No old iPhone is left behind in this Shenzhen market


No old iPhone is left behind in this Shenzhen market

Some iPhones never die: they go to a four-story electronics mall in Shenzen, where stacks of them are sold every day.

The Chinese city is known for its giant factories that pump out millions of shiny new Apple devices. But across town at this wholesale market the gadgets are decidedly worse for wear. It’s one part of China’s huge grey market, and it helps cater to the millions of people in this country who want an iPhone but can’t afford a new one.

“You have to be careful what you buy, because you can’t return it,” cautioned a Chinese merchant surnamed Yuan, who walked through the mall Tuesday looking for a deal on the white iPhone 4S. He’s among the hundreds of buyers who come here to purchase old phones, refurbish them and then sell them to Chinese consumers.

Many of the phones have cracked screens or scratched casings, but the mall — one of several in the area — has plenty of services to fix them up. There are dozens of stalls that specialize in iPhone repair, while others sell re-polished screens and casings. Some even sell iPhone packaging, including boxes, headphones and power adapters.

Many Chinese still earn low wages, especially those living further inland, so older models like the iPhone 4 are popular. Yuan says he can make about $100 a day selling phones he’s refurbished at his nearby shop.

“I mainly just improve the casings,” he said.

One dealer here, surnamed Lu, said she sells refurbished iPhone 4s in bulk for 1000 yuan each, or around $160. Another sells re-polished displays for the iPhone 5 for 170 yuan ($28).

The whole building is teeming with iPhones. They’re stacked in piles a dozen high, some wrapped in plastic, others held together by rubber bands. Just about every model is here, and they’ve arrive from places as far afield as the U.S., Japan, and Korea.

Dealers here declined to say where they get their old phones, but an electronics seller in neighboring Hong Kong said he buys used iPhones from the locals and sells them to shops in Shenzhen.

Some may also come from companies in the U.S. that specialize in buying old electronics. One such online business, Gazelle, said it has bought $180 million worth of used consumer gadgets, including iPhones.

The company sells about 70 percent of the devices it buys through wholesale buyers, and about half of its pre-owned iPhones are resold to emerging markets.

“Apple is an aspirational brand across the globe, and consumer demand for Apple products is extremely high in all markets,” Gazelle said in an email.

Reselling iPhones can be a lucrative business. The Shenzen mall, called Open World Communication City, is based in the Huaqiangbei district, which attracts buyers from around the world who come here to shop for cheap devices and components.

But some of the business is shady. Earlier this year, a person who claimed to have worked at the mall posted pictures online showing how dealers can refurbish an iPhone 5 to make it look like an 5s.

Outside the mall on Monday, people crowded around a letter posted on a door which claimed that authorities were about to crack down on the “illegal” activities inside. The letter was supposedly written by an unnamed law enforcement official, who demanded that businesses wire 750,000 yuan to his bank account to avoid prosecution.

Yuan noted that the business conducted at the Shenzhen malls happens in the open, and stall owners pay the building managers as much as 10,000 yuan each month to operate there.

Still, the dealers tend to keep to themselves, and individual retail customers aren’t especially welcome. “Unless you know the trade, people here won’t really care to talk to you,” he said.

Unlock oodles of text-to-speech voices in Lion


Unlock oodles of text-to-speech voices in Lion

Sure, you’ve known for decades that your Mac can talk. But did you know that it can now have an Indian, Australian, British, Irish, or Scottish accent? And that it can speak French, Japanese, Chinese, and numerous other languages as well? Hints reader nathanator11 discovered that Lion offers access to dozens of new voices for leveraging your Mac’s text-to-speech abilities.

Here’s how to find them. Launch System Preferences and click on Speech. Make sure you’re on the Text to Speech tab. Click on the System Voice dropdown menu, and select Customize. You’ll see a mammoth list of voices to choose from.

The voices are broken down by language and nationality. Click on a name and press the Play button at the bottom left to hear the voice introduce itself. Click on the checkbox to add the voice to your Mac’s System Voice options.

