The Coronavirus: Cleaning Your Phone 😷🧼

In the last week, The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of novel coronavirus a global pandemic. The United States has also followed suit with the president declaring a national state of emergency. In the last two months, we have seen the transition of the virus travel outward from its origin in central China, across the world to the middle east and now to its current epicenter in mainland Europe. Until the risk of coronavirus in the US declines significantly, we urge everyone to be aware of updates from local, state and the federal government.

In the effort of minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Everyone should be fully aware of the risks involved in being at large public gatherings. This virus will not infect you if it sits on your skin, so resist the urge to touch your face and be aware of what your hands come in contact with.

Your phone in particular carries many germs and its a surface many of us rarely pay any mind to. There are many ways to clean your phone, some better than others and a few that should be avoided altogether. DON’T clean your phone with bleach or other harsh and abrasive chemicals. No need to spray your phone directly with Lysol or other disinfectant as that will likely damage your phone’s internal instruments. Don’t directly apply cleaning agent to the phone and avoid using paper towels as they can be abrasive. Needless to say, do not dip your phone into any sort of liquid, whether it’s advertised as waterproof or not, it isn’t a good idea. Instead, DO use a microfiber cloth or another soft cloth to apply the cleaning agent to and use the cloth to gently rub away oil, dirt and germs off of your phone’s exterior. You can use something containing 70% isopropyl alcohol or similar to properly disinfect your phone. Apple has recently lifted recommending against using Clorox Disinfecting Wipes on iPhones and said they won’t do damage. It should be noted that most phones (major Android vendors / iPhones) have a special coating. This oleophobic coating is meant to prevent smudges and finger prints from dirtying the screen. Using products like clorox wipes, abrasive paper towels and harsher chemical will likely accelerate the deterioration of this coating. Do this every couple days or as often as you deem necessary.

Wash Your Hands
Be sure to keep your hands clean and the surfaces they touch often, like your phone!

We will be offering screen and battery repairs in our shops throughout this difficult time, as we know many people will be self-quarantined, but please call ahead if you have questions about a particular repair. We will be happy to help as best we can, but supplies may be limited in quantity due to a large percentage of parts that are shipped from overseas. Please be safe in the coming weeks and months and keep being awesome!

Valentine’s Day in November

Did you receive a confusing text in the middle of the night?

Have you recently received a text message which seemed irrelevant or completely out-of-context? Then you might be one of the many bewildered people left scratching their heads when unsent messages were read nearly nine months after they had been initially dispatched. Here at The Fix Hut, many of our employees and customers have also received SMS texts in the early morning hours of November 7th. It appears complaints are widespread, involving all major carriers with messages sent from both iPhones and Android users.

At fault was a server that went offline on Valentine’s Day 2019, with the resulting 168,149 unsent messages being pushed through when the server finally came back online on November 7th. A spokesperson for Sprint stated that server “maintenance update” during the evening had caused the error and that it had been fixed. T-Mobile was made aware and pointed the finger at a third-party contractor, also stating that the matter had been resolved. Syniverse, the company accepting blame for the failure of messages being undelivered, later told The Verge that they were “still assessing the scope and volume of messages impacted by this server disruption”.

Limitations of Short Message Service (SMS)

No carrier can guarantee delivery of SMS text messages and the technology itself is woefully antiquated, having its roots in development since the 1980s. It’s also not reliable as there is no such mechanism to determine whether or not a message has been delivered. It helps explain why the rise of applications like Apple’s iMessage, Google Messages and WhatsApp are being used on-top or in-place of SMS. These messaging apps can quickly deliver messages over the internet (using either WiFi or cellular data) and confirm whether or not a message has been sent and received via receipts. On top of that, they also facilitate the sharing of rich-media, such as photos and video, in much higher fidelity when compared to the same content shared via MMS. Keep all of this in mind when you want to share content in the future.

Winterizing Your Phone

Keep your phone safe from the changing weather!

Winter weather is upon us, and if you like using your phone to take pictures of nature or if you just want to check Facebook, it is important to know some facts about your device and the cold weather.

First off, your phone is powered by a Lithium Ion Battery. Lithium is significantly affected by temperature fluctuations. When you pull your phone out in freezing weather, it can quickly go from 80% full to 5% or just shut off entirely. To mitigate this, we recommend carrying your phone in the warmest pocket possible and wrapping some material around it to keep it warm. I like using that random single sock that lost its pair when skiing because it keeps it warmer and dryer than leaving it in my pants pocket.

Most importantly, is knowing what to do next if your pocket holding your phone gets wet. Like all electronics getting wet, the first step is to shut it off as soon as you realize that moisture has gotten to the device. Once it is shut off, get it to a warm and dry place ASAP and DO NOT PLUG IT IN. I want to repeat that really important and often overlooked step, DO NOT TURN ON THE PHONE OR PLUG IT IN! Do not attempt to charge your device until you can verify that there is no moisture in the device. The only way you can be sure is by opening up the device and conclusively seeing no moisture. If you don’t have the ability to open it, bring it to someone that can, ie The Fix Hut. After its had a chance to dry completely, you can then try to turn it back on and see what happens.

The Trap of Fake Apps

Anyone who’s used Android’s play store has seen them at some point. Applications claiming to improve battery life or “clean up your phone”, or even providing antivirus capabilities when you download them. A recent report from an Australian antivirus testing group, AV-Comparatives, found that of a pool of 250 apps tested, two thirds were ineffective in detecting malware downloaded on to a phone. Only about 10% of all apps had a significant (at or near 100%) detection rate. So, why’re there so many poor quality applications on the play store? The main reason is the relatively lax requirements from google to put an app on the store, but how can you find the right apps for you on the app store? First and foremost, look for applications that are highly rated (at least 4 stars and above) and have a large number of downloads. While this isn’t perfect on its own for learning what apps are good, it’s a start where you can look into information on it and see what people think of the app on the internet.

Antivirus and anti-malware apps aren’t the only “fake” apps on the play store though, many other applications are more or less malicious or are a front for some other aspect of the application. There are flashlight apps that are widely downloaded that operate to harvest the user’s data. An application like this should only be requesting access to your camera, as that’s what’s typically tied into using the built in flash. They could also just make your screen entirely white as well, but any of these applications that also request access to your phone, microphone, calendar, and other personal information. When downloading applications, keep an eye on what it’s asking for access to and decide for yourself if you think the application should have access to that information.

In my history of working on cellular devices, I’ve seen plenty of people come in for battery or storage issues on their phone. Sometimes, it’s a legitimate problem from prolonged use of the phone, a dying battery or a phone filled up with photos. However, I’ll always see what applications the customer has. Fairly often, I’ll see these “battery saving” apps or “phone cleaner” apps as well, and the customer complains of constantly getting ads on their phone. When these applications are removed, these problems can often disappear as well. These applications are more or less doing the opposite of what they intend to do, with the battery apps constantly running in the background and eating up more and more power, and these cleaning apps just taking up more space than they “cleaned up”. All the while, due to how these constantly running apps are working they’re taking user information and constantly showing advertisements to their user.

So, how do you as a user protect yourself? Well, first and foremost is to learn what your phone can actually do. Almost all modern phones have built in flashlight functions, on androids they’re typically found from the pull down menu where you can see your notifications. Often from these same menus you can turn on battery savers. From the settings, you can get a granular look at how much battery your phone is using and what’s taking up the most memory. Using these tips, you can help protect your own information and extend the life of your phone.