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Let’s face it. Clickbait does exist and everyone should be extra cautious with what they share online.

Here are some tips from our YouTuber friends on how to spot fake news.

This video was made in collaboration with YouTube to celebrate Safer Internet Day. It aims to show users online safety tips as well as educate them on responsible digital citizenship.

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Joshua Vergara youtube.com/joshuavergara

Arun Maini youtube.com/mrwhosetheboss

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Laptops

How to upgrade your sluggish laptop

Faster performance without spending too much

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People I know would describe me as an ultimate “techie” for knowing bits and pieces of both software and hardware. Ever since the pandemic started, almost all of them ask me the same question: “what’s the best budget laptop I can buy?” — either for their Zoom-powered online classes or basic WFH (Work From Home) setup. I always respond with “how much is your budget?” and that already gives me an idea what’s the closest laptop model I can recommend for them.

But here’s what I’ve observed. Most of them can only afford laptops that are priced below US$ 500 (around PhP 25,000 or INR 38,000). The problem is clear. Despite the need for it, not everyone has the resources to spend on a shiny new laptop.

An Acer laptop I upgraded running an old Intel chipset

In certain Facebook groups, Twitter threads, and comments sections, I’ve been seeing a lot of people posting “minimum laptop specifications” as a handy buyer’s guide for those who need it. But the thing is, buying a lower-end 10th Generation Intel Core i3 or the latest AMD Ryzen chipset would still cost an arm and a leg for most consumers.

Others even refer to high-spec professional and/or gaming laptops — which most people don’t even need since they’re only going to do basic tasks. The thought of helping is there but those who are not particularly into tech still wouldn’t understand the differences between these chipset models, as well as how RAM and storage devices are different from one another.

Fortunately, laptops (and PCs) are not like smartphones that need to be replaced once the performance degrades. If you have a laptop that still works even if it’s already sluggish, this article might help you in saving money instead of buying a completely new one. In my case, I decided to upgrade our 2011 Samsung RF511 that’s become as slow as a snail over the years.

SSD is the key

Difference between 2.5″ SATA HDD vs 2.5″ SATA SSD (HDD already faulty)

Upgrading to SSD (Solid State Drive) is a big factor in making your ultra-slow laptop run faster. Most laptops are still equipped with old Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). Here’s our SSD vs HDD explainer if you really want to dive into the specifics of it.

Basically, SSD is a better option since the Operating System (OS) directly runs in that drive. A high-capacity 512GB SSD might cost more than a 1TB HDD — which sums up the logic that essential OS files and apps should be stored in lower-capacity SSDs while most of your files should still be in a larger HDD capacity since they don’t need to be run as frequent as the OS and apps.

A meme that sums it up: Fast SSD cheemtah or a chonky HDD catto

Also, SSD is a lot slimmer and lighter, runs cooler, and is quieter than the thick and heavy HDDs that always rely on spinning disks instead of a non-volatile set of chips.

With the ongoing demand for SSDs, a 120GB SSD can now be bought for as low as US$ 20 / PhP 1,300 / INR 2290 — particularly a SanDisk SSD. It’s the pure nature of commerce that the bigger capacity you get, the more you need to pay for it.

There are other cheaper brand options out there like Kingston, Silicon Power, PNY, ADATA, while the likes of WD/Western Digital (SanDisk’s mother brand) and Samsung lean more into the pricier side. Buying a more expensive drive might mean you’ll get better disk speeds (especially if you’re a gamer or a power user) but for an everyday consumer, the cheapest options will just be alright for the basic tasks you do.

Not all SSDs are made equal

I’m not talking about unequal storage size options. In our explainer, it wasn’t mentioned that there are several types of SSD connectors — but most of the common ones are either SATA and m.2 SSDs. So what’s the difference?

In layman’s term, 2.5″ SATA SSDs are those that are shaped like regular hard disk drives — that’s why it can still be used on older laptops and PCs. There’s even a smaller version called mSATA that runs on the same SATA interface.

For newer laptops, motherboards, and gaming rigs, they use a smaller, thinner, and more space-efficient m.2 SSD (almost the same size as a chewing gum stick) that runs even faster than a regular SATA SSD. But here’s the catch! There are two subtypes of m.2 SSDs that are different in the shape of connectors:

  • m.2 SATA SSD has both B and M connectors; while
  • m.2 NVMe SSD only has an M connector at the end

Image by GadgetMatch

Since this is an article meant for people who have slow laptops, I wouldn’t dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of these types of SSDs. But for visual comparison, here’s how you can differentiate them in different sizes and connector shapes.