As it turns out, most of the voices (with the exception of many of the U.S. English voices) aren’t actually installed on your Mac at all. When you check off voices that aren’t on your Mac, yellow triangle icons will appear next to them–indicating that those voices will need to be downloaded.

Some of the downloads are huge. I installed eight voices, which totaled 4GB–larger than the entire Lion installer. But if you like to mess around this sort of thing, it’s a blast: My Mac now speaks to me with Lee’s delightful Australian accent.

You can use apps like TextEdit to get your Mac to talk to you, but I prefer the faster Terminal approach: Use the say command, with the optional -v parameter to specify a voice, and enjoy. Example:

say -v Sangeeta “That’s enough mucking about in Terminal now. Why don’t you go read some more articles at Macworld?”

Of course, you can only specify voices that you’ve installed via the instructions in this very Hint.

Broforce fights off an Alien Infestation in new update


Broforce fights off an Alien Infestation in new update

What’s a bro to do once liberty and freedom has been spread across all corners of the planet? Democracy has spread, the bad guys are dead, and there’s nothing left to blow up. So what’s next?

It’s time to fight aliens. Duh!

The over-the-top 2D action fragfest Broforce has received its largest update so far called Alien Infestation, adding a whole new campaign. And as is the natural progression of the type of action movies this game is lampooning, the next step is to battle an extra-bro-restrial menace. Look for new stages, as well as whole new enemy types that take inspiration from 80s and 90s films, like chest bursters, Facehuggers, and sandworms. Additional alien content will be coming in future updates, with developer Free Lives already working on a Contra-style boss for the next one.

Broforce remains a part of Steam Early Access, but is getting a 25 percent discount to celebrate the new update. Check out just how much the mood changes in the trailer below.

DRM-free higher-quality EMI tracks on iTunes


DRM-free higher-quality EMI tracks on iTunes

Apple will begin selling EMI’s entire music catalogue on iTunes at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, without DRM restriction starting in May. However, music fans will have to pay more for the privilege of DRM-free music.

The higher-quality music will be sold on iTunes for 99p a track. Customers will still be able to buy DRM-protected EMI music at the existing lower bit-rate of 128 kbps for the original price of 79p.

iTunes customers who already own EMI produced music will be able to upgrade every track the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 20 pence a song, confirmed Apple.

The news follows Apple CEO Steve Jobs open letter in which he made his feelings known about the requirements of the big four music labels to protect the music iTunes sells with digital rights management. Speaking at a press conference in London today, Jobs said: “We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year”.

EMI is emphasizing the higher quality of the recordings. Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group said: “EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favourite artists”.

More news to follow.

Resident Evil 7 Demo Download Link Live Now, 2.7GB HDD Space Required


Resident Evil 7 Demo Download Link Live Now, 2.7GB HDD Space Required

At E3 2017, Capcom and Sony announced Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, the next major installment in the Resident Evil video game franchise. The game is powered by a brand new RE Engine from Capcom, and the events in the game take place in Rural America after Resident Evil 6. Resident Evil 7 is scheduled to launch on January 24, 2014, for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Resident Evil 7

In addition to this, Capcom also announced Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour demo for PlayStation Plus subscribers on PlayStation 4.  portrays events leading up to the main game and ties directly into the impactful PlayStation VR “KITCHEN” tech demo first shown at E3 2015. In the new teaser demo, the player awakens inside a dilapidated cottage on an ominous plantation mansion. Can they make it out alive?

PlayStation Plus subscribers can now download the standalone teaser demo for PlayStation 4 called Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour.This demo will be available on other platforms at a later date. Here is the direct DOWNLOAD LINK (Japanese PS Store).

Stay tuned we will update this post with Download LINK for other regions soon.

Update:

  1. Resident Evil 7 Demo Live No on EU PSN: Download Now.
  2. Resident Evil 7 Demo Live No on AU PSN: Download Now

Update 2:

Resident Evil 7 Demo Live Now on NA PSN: Download Now

Digital Foundry Confirms PlayStation 4.5's Exists, Here's How Specs Could Be


Digital Foundry Confirms PlayStation 4.5’s Exists, Here’s How Specs Could Be

We have a new confirmation about the existence of PlayStation 4.5: after Kotaku, Digital Foundry pointed out in a recent article that Sony is indeed looking into the hardware upgrade for its latest console and could possibly do it with three options on the table.

