Written by: Omar Amanat

Summary: Smartphone models come out on an annual basis. Before you wait hours in line, consider the alternate options that are available to you.

Since the original launch of the smartphone over a decade ago, it’s become an essential part of daily life. Whether you’re a child, teen, a tech-savvy college student, or even a senior citizen, you’re probably reading this article on a smartphone right now.

However, when the time comes, you’ll want to upgrade your current phone to the newest, shiniest, largest phone there is on the market. After all, technology is nothing short of exciting. If you’re planning on making this an annual investment, here are some tips that will help you save the max amount of money.

Trade-In Programs

Many carriers are now offering trade-in programs that allow you to obtain a significant discount on the newest smartphone out there by swapping out your old one. If you already have an old smartphone wasting away in your cabinet drawer, don’t just toss it in the trash, trade it in! On a side note, if you do go decide to rid of your old phone, recycle it – it’s full of toxins that you don’t want rotting in a landfill.

Back on topic, many of these programs are available in-store at major retailers. Just receive a quote, trade it in, and pay the difference for the new model. It’s rather simple, but be sure to compare around beforehand.

Consider Buying Refurbished Smartphones

Refurbished phones aren’t just pre-owned models that are error-prone, they’re a major discount for individuals that are looking to get a deep discount on the latest phone. Refurbished models are sent to the manufacturer where the memory and data is wiped and the components are checked, repaired, and cleaned. In most cases, refurbished phones are difficult to differentiate from it’s brand-new counterpart and are often old hundreds of dollars less than the fresh out of the box model. It’s worth considering and it could potentially last you another year until yet another smartphone model comes out on the market.

It was only a matter of time before IKEA entered the home automation market. Sales of smart home and connected devices are expected to increase 500% over the next two years. So it is fitting that IKEA just announced the launch of its Tradfri line of home automation devices. Tradfri means “wireless” in Swedish and at present consist of a gateway, lighting products, and sensors.

The system uses the ZigBee link standard for connected lights. If you have heard of that before, it is because it is the same system used by the Phillips Hue bulbs. The good news is that while the gateway device connects to the internet, the bulbs and the gateway from their local network. You will not need an internet connection to control your lights.

Just like all its other products, IKEA is pricing the Tradfri line aggressively. The main bundle, which is a gateway, remote and two lights costs just $85. There is also a motion controlled dimmer switch which looks very interesting. The demo video shows the user dimming the lights by rolling the dimmer around in his hands.

The standalone bulbs will cost around $22, but there are several other bundles which are more cost effective. For example, you can also buy a bulb and remote for $34. You can also pickup up the gateway alone for just $28.

IKEA is also selling LED panels and illuminated doors which are compatible with its storage units. Making a connected that fits easily into other existing products shows how IKEA can leverage its entire portfolio of products to stake a major position in home automation.

The new flagship iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices are fast, bring the latest version of the OS and state of the art features. Unfortunately, these top-end phones also carry flagship level prices. For the majority of people, these phones are too expensive and do not justify the cost. The good news is that thanks to Android, there are phones that are both affordable and fast. Here is what to look for in a new budget-friendly phone:


Unless you buy a used iPhone, every other phone uses some version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon. The latest version is the 835. The new chip relegates last year’s already fast 820 chip to second tier phones. Both the 820 and the 810 are more than sufficient for most people’s needs.


Memory is one spec where people might have issues with what comes with the phone. The lowest spec phones come with 16GB of built-in storage. Fortunately, most Android phones have SD-Card slots for expansion. SD-Cards are much cheaper than buying phones with more storage.


The camera is the area where the newest phones have the biggest advantage. Mobile camera technology is progressing rapidly, especially on the software side. For the advanced post processing to work, the phone needs the latest processors. However, when the new Google Pixel is released, there should be a price drop of the original model, making one of the best mobile cameras more affordable.

These are the three main areas that should affect your choice of smartphone. There are others like OS updates, but such features are mostly exclusive to top-end phones.

There are so many brands with so many models of routers that it is becoming harder and harder to choose. The boxes advertise feature after feature with no clear explanation of what they mean. Here are some points to note when buying a new router or access point:


Do not be fooled by routers and other devices with several large antennas protruding from all sides. None of those make any difference to the signal strength of the device. Look at the technical specifications and see how many antennas are inside the device. Usually, three or more high gain antennas are what we want in a wireless device.


Most vendors ship their devices with their OS. The problem with vendor specific software is that they rarely update them. Some vendors use open source operating systems like DD-WRT or OPEN-WRT. Such operating systems are feature rich and are maintained by the community.


When it comes to routers, we want more than just internet connectivity and wireless. Features that most families find useful will include parental controls, bandwidth controls, device specific blocks and even a mini-firewall. More is not always better, but look out for features that you will find useful.


Lastly, look at the build quality of the device. Cheap plastic construction will not last long and eventually become brittle over time. A good sturdy router will likely have quality components inside, which should last well beyond the warranty period.

There are many issues that could affect an organization’s IT infrastructure. None are worse than network connectivity issues. Almost every other problem will have a very clear cause. Internet connectivity is usually a problem that should be escalated to an ISP. Mail flow, server issues are mostly self-contained problems. Network connectivity issues are often caused by causes very difficult to identify. Here are some of the more common causes and remedies:

Broadcast storm

The typical computer network produced a lot of broadcast traffic. This is amplified when someone inadvertently connects one network outlet directly to another. This is not uncommon and has brought down several large networks. The only way to rule it out is to do a visual inspection of every network outlet on the premises.

Faulty device

There are a lot of network devices connected to a computer network. In recent times that list has grown from mostly computers to include IP phones, IP cameras, Printers, multi-function devices, etc. When one of these devices malfunctions, there can be network connectivity issues. The fastest way to isolate the device is to run the network will all extra devices powered down. Then power them on systematically and monitor.


Every computer network should have only one DHCP server. A DHCP server hands out IP addresses to devices on the network. The problems start when there is more than one DHCP handing out addresses. This means that some devices get the right IP, with the others losing network access and access to services. There are applications which monitor a network and alert when a rogue DHCP server is detected.