RAM upgrade is an essential but not a requirement

During the quarantine period, I received several laptop repairs by replacing their old disk drives and upgrading their laptops’ memory sticks. In one instance, I ordered both SSD and RAM upgrades. The SSD was delivered ahead of time and just by replacing the hard disk drive alone did a lot in speeding up the laptop — even with just 2GB of RAM.

That being said, RAM is still essential, especially when opening multiple apps at once without totally closing other apps that are minimized/in idle. If you’re the type of power user who always multitasks, you will gain more with a RAM upgrade. The higher the capacity, the more apps you can open at once — of course with the help of your laptop’s processor.

Just like SSDs, not all RAM modules are the same

In the case of SSDs, it’s easy to tell which is which just by looking at the size and connector type. For RAM modules, it’s different. These RAM sticks all have similar connectors, but it doesn’t mean all of them will work on older machines. In my case, the old Samsung laptop I have indicates that it runs “DDR3 ONLY”. There are even different types of RAM bandwidth ranging from the slow 1600MHz all the way to a maximum of 3200MHz. Here’s a quick summary:

  • DDR2 configuration runs on older laptops manufactured 2007 (or earlier)
  • DDR3 configuration runs on older laptops manufactured 2013 (or earlier)
  • DDR3L configuration is a re-configured DDR3 module that’s found on newer low-end laptops but can still run on older laptops with DDR3 slots (but not vice versa);
  • and DDR4 configuration runs on most latest laptops manufactured 2014 onwards.

You can further check the configuration based on the labels on the module.

Know your laptop’s specific requirements before buying

I have to mention this for the nth time: NOT all laptops are created equal. Just because there’s an 8GB or 16GB memory available around, it doesn’t mean you can immediately buy it for your aging laptop.

There aren’t many restrictions when upgrading storage capacities aside from the type of hard drive connector your laptop (or PC build) has. I even cautioned about not all RAM modules being alike — and that also means not all laptops support higher RAM capacities.

No one can really tell the difference between a DDR3 and a DDR3L RAM just by looking at them from afar. Labels really matter 🥺👉🏼👈🏼

I recently upgraded an acquaintance’s laptop. It may look new but the thing is, it only supports a maximum RAM capacity of 8GB. Most newer laptops support higher than that, which means it’s not totally based on the year of release. This is also why it’s crucial to know your laptop’s specifications.

Speaking of, the quickest workaround I can think of is by visiting Crucial’s website where you can search your laptop’s exact model and it will give you the closest and most compatible types of RAM and storage options which can be your source of reference.

From there, you can quickly go ahead and find a cheaper alternative to an online shopping app that’s closest to your heart — whether that may be Lazada, Shopee, Amazon, or AliExpress, as long as they sell legit PC parts. And oh! Don’t forget to see product reviews before adding it to your cart and checking out.

I bought the right parts, so what now?

Option 1: DIY upgrade

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it’s hard to go out of your home just to go to the nearest repair shop in your area. If you’ve read my DIY iPhone repair before, upgrading laptop parts isn’t as complex as that one which requires a lot of tools just to open one.

When opening laptops, I just use a single, regular-sized Phillips screwdriver (the ones you can see in your dad’s toolbox) — not the smaller ones and not the bigger screw head for furniture. If you can’t find one, you can just buy a toolset in online shops and hardware stores.

What I’ve encountered when fixing laptops is that there are differences in the way they are opened. Most laptop screws are found at the bottom part of the laptop — and it’s the easiest way to replace hard drives and RAM modules.

But in another example, we also have an old Dell Inspiron N4050 laptop. I was able to add more RAM sticks by completely pulling and opening it up through a tedious keyboard removal. To make it harder, I removed the laptop’s outer shell and several flex cables just to get access to the hard drive itself found beneath the metal enclosure.

Anyhow, when you’ve decided to do the upgrade by yourself, just make sure you know how to completely unscrew and disassemble your laptop. Tutorials online (particularly in YouTube) are always helpful.

Option 2: Hire a repairman / family member / friend / acquaintance who knows how to fix laptops

If DIY isn’t workable, you can still look for people who’ll do it for you. Just remember to pay appropriately. Most upgrades shouldn’t be as expensive as buying a new 128GB SSD.

Why is it not turning on? Is it defective?

Just like any other fresh storage device, it needs a fresh OS installation. If you know how to install a fresh copy of Windows 10 (which can be directly downloaded from Microsoft’s website), rest assured it will work — and even install faster. Don’t worry, older laptops with low specifications are still supported.