PlayStation 4.5

According to DF, Sony could be making a new and more powerful PlayStation, an evolution of PlayStation 4 or a slim model with a better support for 4K monitors.

With the first option, here’s what we could expect:

An APU with a higher-end Polaris would push graphics on – a 2x performance boost in GPU power compared to PS4 is achievable in a console form-factor. Possibly more – we really need to see the desktop PC equivalent parts first.

  • By default, Polaris has support for 4K, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 and HDR.
  • Console would not be cheap owing to the size of the processor – conceivably on par with PS4’s £359/$399 launch price.
  • Possibly higher depending on how much Sony pushes the boat out in terms of processor size and memory allocation.
  • This PS4K could co-exist with a cheaper ‘PS4 Slim’ based on the older APU, again using 14nm/16nm technology.

With the second option:

  • We’d see a new PlayStation playing host to the same titles as the current one, but with visual improvements.
  • Conceivably, older games may run more smoothly by default, or could be patched to access the newer hardware.
  • Resolution could be pushed beyond 1080p and could look good on a 4K screen, but native UHD visuals for triple-A titles are off the table.
  • Wouldn’t be as expensive as the first option.
  • State-of-the-art 4K media support, but harder to sell to all but the most hardcore gamers.

And the third:

  • Full compatibility with 4K screens, including next-gen media.
  • Complete ‘no worries’ compatibility with existing PlayStation 4 library.
  • HDR support for gaming on 4K displays – even if gaming resolution remains at 1080p.
  • Opportunity to lower cost as 14/16nm chips become cheaper.
  • Unlikely to alienate the existing userbase – any performance upgrade would be more ‘nice to have’ as opposed to essential.

Which option would you like most or think is more viable for a console, PS4, that still owns the market with no concrete sign of Xbox One getting closer in terms of sales?

Source

Advice from an Apple Tech: Three common Mac fixes


Advice from an Apple Tech: Three common Mac fixes

You learn a lot after four months of working at a tech shop window.

Between October of 2012 and February of 2013, I was part of the University of California Berkeley’s tech repair window staff. The Apple certifications had been earned, the time had been put in, and it was time to see if a geek who pretty much lived to tinker with Macs could help the university’s 38,000-plus student body with whatever disasters happened–especially at the 11th hour with everything due at once.

The tech window is gone now (swept away as part of a mandatory building renovation and moved to a smaller store across the street), but over the course of more than 200 repairs for the wearied and panicked tides that crashed the tech shop window, I figured that there were three incredibly common Mac problems that you can easily fix yourself or at least limit the damage.

Click…click…click

That clicking noise from your Mac is probably the hard drive, the most-used component in your computer with the most moving parts, so there’s a higher likelihood that it’s going to fail. But it’s the one thing you don’t want to fail, since it stores all the work you’ve done. So, we’d get the drive out of the computer, plug it into a USB or FireWire external casing, and then hook that unit up to a known-good Mac.

From there, we’d fire up a copy of Prosoft’s Data Rescue 3 ($99; a demo is also available), select the bad hard drive, and run the Analyze test. This is the same software Apple uses sometimes at its Genius Bar to determine if your hard drive’s about to take a nosedive. The program can be set to run a sigma-4 test that examines read and write functions across all areas of the hard drive. The test results are a good way to determine if it’s time to replace your drive.

Not the easiest news to deliver to a frazzled student whose paper is due the next day, but if you can back up their data to a thumbdrive or catch a failing hard drive before it goes kaput, it will make things a lot easier in the long run and avoid a monstrously expensive bill from a data recovery center.

The lesson to be learned here: Invest in a few items that your computer will need to protect your data and back up. A trusty external hard drive can sync beautifully with OS X’s Time Machine, keep you from losing everything, and in the event that something does go wrong, cleanly restore your data exactly the way you left it. At $99, Data Rescue 3 isn’t the cheapest utility on the market, but it’s one of the best applications around for cleaning up routine damage on your hard drive, recovering data from otherwise-deceased disks, and making sure your hard drive’s still in good shape thanks to its Analyze test.

