Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cyclist Can Ride Smart with SmartHalo

Are you looking for a way to step up your urban cycling experience? The urban mobility technology innovator, SmartHalo Technologies Inc., may have just launched the perfect product for you - the SmartHalo biking system.


SmartHalo, is a smart device that attaches to any type of bike handlebar and pairs with your phone via Bluetooth with the SmartHalo app. The device gives you Precise and intuitive navigation designed to take the safest and fastest routes, while allowing you to keep the eyes on the road.

The interface also features a powerful front light that makes night rides and journeys safer and more enjoyable. An alarm designed to trigger a loud sound when the bike is tampered with, to prevent bike theft. A series of enhanced fitness features that automatically track and analyze fitness metrics and a personal assistant notifies you of incoming calls with a simple blue dot at the center of the interface.

SmartHalo took the cycling world by storm with its Kickstarter and pre-sale campaign with 10,000 units sold and delivered. It is now available for $149 in the US and Canada online at smarthalo.bike. If you want more details look for our review in the coming week and happy cycling!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Samsung Invites You to Try to Hack Their Devices

In the world of technology security is king! So much so that most of the major tech giants have already launched security programs aimed at rewarding would be hackers if they share their exploits with the company before they become a major issue. Today Samsung has become the latest player in the game with the launch of their very own rewards program.

In an attempt at making sure sure that its smartphones, such as the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and the Galaxy Note 8, are safe to use by the public, Samsung has officially the Samsung Mobile Security Rewards Program. The program invites members of the security community to assess the integrity of Samsung’s mobile devices and associated software to identify potential vulnerabilities in those products.

“As a leading provider of mobile devices and experiences, Samsung recognizes the importance of protecting users’ data and information, and prioritizes security in the development of each of its products and services,” said Injong Rhee Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Software and Services of the Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics. “As part of our commitment to security, Samsung is proud to work in close partnership with the security research community to ensure that all of our products are monitored closely and continually for any potential vulnerabilities.”

The program will cover all of Samsung’s mobile devices currently receiving monthly and quarterly security updates, currently a total of 38 devices. In addition, the program will reward submissions for potential vulnerabilities in the latest Samsung Mobile Services, including Bixby, Samsung Account, Samsung Pay and Samsung Pass, among others. Dependent upon the severity of a given submission, as well as the researcher’s ability to provide proof of concept, Samsung will issue rewards of up to $200,000.

The Mobile Security Rewards Program is effective immediately. For additional information, including terms and conditions visit the Samsung Mobile Security page.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Victims of Free Cruise Telemarketing Calls Could Get Up To $900 In Settlement

Who hasn't fallen prey to those all too familiar phone calls offering you a "free cruise"? You know the ones I mean. The persistent auto-dials that tell you that you have won, or are entitled to a free trip to the Bahamas or some other tropical destination.

Well thanks to a class action lawsuit and recent settlement, you may be entitled to some cold hard cash! Anywhere from $300-900 in fact!

The lawsuit claims that the recorded calls made between 2009 and 2014 violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. A marketing company titles RMG made pre-recorded telemarketing calls to landlines and cell phones offering free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian as promotions and that these calls are said to have violated the TCPA.

A settlement was reached last month to payout up to $12.5 million to people who received the calls.

You are included in the Settlement as a Settlement Class Member if you were the owner, subscriber, or user of a residential or cellular telephone line that received pre-recorded telemarketing calls between July of 2009 and March of 2014 that were initiated by RMG during which you were offered a free cruise with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines and your phone number is contained in the call records produced by RMG in this case. The Call Records contain all phone numbers that RMG used to initiate pre-recorded telemarketing calls to promote its business. Any person submitting a claim with a telephone number not found in the records of RMG is ineligible for distribution from the settlement fund.

Finding out if you are part of the claim is really, really easy! Just click here and follow the prompt to enter your phone number and submit a claim. The site will automatically scan the logs for whatever number you have entered and will let you know if you are part of the claim. Every phone number you have could be eligible, so try them all and submit claims for any you find!

Each RMG telemarketing call you received will have a maximum value of $300. You may file a claim for up to three calls per telephone number included in the Call Records. This means that your maximum payment amount could be $900 per telephone number. Although payment amounts could be $300-$900, actual payment amounts will be based on the total number of calls and valid Claim Forms received. For example:
  • If, after deducting attorneys’ fees and expenses, the incentive award, and settlement administration costs, the amount needed to pay all valid claims is less than the balance of the Settlement Fund, then each Settlement Class Member who submits a valid Claim Form will receive $300 per call for up to three calls, and the remaining funds will be donated cy pres to the National Consumer Law Center (www.nclc.org) or other approved recipient.
  • If, after deducting attorneys’ fees and expenses, the incentive award, and settlement administration costs, the amount needed to pay all valid claims is greater than the Settlement Fund Ceiling, then each Settlement Class Member who submits a valid Claim Form will receive a proportionately reduced payment amount, meaning each Settlement Class Member will receive the same reduced payment amount per call for up to three calls.
To receive a cash payment, you must submit a Claim Form by November 3, 2017. The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing on April 4, 2018 to decide whether to grant final approval to the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, there may be appeals. It is always uncertain whether appeals will be filed and, if so, how long it will take to resolve them. Settlement payments will be provided as soon as possible, if and when the Court grants final approval to the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Internet Connected Toys May Be The Newest Threat to Your Children

According to a public service announcement released by the FBI this week your child's internet connected toys may be a major threat to not only their privacy but their safety!

