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Older-model Pixel phones plenty good for many people

by JOY SCHWABACH | August 22, 2020 at 1:57 a.m.

The new Google Pixel 5, coming out in October, will have a new camera and a powerful processor. But if you're like me, you don't care about that.

My lower-resolution camera takes more flattering pictures. As for processing speed, I never have umpteen apps going on at the same time anyway, so I don't need that much power. Instead of spending $699 for the new Pixel 5, I'll stick to my Pixel 2. (A used one can be had for about $120.) Pixel phones get the latest updates as soon as they're available, unlike most Android phones. Here are some features I like:

Live Caption allows you to see captions during phone calls. That way you can turn the volume way down to thwart eavesdropping. Start it up by tapping "Settings," "Sound," and "Live Caption."

Call Screen removes junk calls. It asks callers to state their business in a few words. Most telemarketers will hang up immediately. If they stay on the line, you'll see a live transcript instead of hearing them. You can usually tell whether to accept or reject the call before they've said half a sentence. For example: "Extend your auto warranty." (Even on a 20-year-old Honda?) Besides Pixel phones, Call Screen is available on the Moto G7 and Motorola One.


Everyone says online education isn't the same as in-person learning. Maybe it's better.

Recently, I joined a course from Hult International Business School that my brother teaches over Zoom, the video conferencing software. It was much more exciting than any college class I've ever been in, with students from all over the world.

In Zoom, you can text the professor, the whole class and individual students while the teacher is still talking. This gets the shyest person in the room involved. The layout is like the old show "Hollywood Squares." It's so much nicer than an in-person class. There, when someone raises their hand, you're either looking at the back of their head or you can't see them at all.

I love the interactivity of Zoom. An online quiz, for example, asked whether local businesses do better than global ones in various situations. Most of us said global, except when it comes to local culture. But according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., local firms are better in nearly every situation. So I texted the class: "I wonder why global businesses are so successful if local businesses are so much better." A student wrote, "I wondered that too, Joy."

Every so often, Zoom separated us into groups of two or three, where we could voice our opinions one-on-one. My brother popped into each group for a few seconds to make sure everyone was on task.

With Indian music and a Taj Mahal background, he looked like he was in India while we talked about Indian firms. It was so entertaining: The three-hour session passed in a snap. Zoom, and other video conferencing systems such as Google Meet, are here to stay.


A friend wrote, "We have had four Seagate drives crash recently." What a disaster.

Four years ago, a class-action suit was filed against Seagate for severe reliability problems. Most at fault was their three-terabyte BarraCuda solid state drive. A backup service called Backblaze tested 50,000 drives, discovering that the failure rate was 100% for some products over a given period. However, in 2019, a judge decided against letting the case against Seagate proceed.

This year, however, when Backblaze tested 129,764 hard drives, none of the 16-terabyte Seagate drives failed, and the smaller-capacity Seagate drives failed just over 1% of the time. The brand HGST did well too, as did Toshiba. Most drives last at least five years.


I rarely check my Instagram account. So I nearly missed out on my young relative's vacation pictures from Wales. Here's how to be on top of things:

Notifications: Turn them on by tapping your tiny profile picture in the lower right. Then tap "Following." Next, tap the three vertical dots next to someone's name, and tap "Manage Notifications." Turn on the switch next to "Posts," "Stories" and "IGTV," which stands for Instagram TV.

Collections: When a friend or relative posts a picture you want to save, tap the bookmark symbol. To see your saved collection, tap the home icon, then tap your profile picture in the lower right of the screen. Then tap the hamburger icon (three lines in the upper right) and choose "Saved." Return to your collection any time by tapping your profile picture, hamburger icon and "Saved."

Close Friends list: Instagram makes it easy to share photos with just your closest friends instead of your whole list. Tap your profile picture in the lower right. Then tap the hamburger icon (three stacked lines). Now tap "Close Friends." Next to each name you want on your close friends list, tap "Add." Later, if you change your mind, come back and tap "Remove." When you want to send a photo, one of your options will be "Close Friends."

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at [email protected]


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