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JR Raphael
Works at Computerworld, Android Power, et al.
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Syndicated writer. Author of Android Power. Occasional exotic dancer.
Introduction

I write about Android, Chrome OS, and other titillating technology. You may have seen me in such places as PCWorld, Computerworld, and SeaWorld (hey, that Shamu is all right). I'm the guy behind Android Power and eSarcasm, voted 0.2 times as the best geek-humor website in the world. I also make one hell of a turkey sandwich.

In my spare time, I enjoy flossing, staring blankly, and writing about flossing and staring blankly.

If you'd like to stalk me, consider these helpful starting points:

• My website: jrstart.com
• My Twitter account: @JRRaphael
• The webcam installed on my left fibula [not yet available]

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I was once honored by the American Mustache Institute. Seriously -- see here: http://goo.gl/DOv36
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JR Raphael

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I'm not seeing podcasts in Google Play Music yet, but I did notice something interesting just now...

Look in the menu on the left side of the app. See where it says "Music library"? That same line said "My library" up til today.

Sure seems to line up with everything else we're hearing about podcasts coming into the service any day now, eh? Looks like the path is being paved... 
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+Tim Neumark I think this is a play for the "average user" that doesn't know how to seek out a podcast app. There's a reason why an overwhelming percentage of people on iOS listen to podcasts on the included (and possibly terrible?) Podcasts app. Because it's as low friction as possible to start listening.
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JR Raphael

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There's a troubling message lurking within SwiftKey's sale to Microsoft, and it's one we all need to take some time to consider.

Some food for thought:
There's a troubling message lurking within SwiftKey's sale to Microsoft, and it's one we all need to take some time to consider.
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Outstanding discussion, difficult issue. Not sure what the answer will be. How do we find that balance being profitable and still offering value that retains users? Churn eventually kills profitability.

Subs sounds like an answer as a publisher, but so long as your users find value in it. As a consumer though, just how many subs are you willing to pay for? Where's that tipping point?

Myself I gladly buy every app I can in the Play Store... pro features, ad-free, support the dev. But subs... very few. Admittedly prefer doing less with a paid app, than paying for a subbed app. If a publisher chooses to use a sub business model, more power to them. But as a consumer, I have to pick and choose whose business model provides value to me.

Not just app devs, but every business wants continuing repeat revenue. 
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JR Raphael

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Microsoft acquiring SwiftKey?

Not sure I like the sounds of this... :/

(Keep in mind that it's not yet confirmed.)

UPDATE: It's official -- and it sounds like it might maybe be okay? Info here: https://plus.google.com/+JRRaphael/posts/D6qYCthW2WN
Microsoft is paying around $250m to acquire London-based Swiftkey, maker of a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence that is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, according to people familiar with the deal. Jon Reynolds
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Yeah, bloody MS, taking that thriving Nokia business and utterly destroying it inside a couple of years. Vale, strong and robust Nokia. (Blame Ballmer (yes, really) for being an idiot, there, quite clearly.)
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JR Raphael

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Read. Commit. Pass it on. This sort of silliness doesn't serve any of us well.
It's time for us as consumers to get our priorities straight.
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While it may be possible to vary within an ecosystem, for some, making a switch can be very expensive so the tradeoff isn't worth the expense.  I may flip between Samsung, LG, or Sony but leaving Android and ChromeOS presents a bigger, cost prohibitive challenge.  I may like what Apple or Windows does today but as companies improve their offerings, switching every couple of years is not a reasonable expectation for most users.  

It's like buying a new car every 2 years because the newer models has better features.  It doesn't matter that I've got a Honda now and the Nissan has better performance.  I can't afford to switch based solely on marginal improvements of another manufacturer.   

I think you have to weigh the benefits you would get from making a switch to determine if those benefits outweigh the costs.  It's not always $$$.  There's time invested in learning the interface, possibly new accessories and any unforeseen connections you have with friends/family.
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JR Raphael

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Question: Does anyone know of a way to check the expiration date of one's Google Play balance (i.e. credits)?

I know I've found a way to do it before but can't for the life of me find it again. Did it randomly disappear, or am I just missing it now?