To start the installation process, you just need an 8GB flash drive (or higher) where you can store the needed OS files. To not over-extend this article, watch this step-by-step YouTube tutorial.

For those who are still not capable of doing so, ask someone who can do it for you for a fee (or maybe free for those who are eager to help).

Real-world usage

There are a lot of speed tests and benchmarks out there but most wouldn’t care about specific read and write speeds as they value real-life experiences more. With my usage, the time it takes me to turn it on from clicking the power button going to the Login screen was massively cut from a minute and a half to just around fifteen (15) seconds.

Other than that, there’s little to no lag and freezing when opening apps. In my case, I was able to open apps in a breeze. As this old Samsung laptop runs with an aging second-generation Intel Core i7 chipset, it’s surprising to see that Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro are all running well.

Another testimony to how SSD improves a slow laptop’s performance is when one acquaintance told me how the SSD replacement totally helped him get over with his laggy online class and work setup due to a slower HDD paired with a low-tier Intel Pentium processor.

But where are the Office apps when I need them the most?

Online classes and work tasks require Microsoft Office services. If you can’t find an original copy (since piracy shouldn’t be tolerated), you can sign up for a one (1)-month trial of Office 365 instead. Other options are the freeware OpenOffice or real-time, online-based Google alternatives like Docs (Word), Slides (Powerpoint), and Sheets (Excel).

Older MacBooks can also be upgraded

Although newer MacBooks (Air, Pro, and Retina) cannot be upgraded anymore, older MacBook Pros (2012 or earlier) with non-Retina Display and CD drives can still be upgraded. You have options to replace your clunky HDD with a SATA SSD or even upgrade RAM sticks up to 16GB.

Just like any Windows laptop, be sure to check your Mac’s specific model/manufacturing year before purchasing essential parts. For more help, you can check out this old MacBook Pro list and their max upgradeable options.

Also, macOS / OS X installation is a little different than that of Windows. Here’s a workaround.

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Apps

How to set and use parental controls on Netflix

Keep kids away from watching obscene content

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Netflix, one of the largest streaming platforms, houses tons of content that’s both kid-friendly and R-18. With a plethora of TV shows and movies, it’s relatively easy for kids to watch age-inappropriate shows. Fret not, the streaming giant allows parents and guardians to create a separate profile with carefully selected content specifically for kids with Netflix parental controls.

These have been updated earlier in 2020, tightening security so kids can’t access content that’s not meant for them.

Setting up parental controls

Securing profiles can be done easily. You only need to open your Netflix app or log your account on a web browser via netflix.com/account.

Upon signing in, select your profile’s icon and click Account. Then, scroll down to Profile & Parental Controls. Per profile, you can adjust viewing restrictions right for their age.

For added protection, you can add a PIN on profiles for adult users through Profile Lock. This way, kids (and other users) won’t be able to access your account.

Netflix Kids Experience

For your kid’s profile, you can choose the appropriate rating: 7+ and below, 13+ and below, 16+ and below, or 18+ which enables access to all maturity ratings.

You can turn on Netflix Kids experience by ticking “Display the Netflix Kids experience with titles just for kids.”

When Netflix Kids experience is enabled, kids can enjoy a simplified interface. You can also worry less as they won’t be able to change your account settings.

Restricting specific titles

If you’re extra cautious, you can restrict specific titles and disregard their maturity rating. You can do this in every profile, accessible through ‘Viewing Restrictions’. Just type the titles you want to block, and voila!

Everything starts at home

Having Netflix parental controls is only the first step. As a millennial, I believe in having open communication and regular conversation with our kids.

Parents and guardians should always take the time to discuss the importance of these regulations we impose, the reason why we’re restricting access, and the concerns we have as they explore the Internet on their own.

At the end of the day, everything starts at home between a parent/guardian and a child reaching a mutual understanding on how to enjoy technology safely.

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Smartphones

How to: Do-it-Yourself iPhone repair

Try at your own risk

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If you’re looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to repair your iPhone by yourself, this isn’t iFixit nor JerryRigEverything. But if you came here out of curiosity (and for some tips), I’m here to share my first ever iPhone repair experience.

I’ve been dealing with tech mishaps over the years. From faulty PCs and laptops, all the way to a completely dead iPhone 3Gs and Samsung Galaxy Note5, it’s not something new to me. In fact, it was frustrating to deal with it as I’ve experienced having no computer when I was in high school — and even being phoneless for three months back in college.

If you’re too clumsy or you can’t see small parts clearly, your next best option is to:

  • Bring it to a repair shop
  • Find a friend (like me) who knows how to replace phone parts
  • Find a substitute phone instead

Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. Don’t do it if your device is still under warranty.

