good match for a specific type of user. Chrome OS is highly centralised in the sense that there is not much the end-user can do to load local apps. For real work, IT handles all of the cloud-based storage and provides cloud-based apps.

For productivity, Ramalingam says there are key advantages in a fast boot time when the worker needs to quickly access web apps. Also, Chromebooks meet the multi-user sign-in capability required in many companies so multiple employees can use the same device.

Chromebook Cons

Chromebook cons

Not everything is perfect with Chromebooks. Even at a low price point, there are several serious drawbacks beyond the basic “not running Adobe Photoshop” problem. There may even be costs related to new employee training, management services, security, and lost productivity that offset the lower prices of most models from Acer, Dell, and Google itself.

HP Chromebook

Rehg noted one important con. Many larger companies rely heavily on desktop apps. For example, it can be difficult or impossible to find a photo or video editing suite that has the power of an Adobe application. He says cloud apps are getting there. There are new fully-fledged cloud apps released on a daily basis. And Adobe is working toward a future when even the most powerful desktop-bound apps will run in a browser and therefore on a Chromebook.

That’s not as much of a concern if the company already uses virtual applications delivered through the cloud using services like VMware, Citrix, or Dell vWorkspace. And, that is a definite trend – moving data and apps off the machine and into the cloud.

Disconnection disasters

Rehg mentioned another obvious drawback. Employees in a large company will be left almost completely helpless and unproductive if there is no internet access. You can’t just switch over to a desktop app, although many Google apps such as Google Drive, Google Docs, and Gmail can run in an offline mode and then sync the data later when access is restored.

In some cases, companies may find that it is difficult to complement a Chromebook with the same level of device management services available from Microsoft or other PC vendors. Russell says this is still possible, particularly for asset management, service desk, and reporting using a service like Dell KASE. That said, Russell acknowledged that some large companies require the device management tools to be on-premise and not cloud-based.

Rehg says one of the key decisions companies have to make is who will end up using the systems. In schools, there’s little chance that a student will need to develop complex applications that require data redundancy, but in a larger company, a Chromebook might not have the processing power, compilers, and graphics capabilities required. He says Chromebooks are more ideal for project managers, salespeople, executives, and knowledge workers.

Not a “real” computer…

There may be a political issue as well in a larger company. When you hand someone a Chromebook, they might scoff and question whether they should have a “real” computer, particularly if they are not familiar with the Chromebook’s advantages, like speed and fast boot times. Some users are simply more familiar with a Windows laptop (or even a MacBook).

There is also the issue of raw performance. Many entry-level Chromebooks come with only 4GB of RAM or even 2GB and rely on a slower processor, a compromise manufacturers make because the system has such a low overhead to run the Chrome OS. Yet, Russell says that perception is changing with newer models that have more powerful CPUs.

In the end, every company has to decide if there is a target market with employees who will benefit from the Chromebook. The notebooks work well in education but may not be a fit for large segments of the workforce, such as developers and marketing. However, as the tech industry moves more and more into cloud computing, a Chromebook is worth a serious look if there is a good match with your infrastructure, employee use cases, and budget.

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Techradar’s first tech loves

Techradar's first tech loves

Our first tech loves

Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day, and we at techradar felt it only right to reflect on the technology that we first fell in love with.

These are the pieces of tech that took our breath away, that we cherished, spent hours of our lives with and still hold special places in our hearts. It’s the computers, consoles, cameras and more that opened our eyes to the wonders of technology, grabbing us and never letting go.

Alright, enough with the sap. Here’s our first tech loves. What’s yours?

Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Patrick Goss, Global Editor in Chief

Rubber keys, an iconic splash of color across its little black box and stamped with words that I had never seen before – the Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum stole my (and my British generation’s) heart.

Bundled with breakout clone Thro’ the Wall and ready to soak up any basic command you could be bothered to type in, the Spectrum and the earlier ZX 81 represented our first foray into the world of personal computers.

And, oh, the games: Manic Miner, Chuckie Egg, Football Manager, Sim City, Populus and, of course, Elite, all loaded painstakingly from tape on a tape player that you had to provide yourself because it wasn’t bundled. Legendary names, legendary games and a legendary early entry in the world of computers.

GameBoy Pocket

GameBoy Pocket

John McCann – Phones, Wearables and Tablets UK Editor

With its translucent chassis, dinky dimensions and a clip-on screen magnifier with built-in lights, I absolutely loved my GameBoy Pocket. It went everywhere with me in a serious carry case for the GameBoy, clip-on magnifier, spare AAA batteries, wall plug and a number of game cartridges. As you can tell, I was pretty darn cool in my youth.

My top games were Pokemon Red, Blue & Yellow, Pitfall and Super Mario Bros – and I lost many, many hours to all of them. Worth it.

Image credit: Bryan Ochalla/Flickr (this image was cropped)

ColecoVision Console

ColecoVision Console

Dave James – Home Entertainment Editor

We had some wood-veneered Pong-y console while I was gaining some measure of conscious thought as a child, but it was the later ColecoVision arcade games machine which really started me down the path of video games addict.

Zaxxon was the word in isometric shooting and even my mum got in on the gaming with the Pacman rip-off, Lady Bug. But it was the awesome Turbo, with its separate steering wheel and pedal peripheral, which really stole my heart. My Commodore Vic 20 made me a geek, but the ColecoVision made me a gamer.