Thus, it never hurts to mow a few lawns, walk someone’s dogs, or check the couch cushions for change to earn a few bucks and buy these items. Be prepared, and your data will thank you.

When good cables go bad

The 13-inch MacBook Pro notebook from mid-2011 is an outstanding computer, but some of these laptops apparently were made with a bad batch of hard drive cables that failed after about a year. Although something of a pain to diagnose (this one threw us for a few weeks until we saw a pattern forming), this proved to be an easy and fun fix.

If a MacBook Pro seemed unable to boot, find its operating system, or appeared sporadic in reading and writing to its hard drive, it became standard practice to take the hard drive out of the computer, put it in an external casing, then run Data Rescue 3 on it. If the drive came up clean, the hard drive cable was the most likely culprit.

If a known-good hard drive was swapped in and the MacBook Pro exhibited the same issues, then the hard drive cable became a definite suspect and an order was placed for a replacement cable (available on eBay for about $25 or from iFixit, which has an online installation guide, for $50).

The fix took about ten minutes: We opened the MacBook Pro, removed the old cable, installed the new replacement cable, inserted the old hard drive, closed up the computer, and made sure everything was good to go. Yes, students had panic attacks as no one wants to learn that their MacBook Pro suddenly can’t read their hard drive, but for a relatively cheap fix that could be finished minutes after the replacement part arrived, there are worse things that can go wrong with your MacBook Pro.

When you have a problem connecting to an external device (hard drive, printer, etc.), always check the cabling. It helps to have spare USB or FireWire cables around, and while you may not have a spare Thunderbolt cable (they’re expensive) or an extra display cable, you can borrow one from a friend to diagnose the problem.

The same logic applies to your Apple laptop’s internal hard drive. If you find your laptop is having trouble accessing your hard drive, are feeling brave of heart, and have access to a set of Phillips head screwdrivers and a known-good hard drive cable (say, from a friend who has the same laptop), try swapping the good hard drive cable into your laptop and test from there. If you don’t feel like opening multiple computers and poking around, bring your laptop to an Apple Store’s Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Provider in your area, and they should be able to resolve the problem quickly and without too much fuss.

The thrill of the spill

As good as the intentions of the UC Berkeley student body may have been, accidents did happen and sometimes they involved various fluids spilling into their otherwise-beloved MacBooks and damaging the logic board. In one instance, we never did get an explanation as to how a bottle of shampoo exploded inside a backpack and took most of a MacBook Pro down with it. In the end, we simply dubbed that machine the “Shamputer” and its tale became both a legend and a warning.

If you believe you’ve spilled anything (water, soda, trendy energy drink, etc.) on your Apple notebook, shut it down immediately, lest you continue short-circuiting your computer and thus blasting small holes through its components. Just because your computer works for a while after you’ve spilled liquid on it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Damage from liquid spills start out small and difficult to diagnose, and then over time spreads to become larger functional issues.

The best thing to do in this case is to take your Mac to an Apple-authorized service center. But if you are feeling handy and are OK with voiding your AppleCare warranty, you can clean your computer yourself. Unplug it, open it up, and disconnect the battery and all connections to the logic board. Then sit the open computer by a fan while gently scrubbing all sections of the logic board with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. Clean both the top and bottom of the logic board if possible, then let the exposed MacBook dry in the path of the fan overnight before piecing everything back together and turning the computer back on. With any luck, the crisis will be over.

Take care

The tech shop window is gone, and the undergrads need to become better at lying about what happened to their computers (hint: if the scent of Pabst Blue Ribbon wafts from the inside of a MacBook Pro that won’t turn on, it probably didn’t break on its own), but the main lesson remains: Take care of your Mac and it’ll take care of you.

See also:

Slow but steady: How the iPhone is changing the phone industry

As PC sales stall, Samsung exec has harsh words for Windows 8

Configuring Parental Controls in Mountain Lion

New call for Apple succession plans to be revealed


New call for Apple succession plans to be revealed

Apple’s succession plans for CEO Steve Jobs should be revealed by the company, an influential investment firm has said.