In the PSA the FBI warns that "toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child's name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment." In addition to personal information that may be obtained the FBI warns that more specific details, such as GPS locations, visual identifiers and information used by other family member when creating user accounts could readily be obtained!

The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. Personal information (e.g., name, date of birth, pictures, address) is typically provided when creating user accounts. In addition, companies collect large amounts of additional data, such as voice messages, conversation recordings, past and real-time physical locations, Internet use history, and Internet addresses/IPs. The exposure of such information could create opportunities for child identity fraud. Additionally, the potential misuse of sensitive data such as GPS location information, visual identifiers from pictures or videos, and known interests to garner trust from a child could present exploitation risks. 

As with all internet connected devices, (including your smart phone, smart TV, home assistant ect) data collected from interactions with your devices is typically collected, sent and stored by the manufacturer or developer via server or cloud service. In some cases, it is also collected by third-party companies who manage the voice recognition software used in the toys or connected devices. Voice recordings, toy Web application (parent app) passwords, home addresses, Wi-Fi information, or sensitive personal data could be exposed if the security of the data is not sufficiently protected with the proper use of digital certificates and encryption when it is being transmitted or stored.

Smart toys generally connect to the Internet either:

  • Directly, through Wi-Fi to an Internet-connected wireless access point; or
  • Indirectly, via Bluetooth to an Android or iOS device that is connected to the Internet.

The FBI warns that cyber security measures used in the toy, the toy’s partner applications, and the Wi-Fi network on which the toy connects directly impacts the overall user security. Communications connections where data is encrypted between the toy, Wi-Fi access points, and Internet servers that store data or interact with the toy are crucial to mitigate the risk of hackers exploiting the toy or possibly eavesdropping on conversations/audio messages. Bluetooth-connected toys that do not have authentication requirements (such as PINs or passwords) when pairing with the mobile devices could pose a risk for unauthorized access to the toy and allow communications with a child user. It could also be possible for unauthorized users to remotely gain access to the toy if the security measures used for these connections are insufficient or the device is compromised.

Parents are being urged to examine user agreements and privacy policies (we know too well that some of us click through blindly and agree to those terms) and investigate whether data is shared with third parties and how it's handled in the cloud. Toys should also only be connected to the internet over secure Wi-Fi networks and not connected blindly to open networks, or in some cases trusted networks with highly clone-able names (ie Xfinitywifi).  Additionally, the FBI suggests that you report cases whereas you migght suspect your child’s toy may have been compromised by filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: Paby Smart Pet Locator and Activity Tracker


Whether it be from the fright of 4th of July fireworks, a door or gate accidentally left open, or just a stubborn pooch that doesn't like to come when called, for animal lovers there is nothing worse than losing your furry little friend! Given today's technology tracking down your pet is easier than ever, and today we have a newly launched option that will do just that and more.

The Paby GPS tacker is a real-time smart tracker that monitors a pet’s location and activity utilizing a combination of advanced 3G GPS (cellular), LBS (Location Based Services) and Wi-Fi technologies. Which unlike many of the trackers we've reviewed before, and many on the market, means you can track your dog or cat (or child) just about anywhere at anytime!

Paby is a small durable and waterproof device that offers not only a smart tracker, but RGB LED flashing light for added pet safety and a high fidelity waterproof speaker that plays a sound to alert the user (via the mobile app) when their pet is nearby.

The GPS tracker incorporates the latest battery technology with a gel state polymer lithium ion battery and is built to last with PC ABS, laser direct structuring, UV coating and in-mold decoration.

Getting started with Paby the things you need to know!

Paby requires a cellular network connection to properly track your pet. It isn't required and you will have some functionality by using Wi-Fi, however I strongly suggest adding on a mobile data plan. Without it, if your pet wanders out of a Wi-Fi area, you'll be out of luck.

For this you have two options - Option 1: Paby comes with a free SIM card and offers network subscription plans starting at $4.99 per month at http://www.paby.com/plan/ (those purchasing an annual network service plan through Paby will receive 30 days of free service). Option 2: customers with AT&T and T-Mobile have the option to use their existing wireless network.

Setting Up Your Paby

All your tracking and features will be controlled through Paby's free App (iOS and Android). The App itself is fairly intuitive and pretty straight forward. Before you get started I'd suggest reviewing the FAQ and doing a quick once over with the App just to familiarize yourself with the features. From my experience the icons aren't very descriptive and the manual is limited on explanations as to what they do.