Commodore Amiga 500+

Commodore Amiga 500 Plus

Kane Fulton – Computing Editor

The big beige box looked beautiful to me back in 1990. It came with Bart Simpson vs the Space Mutants, which my blew my mind with its animated intro video – a rarity at the time. I didn’t own a console until the Sega Saturn five years later, so the Amiga took care of multiplayer duty for years. It had a massive and varied game library packed with classics such as Qwak, Golden Axe, Jim Power, Desert Storm, Elf and many more. To this day I regret letting it go.

Matt Hanson – How To Editor

Like Kane my first tech love was the brilliant Amiga A500+. I can still remember unwrapping the box on Christmas Day 1991, my eyes scanning the brightly coloured cardboard box – I had gotten the Cartoon Classics bundle which came with Bart Simpson vs The Space Mutants, Lemmings and Captain Planet.

When I returned to school after the holidays I amazed all my friends with talk of The Simpsons – which back then only people in the UK who had satellite would have seen. The only spare TV we had in the house was a black and white CRT, but when we finally got a colour TV the full beauty of the Amiga A500+’s graphics were revealed. A really special machine that unlike Kane I have held on to and still plug in and play regularly. Except the Captain Planet game. That was RUBBISH.

Calculator

Calculator

Cameron Faulkner – US Mobile Editor

Yeah, yeah. In retrospect, a calculator isn’t all that exciting. But even this most primordial piece of technology impressed me at a young age. Before I got my hands on the original GameBoy, I was just bewildered that I could press a buttons to make things appear on a screen.

Once I figured out how to do math, calculators quickly became my least favorite technology ever. Nevertheless, I’ve got to give it credit as my gateway into tech.

Apple IIe

Apple IIe

Joe Osborne – Senior Editor

This was my first, honest-to-goodness computer, a hand-me-down from an aunt and uncle of mine way back in about 1993 – ironically, the exact year that the Apple IIe was discontinued. But six-year-old Joe didn’t know any better. He saw infinite possibility in that green screen, floppy drive, cacophonous keyboard and spool printer.

Sure, “infinite possibility” then meant way better projects and book reports than my classmates could muster, not to mention countless games of Burger Time and The Oregon Trail. Regardless, the Apple IIe sparked a lifelong interest in computers and is partly to thank for my opportunity to write this very sentence.

Image credit: Marcin Wichary/Wikimedia Commons

Commodore 64

Commodore 64

Marc Chacksfield – Global Managing Editor

From learning BASIC to get my Commodore to type stupid things, to waiting 20 minutes for a tape to load up a game, the Commodore 64 was my first computer and I absolutely adored it. I have no idea why I chose it over the much more popular ZX Spectrum but the way it displayed 16 (count ’em) colors, played superior music soundtracks and had a whopping 64KB of memory meant that as a child I had one of the most advanced computers on the planet. And all I wanted to do was play Dizzy on it!

Canon Rebel XTi

Canon Rebel XTi

Kevin Lee – Computing Editor

When I first started dabbling with photography, it wasn’t anything serious. At the time I was toying around with a point-and-shoot camera, taking it out every so often on a few short and often torrid outings. It wasn’t until I got the Canon Rebel XTi that my love affair with photography really started to take off. The DSLR opened my mind to a whole new world of possibilities with interchangeable lenses, capturing action, taking long exposures and so on. Ultimately, we grew apart and I met other cameras, but I’ll always remember my learning experience with my first DSLR.

iMac G3

Green iMac G3

Michelle Fitzsimmons – US News Editor

I’ve had a few meaningful relationships with certain bits of tech, devices that when I think about them I’m taken back to a certain time and place. My Nokia brick phone, for instance, was MY first phone, my lifeline to friends and family as I navigated the choppy waters of high school (and played endless hours of Snake). But my first real tech love was my family’s electric green iMac G3.

It was the first truly communal computer we owned, and it held a reverential place in our house, welcoming all who powered it on with a soothing chime. Everyone in my family of seven, from my parents to my youngest brother, could use it for work, study or play (though we were very much divided on whether the color was cool or hideous). On it, I chatted with friends, honed my typing skills, did a traumatizing amount of homework and, finally, sent off my college applications. I have no idea where it ended up, but I get warm and fuzzy whenever I think about it.

Image credit: Nafija.shabani/Wikimedia Commons

Tandy 1000 RL

Tandy 1000 RL

Tuan Huynh – Car Tech Editor

I didn’t get my first computer until 5th grade, but my first computing experience was a year earlier with a Tandy 1000 RLX desktop with the matching CRT and Windows 3.0. It was a hand-me down PC that my uncle gave to my aunt, after she immigrated to the US. I spent my summer at my aunt’s house and always used it. Endless hours were spent playing Solitaire and Tetris. I even typed up my first eulogy, for my grandma, after she passed that summer.

It was a slow Intel 286-based system, but I didn’t know much about hardware at the time. However, it’s the system I learned to type and write on, using Microsoft Works. My experience with the Tandy 1000 RLX led to me getting my first computer, an AST Advantage 622 desktop, which sparked my interest in upgrading hardware, and has led me on an amazing career path.

Image credit: Pat Hawks/Flickr

This crazy rotating hoverboard dunk stunned fans at the NBA Dunk Contest

aarongordon11
Hoverboards made an appearance at the NBA Dunk Contest on Saturday night in pretty spectacular fashion. At the league’s annual competition that features top dunkers showing off their freakish athleticism, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon utilized a hoverboard to throw down one of the night’s most impressive jams. Stuff The Magic Dragon, the Magic mascot, stood with the ball in his hands under the hoop while slowly spinning in place on a hoverboard — one of the more popular tech gifts last year that sparked controversy after safety concerns arose related to fire-starting lithium-ion batteries. Gordon took off from the three-point line… Read More