Reuters reports that Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has backed calls from some Apple shareholders for the plans to be revealed.

“ISS believes that shareholders would benefit by having a report on the company’s succession plans disclosed annually. Such a report would enable shareholders to judge the board on its readiness and willingness to meet the demands of succession planning based on the circumstances at that time,” ISS said in a statement.

Apple has recommended that shareholders vote against these proposals at the company’s annual meeting on 23 February as it believes that outling the plan would give rival companies an advantage. It does, however, insist that it has a “comprehensive” plan in place for Jobs’ succession.

Jobs has been on leave from Apple since 17 January, citing medical reasons. Tim Cook, chief operating officer, has taken over Jobs’ day-to-day duties.

However, the proposal from shareholders was made before the latest news about Jobs’ health was revealed. A regulatory filing from Apple posted on 7 January – ten days before Jobs took leave – recommends that shareholders vote against plans to reveal the succession plan.

“The Board recommends that you vote your shares…“AGAINST” the shareholder proposal entitled “Amend the Company’s Corporate Governance Guidelines to adopt and disclose a written CEO succession planning policy” (Proposal No. 5),” the filing reads.

“Adopting Proposal No. 5 would give the Company’s competitors an unfair advantage. Proposal No. 5 would publicize the Company’s confidential objectives and plans. Giving competitors access to this information is not in the best interest of the Company or its shareholders,” it continues.

Jobs’ medical leave would seem to make the issue even more pertinent, though at the same time more sensitive and given ISS’s comments the results of the vote on proposal number five at the annual meeting on 23 February could be very interesting.

Apple-Pepsi deal a winner – analysts


Apple-Pepsi deal a winner – analysts

IDC has released initial analysis pertaining to the US Apple/Pepsi link-up, in which lucky soft drink consumers are winning free tracks from iTunes Music Store.

The report – 100 million calories and counting – says: “As the paid music service provider market attempts to garner the attention of a generation bred on free downloading and move them to legal downloads, Apple has found a great strategic partner in engaging this group with Pepsi.”

The analysts point to Pepsi’s focus on advertising to the young, agreeing that this market’s interest can be generated by offering “free stuff”. “This will ease the transition between illegal and legal downloading and help develop brand loyalty to Apple and its iTunes service,” the analysts write.

Apple’s move is good in another way, too – it will encourage users to download its cross-platform software, so iTunes will be “on the desktops of many more PCs”.

The analysts speculate that if half the 100 million tracks available through the Apple/iTunes promotion are redeemed, “it will increase iTunes downloads over 100 per cent”. This will also increase Apple’s market share in comparison to rival vendors.

The report looks at the true strategy behind the store – increasing iPod sales. As most competing players utilize an incompatible file format, IDC says: “Apple stands to develop a built-in market for the iPod”. It agrees that if users use and choose iTunes then they will be more likely to buy Apple’s music player in preference to competing products.

The conclusion? “Apple stands to benefit greatly form this promotion and carry its momentum forward”.

Magicka Wizard Wars Casts Itself Into Open Beta May 27th 


Magicka Wizard Wars Casts Itself Into Open Beta May 27th 

Aspiring wizards seeking ways to rain down elemental destruction on their enemies can hone their skills in Paradox Interactive’s Magicka Wizard Wars when the competitive caster heads into Open Beta on May 27th.

Magicka Wizard Wars is currently available via Steam Early Access and pits two teams of four wizards against each other in staff on staff combat. Cast elemental beams, call down meteorites, throw giant molten rocks and even summon death himself all through Wizard Wars’s spell system which has players combining key combos to produce a variety of on demand abilities made popular by the original Magicka.

For those looking to show off their individual skill, Wizard Wars has also added a 1v1 arena mode during its closed bet stint where players may compete against several other combatants to see whose really the fastest wizard in the west.

Players who can’t wait the 17 days until Open Beta can hop in now by purchasing a Wizard Wars early access pack which start at $12.99.