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who weighed in. See the final comment on this post for the resolution!
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The resolution (sort of):

For anyone wondering, Play Store support was able to look this info up and provide it to me (via a follow-up email after I called into the customer support line).

No idea why the info is no longer readily accessible within Wallet, as it used to be, but it appears to be something related to having a U.S. account -- as no one else I've heard from with a U.S. account is able to see it, either, but people with accounts in other countries do still see it normally. 

In any case, if you're in the U.S. and need to see when you have Play Store credit expiring -- in a simple, single-number sense that includes both Rewards credit and any credit from device purchase freebies --  it looks like you'll have to contact Play Store support for now.

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this! Closing down the comments on this post now to avoid any further confusion on the matter.

JR Raphael

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DROP EVERYTHING AND RUN! Actually, don't. An important reminder (and one worth resharing).
But here's the dirty little secret security software vendors don't want you to know: There's really no reason to be scared.
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Rob K
 
IMHO Google should mandate OEMs, to have a flashable vanilla version of Android available on all of their devices. Let the user decide, if it wants the OEM version or the Google one. This way all the users who chose to go full Google, could get the latest versions with the latest patches much faster. I know this is not as easy as it first sounds, but it would be a step in the right direction... 
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JR Raphael

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Question of the day: Which is more likely to cause the downfall of civilized society?

1. Public Speakerphone Douche -- the Wrist-Talking Jackass Edition™

2. See image.
658 votes  -  votes visible to Public
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66%
#1
34%
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VR is okay because it's done in the privacy of your home and not in public. So I vote #1
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JR Raphael

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Hey, look -- Android Wear's Marshmallow update is officially on the way!

Highlights include a few new wrist gestures, spoken command support for a bunch of new messaging apps, and external speaker support for devices that allow it (just the Huawei Watch and ZenWatch 2 as of now).

Yes, that means that with the right device, you'll actually be able to make and receive calls over Bluetooth...for better or for worse (see item #5, the "'Come on -- really?' factor," here: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2988620).

Full info at the link below.
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+Stephen Angelico Probably because you look like a complete fool holding a big ass tablet to take a picture. Honestly, I don't judge.

But calling on your watch is very silly and should only be done when you're alone. That's just me.
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JR Raphael

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Some promising, er, promises from Microsoft and +SwiftKey regarding the future of SwiftKey's Android app...

Plus some hints about Microsoft's underlying goals with the acquisition.

(Yes, it's now officially official: https://blog.swiftkey.com/microsoft-acquires-swiftkey + http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/02/03/microsoft-acquires-swiftkey-in-support-of-re-inventing-productivity-ambition)
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Microsoft is desperate and clearly they no longer have the innovation to succeed in this new digital.. Maybe they don't want to bring in new blood.. Maybe they don't want to share that money.. Maybe they just cannot accept defeat.. Almost every tech savvy person sees Linux replacing Windows.. It just may be Android to do so.. Google still needs to up it's game.. But the Chromebook seems efficient enough to anything someone may need when using a computer..
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JR Raphael

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The "Google Now bathroom mirror" is pretty awesome.

Fingers crossed a selfie function is never added, though. 
When I couldn’t buy a smart mirror and made one instead
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+Randy Arrowood I do. Am getting shelves next month. 
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JR Raphael

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Bad USB-C accessories are no joke, folks.
 
Hi everyone. The cable reviews are going to slow down a little bit due to an incident that happened with one cable...

A cable managed to destroy my test equipment, including my $1499 Pixel 2. I've done an analysis of the failure, and it's a really bad mistake they made.

Needless to say, I am very unhappy, and this is going to affect how quickly I get through cables and other accessories in the short term since my computer is dead.

#USBC  
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+Mark Leznik May not be necessary: In a comment in this post [ https://plus.google.com/+BensonLeung/posts/EBGMagC46fN ], +Benson Leung says: "My team at Google will examine the system and learn from what failed, and i'm sure i'll find another system to do testing."
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JR Raphael

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I wonder how often calls for Google Fiber get routed to the Fi team by mistake.

"Yes, I'm trying to reach someone from Fi--"

"PLEASE HOLD"
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