Check your phone’s defects

You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong with it. If you already know your phone’s situation, it’s easier to determine what parts you need to buy for the Do-it-yourself iPhone repair you’re planning to do.

In my case, I already knew that my iPhone’s battery is not in its ideal shape. Apple iOS’ Battery Health feature is actually helpful as it states whether your battery is still functional or needs to be replaced. Other than that, my phone’s display also suffered from “ghost touches” that I needed to replace it too right away.

DIY repair is the cheapest option

Phone repairs really aren’t cheap. If you take your iPhone to an Authorized Service Center, you’re not just paying for those parts that need to be replaced, you’re also paying a hefty amount of diagnostics fee and even the repairman’s labor.

As I checked on Apple’s website, an out-of-warranty screen repair for the iPhone 6 Plus will cost me a whopping US$ 149 (which is around PhP 7,360 when converted). Other than that, Apple’s US$ 29 battery replacement is long overdue. Now, it’s back to its original replacement cost of US$ 79 (around PhP 3,900).

I know what you’re thinking. Third-party repair shops have cheaper services. Still, you’re gonna pay for labor and diagnostics fees. It will also consume much of your time — and just the thought of going out amid the pandemic isn’t safe at all.

Be knowledgeable enough

 

Image by GadgetMatch

DIY repair isn’t for everyone. As for myself, I’m confident enough to proceed as I’ve had numerous experiences repairing most laptops and CPUs. I was able to upgrade the RAM (memory) capacity as well as replacing old HDDs (hard disk drives) to a faster SSD (solid state drive).

Other than that, one should know how tools work. One mistake and you might damage the whole thing. Usual problems start when you don’t know what proper screw head to use — either between the common Phillips and flathead screw heads to a more complex Tri-wing and Pentalobe screws.

Not being vigilant and careful results to stripped screws, making future repairs harder. Other problems arise when you damage flex cables, IC chips, and other phone parts that are all vital in making the phone function — just like organs in the human body.

Finalize your decision

If you’re still holding onto your phone because you’re used to your phone’s ecosystem or you still need a lot of files with you and you don’t want to switch to a slower budget phone, this might be your final call.

But if you don’t actually care switching to a new phone without thinking of the hassle of moving files and several information, it’s not a bad decision. Just pick something that’s practical for you.

Choose the right parts and buy the exact tools needed

Now, it’s time to search for replacement parts. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s advisable to buy from reliable shopping apps. In the Philippines, you can find options on Shopee or Lazada. But if you still want to explore more, AliExpress offers parts for consumers and not just for wholesalers. The only downside is the pricey shipping fee compared to local operators.

As this is an old iPhone, buying third-party parts wasn’t a big deal as long as they’re functional. I was able to buy a replacement battery for just PhP 460 (US$ 9).

For the display replacement, I was able to purchase one for PhP 1086 (US$ 22). It even came with the right set of tools, from pliers, plastic spudger, suction cup, sim ejector tool, and a screwdriver with 4 detachable magnetic screw options that are commonly used for iPhone repairs.

Note: Most iPhones are assembled in China that’s why parts being sold online are sourced from them. If it looks sketchy to you, try checking customers’ feedback. It has always been my habit whenever I shop online. Luckily, I wasn’t scammed and received the items I ordered without damage.

Let’s get the work done

After receiving the replacement parts, I immediately went on with the repair. It’s common knowledge but just in case you forgot, you need to turn off your phone before repairing to avoid technical failures.

I started by plugging my hot blower into the socket and directly pointed it at my phone so it’s easier for me to separate the display from the aluminum unibody. Then, I started attaching the pentalobe attachment to the screwdriver and removed those two screws found between the Lightning (charging) port.

And with the help of the included suction cup, plastic spudger, and a little bit of my hand’s force, I was able to pry the phone’s display gently.

Not all iPhones are created equal

As my iPhone doesn’t have an IP rating, it doesn’t come with a waterproof gasket on its edges. For the iPhone 7 series and newer, prying the display will be more challenging because of the added adhesive for waterproofing.

Weird Flex but OK

At last! I was able to lift my phone’s display. But don’t get too excited. You should still be careful with those flex cables that are still connected to the phone’s logic board. If you forcefully pull it hard, the worst thing that could happen is you ripping the flex cables — which you don’t want to do with your original display especially if you did not buy a replacement.

Usually, you only need to use a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew certain parts in the phone. But if you’re gonna disassemble the whole phone, you also need to use flathead and tri-wing screwdrivers to remove everything.

