Sunday Tech Byte: The new OnePlus 6T: McLaren Edition

On December 11th, OnePlus released their new phone, built in collaboration with McLaren, a well known sports car company. When compared to the regular 6T, it’s got a couple of advantages that make it worth the price. For the price of $699 USD, you get a phone with a Snapdragon 845, 10 GB of RAM, and their new Warp Charge technology. It also has a special carbon fiber finish with orange accented borders, which is a tribute to McLaren’s classic “Papaya Orange” color.

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The unboxing experience of the phone also looks to be very premium and has a fine attention to detail. Included are a special braided USB C cable and wall adapter, both in a black and orange color combo. A small clear acrylic collector’s item is included, with a carbon fiber covered McLaren logo suspended in it.

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All of this comes at a mere $699, which is priced below even regular editions of flagship phones, such as the iPhone XS and Pixel 3. For the performance you get at this cost, it’s a great purchase for anyone in the market for a new, well designed phone.

Sunday Tech Byte: What is a SIM card?

SIM cards are tiny objects we insert into our phones and often forget about them. While they seem like they don’t do much, we wouldn’t be able to make calls, text people, or surf the internet on our phones. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, which basically means it’s responsible for telling the cell towers around you about who you really are. The phone plan you pay for every month is connected to this card, so when you make a call, text, or use data, the tower will contact your provider to see if you have enough minutes, texts, or bytes remaining to complete your request.

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SIM cards are usually only used in GSM phones, while CDMA phones have a built in equivalent. They often come in 3 different shapes as well: Mini/Standard, Micro and Nano. Most phones at the time of this writing use Nano SIM cards to save space in the phone for other components.

Most SIM cards can hold a couple hundred kilobytes of data, which can be text messages, contacts, or most importantly, your phone number. This makes swapping cell service between different phones simple, as all you would need to do is take out the SIM from one and place it in the other. You would wait for the new phone to register on the network and you would be good to go!

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As you can see, SIM cards essential to the functioning of our smartphones, and have been a very useful invention in the past few decades.

Sunday Tech Byte: What is a Remote Access Trojan/Tool or RAT?

I am starting a new series of blog posts, where I will upload a new quick read on Sundays. This week’s topic is the basics of what a RAT is.

A Remote Access Trojan or Tool (RAT) is a malware program that includes a backdoor for administrative control over a target computer. RATs can be bundled with files of all kinds, such as pictures, games, or application install files. Usually, having an antivirus can detect if any malicious files or code has been downloaded to your machine. Often times however, these clever hackers bypass it using a method called crypting, which scrambles the code of the program and makes it invisible to the computer.

Once the RAT is activated, it maintains a low profile on the computer. It lurks until it receives commands from the attackers computer. Attackers have the power to do things such as track keystrokes, take pictures/videos with the webcam, steal passwords, or install other software. This is all done without the user knowing, which makes the tool very powerful and dangerous.

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There are a multitude of these free RATs that can be downloaded online, which themselves can have a lot of malware on them. Make sure to avoid them at all costs.

Only download files from trusted sources online. Be sure to keep your eye out for any suspicious files and have a decent antivirus installed, because it could save you from getting attacked by this common method.