Ira Wilsker's archive

Early last summer in this column, I explained several of the alternative methods of purchasing factory new or refurbished smart phones at deeply discounted prices, without any long-term contracts. One of the sources mentioned was Google and its “Google phones,” which are sold directly by Google from its “Play Store” at play.google.com/store/devices.

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You may have seen the recent TV commercials for a new device from Amazon called Fire Stick, which is so new that it is just starting to be shipped. Another device that recently came on the market with great fanfare is the Roku Streaming Stick. Several other comparable devices are in development, or recently came on the market, creating a crowded, competitive field.

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I recently received a frantic phone call from a distraught individual. He had a fairly new Windows 7-64 desktop PC not covered by warranty, and it would not properly boot up. It would briefly show that manufacturer’s splash screen, and then nothing else; the screen was black. After a period of time, the power saving feature appeared on the otherwise black screen and stated that the computer was going into hibernate mode. Nothing could bring the computer back to life; a full repeat of the “power on” cycle only produced a repetitive black screen and shutdown.

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For the past few decades, an annual Thanksgiving Day event in my house was to get up early, and bring in the log-sized newspaper weighted down with countless Black Friday sale books. Admittedly, sometimes we would go out late Wednesday night to get the early edition of the paper at a local convenience store. The six of us would scour the ads, mixing wishful thinking with a shopping strategy intended to maximize the bargains we could purchase at the local stores.

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If you have a smartphone or tablet, there is about a 75 percent chance that it is running some form of the Android operating system. As of last year, the latest figures available, the installed user base of Android powered devices, both existing and newly sold, is more than Windows, Mac OS X, and Apple iOS devices combined. More than 81 percent of all smartphones sold in 2013 were running the Android operating system. For those who may be unaware, Android is an open source Google product, based on the established Linux kernel.

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