Once you have the App installed, make sure you charge your device to full capacity. From there pairing is fairly straight fwd. Once the device is paired the App will allow you to view custom reports and alerts, designate virtual fences to sound alerts and set sound or LED alerts. All tracking and locations are shown via Google Maps, with a detailed view of location history charting where your pet has been on a given day.

For those that want to keep their pets healthy and active Paby offers additional features such as a health monitoring system which tracks steps, sleep and intensity of work out/play time and daily exercise recommendations based on your pet’s breed, weight and age.



Testing and Conclusion

We tested out Paby tracker out over the course of a couple weeks and were pleasantly surprised at how well it performed. Tracking was very precise and the activity tracker worked well. During most of our testing battery life was a little on the weak side, but that may be attributed to us putting it through more rigorous testing and using more features than normal. Overall we saw plenty of power for two to three days of variable testing, plenty for most tracking situations.

As mentioned we did have a few issues with working out what each of the icons on the menu screen does, but once we worked that out things went smoothly. I had a few problems with getting alerts to work properly, and would have liked to have seen a dedicated alerts button for one time alerts rather than having to turn them on and leave them on through the tacking function. Ideally, with one time alerts, I could train my dog to check-in with me (hunting dog style).  he LED's function great and offer a nice touch for walking your dog or keeping an eye on them in the yard at night.

At $79.99 the Paby comes in pretty much in range with other options out there, but it is one of the few we saw with magnetic charging, IP67 water-resistant rating, LED lighting and a decent design set. It comes available in a variety of colors and patterns seen above (“Spider Red,” “Future Green,” “Allstar,” “Midnight Black” and “Bubble Pink”)  and is available now at www.paby.com. All in all I can definitely give it a nod as being worth the price when it comes to piece of mind for you pet owners!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Amazon Prime Adds Prime Wardrobe With Free "Try Before You Buy” Option

Amazon is expanding their Prime offerings yet again. This time with a new option dubbed Prime Wardrobe a service that will allow you to checkout fashion choices from Amazon fashion. The finest point, and likely the best selling, is that the service will come with a “try before you buy” option allowing you have items shipped to you to try on before you are billed!


Amazon says the service will offer plenty of choices with over 1 million items on Amazon Fashion including popular brands like Levi’s, Adidas, Hugo Boss, and Calvin Klein. With“try before you buy” the company ships your selected items for you to try on, and then you send whatever you don’t want right back to Amazon, for free. You only pay for the items you keep, and Amazon will sweeten the deal by offering discounts based on the number of pieces you choose to hang on to, with up to 20% off.

Prime Wardrobe is still in a testing phase, so isn't yet available to the public. Customers can get more information on the service and ask to receive an email when it launches here.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Apple's WWDC Scheduled for June 5, 2017


Apple has officially announced that its WWDC 2017 will take place between June 5th and 9th at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. The 2017 Keynote will be taking place on June 5th at 10:00 am Pacific Time with expected announcements related to the new iOS 11 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and macOS 11 for the Mac. Rumors also suggest we may hear about new hardware ranging from the new iPhone 8 to iPad Pros and maybe even a Siri home device.

Don't hold your breathe on getting tickets however, because as usual they are already gone!  Tickets, which were priced at $1,599, were distributed by random selection at the end of March, and free tickets provided to scholarship winners were handed out in April. 

The official WWDC invite to developers said "Technology alone is not enough. Technology must intersect with the liberal arts and the humanities, to create new ideas and experiences that push society forward. This summer we bring together thousands of brilliant minds representing many diverse perspectives, passions, and talents to help us change the world."

Apple typically uses their invites to tease some of the undertones of the event. In this case we could be seeing a major push towards a more interactive technology with more VR or augmented reality. Or we could see something completely out of the norm. It really is hard to say!

Apple expects to host about 5,000 developers, with hundreds of Apple engineers available to answer questions and host app development sessions. Developers who cannot attend will be able to watch the sessions through the WWDC 2017 website, and the WWDC app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. 
 

Amazon Free Shipping Threshold Lowered Back to $25

If like me, you hate to pay for shipping on anything you buy, then Amazon has just made your day. The company has, very quietly, dropped their threshold for "Free Super Saver Shipping" back to the original $25 it was back in the good old days. Prime One-Day Delivery will still be eligible on orders over $35.

Even though Amazon has reached record profits over the years, competition for your buying dollar has reached new heights. Numerous other online retailers offering $35 free shipping thresholds, including Target, Jet.com and Walmart, which recently introduced free two-day shipping on orders over $35.

The new minimum shows Amazon competing for shoppers who don’t pay $99-a-year for Amazon Prime, which includes free two-day shipping on millions of items as well as access to music and video. These customers are the Seattle-based company’s most loyal shoppers. Amazon will make non-Prime shoppers wait 5 to 8 business days for free shipping on more than 50 million items.

All this geek can say is kudos to those companies out there that keep the competition going! Lower prices are almost always a plus for us consumers.