As for this part, I only needed the Phillips head to remove the metal plate that protects the display’s flex cables. Removing it will help me unsnap those cables.

Label your screws accordingly

As mentioned earlier, you might encounter screws that are completely different from one another. This isn’t totally required but it’s a helpful way to distinguish which screw parts go to which hole since not all screws have the same length and type.

You can do this by placing a piece of tape with numbers/labels on top of your working space and place them in an order you will remember. Things are always better when they’re labeled. 😉

Don’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables

Be cautious or you might snap

You can use pliers to remove metal parts that aren’t electrically-charged. Still, you should be cautious as you can’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables inside or it might damage the IC chips found on the logic board and will badly affect the phone. Doing so might not only damage your phone, but it can also make you snap hard.

Best way is to use a plastic spudger to prevent metal contacts from sparking. As JerryRigEverything always says in his videos, unsnapping them is as easy as removing LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another.

Battery removal is tedious but satisfying

Usually, your iPhone’s battery has plenty of adhesive beneath it in order for it to stick even when you’re on the move. But before prying it up, you should remove the metal plate housing first on the lower right side. After doing so, unsnap the cables just like how you did with the display’s flex cables.

If you can’t find those black pull tabs that will easily help you remove the battery adhesive, you should grab your spudger and slowly lift the battery until you see the white adhesive and pull it as hard as you can. Once all the adhesive is pulled out, it’s safe to say you succeeded with the battery removal.

Start replacing those parts

Unlike replacing your ex, replacing your phone’s parts is just a backward process. After getting the replacement parts ready, you should store the old parts in a safe place since they are still products that are electrically-charged and include chemicals that might pose a risk of fire hazard when not handled and stored in a closed container.

Remember to dispose technological devices and parts properly. Keep it out of reach children and pets as well.

Putting back what’s left

Unlike putting your trust back in another person, putting all the cables, plates, and screws back in place is easier especially when you know how and where to place them — that’s why labeling them is more important than you thought.

Some iPhone parts are designed for a single device only

Display, backplate, battery, cameras, microphones, speakers, and vibration motor can all be replaced. But for parts that require biometrics, there’s a 1:1 equivalent for every iPhone. If you’re proceeding with the display replacement of your old iPhone, you need to remember that it doesn’t come with a TouchID replacement. That iPhone part is made for a single device only. You need to transfer that part from your original display to the replacement.

If you break your TouchID (or even FaceID in newer iPhones), you can’t have replacement parts for them. Breaking these precious parts will result into complete biometrics malfunction.

Fun fact: The best way to know whether an iPhone was repaired is by checking the True Tone Display setting. If it doesn’t show that setting, your iPhone’s display is most likely replaced. Even original iPhone display replacements are not exceptions to Apple’s repair mishap.

It wasn’t a perfect repair

When you’re not careful, you can immediately break something — whether it’s someone’s heart or just the flex cables in your display.

I overdid the unsnapping of the LCD backplate’s flex cable that connects the TouchID. Luckily, the fingerprint sensor is still in its original shape that I only needed to order a new LCD backplate for PhP 261 (US$ 5). It came two weeks after because it was directly sourced from China.

But it was still a successful repair

After waiting for weeks to get my LCD backplate replacement, I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus — all with working buttons, a better touch input, and of course, the TouchID works as well. With the faulty battery, it usually lasted for around two to three hours but now, it lasts for at least a day of moderate to heavy use.

The original cost of repair was around US$ 228 (or more than PhP 10,000) — where you can find and buy a brand new budget smartphone instead. Thinking about the money I saved actually motivated me to push this through. Combining the parts I paid for (including their shipping fees), that’s a total of just PhP 1807 (US$ 36) just in case you forgot to do the math.

BONUS: I also repaired my friend’s iPhone X

After sharing my story on how I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus to my friends, I was dared to repair an iPhone X. I took it as another iPhone repair challenge.

At first, I thought the logic board was dead. Not until I tried charging it wirelessly. Eventually, it powered on — which made me think that only the charging port was defective as it was submerged in water.

The repair process is completely different — from the placement of display flex cables, all the way to the complete removal of the battery, logic board, Taptic Engine, and the cameras as the charging port hides beneath those parts. The best thing is that, the Lightning port replacement plus waterproofing and battery adhesive only cost around PhP 916 (around US$ 19). It will cost more if it was brought to a service center considering they will run several diagnostic tests that add up to its total repair cost.

Making the long story short, it was another successful iPhone repair! With little background and experience to phone repairs, I was astounded that I can replace phone parts even without needing to go out and head to a service center.

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