Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Google Search Feature May End Waiting In Line

Be it standing in line to buy the hottest new games on the market or waiting for that trendy restaurant, waiting in long lines is the scourge of all things brick and mortar related. Fortunately Google has a mew tool that may easy that burden!

The new feature, announced via a Google+ post, utilizes some sort of Google magic to analyze the busy times and trends of individual businesses in order to show you when your gym, coffee shop, or favorite lunch spot is at its busiest.
"Do you ever find yourself trying to avoid long lines or wondering when is the best time to go grocery shopping, pick up coffee, or hit the gym (hint: avoid Monday after work)? You're in luck!"
For an example, Google offered the search results for "Blue Bottle Williamsburg" with the accompanying image below. Following a quick Google search simply tap on the title for the business you searched and you'll find details like its address, phone number and open hours. Google will also now show you “popular times” for the business in question accompanied by a bar chart that you can scroll through day by day that highlights the busiest portion of the day for each business.


Google states that feature is currently enabled for “millions” of places and businesses around the world, unfortunately though they have also stated the feature is generally only going to be accessible for those more popular places where users are more “commonly curious about how busy it typically gets”. From our own testing however, we were pleasantly surprised at how many local locations are actually listed and how accurate, from our own perception, the data seemed to be.

This new 'busy times tool' should be easily accessible from within your Google Search results on all mobile phones with an internet connection and from any modern mobile web browsers or Android’s Google Search App. Sadly there is no mention of availability for desktop browsers nor does it currently work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 Is Here You Can Upgrade Today

The wait is finally over and Microsoft has made good on their promise and released the much anticipated upgrade to Windows, Windows 10. As many know the new upgrade is free for all current Windows users, however it will be rolling out in several phases, meaning upgrades will roll out across the country to users in waves and you may not your update right away. For you geeks that aren't willing to wait you can download the upgrade free now via the links below.

For starts let me give kuddos to Microsoft for what I'd say has been a great job on a major new roll-out. We went the tradition route, upgrading via Microsoft annoying notification bar and 'reserving' our free copy. The upgrade was fairly easy and almost completely painless. An even bigger plus was that it took very little time, less than 30mins to be exact, to download and install all of the upgrade.

So now back to the main purpose of today's post, which is to explain how you can upgrade to Windows 10 immediately!

First, you’ll need to download the Windows 10 installation file as an ISO image. To do this you'll need a few things handy. You'll need to make sure you have a blank DVD and a DVD burner, or a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of free space on hand. Now, simply visit Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page and select the Windows 10 edition you’d like to download. Note that each installation file includes everything you need to install either the Home or Pro version of Windows 10.

Just note that if you are 'upgrading' from a previous version of Windows you'll need to install the version that corresponds to your upgrade path. To find out which version you need checkout the Windows 10 specifications page. Here you can also see the full system requirements and additional Windows 10 details.

Once your download is complete, Windows will walk you through the painless process of burning a Windows 10 installation DVD or adding the installer to a USB flash drive, whichever method you decided on using. After that, you install the Windows 10 upgrade from the new media you created just like you'd install any other OS. Just make sure you backup all of your data first, things have been pretty painless so far but that doesn't mean anything and while you shouldn’t lose anything during the upgrade process you can never be too safe.

Note: that you can also use the tool to perform a clean install rather than an upgrade for those that would prefer that method — but you may need to enter a valid Windows license key under some circumstances if you do that. You can find more details in the FAQ.

Once you are done sit back and enjoy. We've been testing Windows 10 throughout the beta process and so far have loved the new moves that Microsoft has made. Especially the return of the 'start button' and removal of the tiled theme that Windows 8 had. Even though we didn't have any issues with Windows 8, we just find Windows 10 much more familiar.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Apple Offers Teachers and Students Free Beats Solo2 Headphones With Mac Purchase


For their 2015 Back to School promotion Apple is offering "qualified educational buyers" a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones with the purchase of an eligible Mac. These qualified customers must either purchase an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro with education pricing to qualify, including build-to-order configurations.

What constitutes a qualified educational buyer you might ask? According to the details on the promotion page this means teachers or administrators and other employees at a public or private K-12 school, or employees, students or parents of a student at a higher-education institution.

For those that do qualify for the offer and are looking for a bit more 'Beats' in their life you can also opt for an upgrade for an additional $100 to a pair of wireless Beats Solo2 headphones, rather than the usual $299 price. As of right now the announcement is not yet being advertised on Apple.com apart from a small mention on its rebates page.

So far this appears to be the only Back to School promotion which is a bit surprising since Apple generally runs promotions for all of its devices. Even more surprising is there doesn't seem to be a promo for the iPads this year, despite Apple pushing the tablet into education markets and the slowing sales numbers we've seen recently.

In past back-to-school promotions, Apple has given away gift cards of up to $100 and done several promotions for other devices including $50 gift cards for iPhone and iPad purchases. This move may be a clear attempt at Apple trying to not-so-subtly draw attention to its recently launched Apple Music streaming service, which largely leverages the previously launched Beat Music subscription service. It also gives a lift to the Beats by Dr. Dre brand among younger fans of music who otherwise have chosen from many rival headphone brands.

The offer runs from today through September 18th at Apple retail sales locations. Online sales are eligible for the promotion from August 6th until September 18th.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why Windows 10 Mandatory Updates Shouldn't Be A Major Concern



It has been widely reported, and seemingly acknowledge by Microsoft, that Windows 10 will feature a new mandatory update process that has sparked some concern by many in the tech world. For many the news that Windows 10 updates cannot be stopped comes across as a bit intrusive and shows a lack of end user control, while others are voicing concerns more deeply rooted in Windows history pointing to the fact that in the past updates have been the culprit of many computer crashes and other issues.

The updated Windows EULA reads:

"The software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you. You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorized sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates. By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.”

In short: Windows 10 will automatically download and install updates and you have no option to switch them off. It is clear Microsoft's intention is that users will be always up-to-date, not only with security patches, but also with feature updates.

While some of this news may be a major concern to most of us geeks, in the long term it will actually end up being great news for the average user and even for businesses. Why you may ask? Because one of the single biggest problems affecting Windows PCs is the risks associated with those PCs not being up-to-date. The holds true mainly in regards to security patches, but the problems also impact incompatibilities that stem from out of date software and drivers, something many day to day users don't thoroughly understand. Now that Windows 10 has complete control over their systems this is far less likely to happen.

The downside to this is clear, the total loss of control over what is and isn't updated on your system and what may or may not be added at a future date. With current versions of Windows, if there is an update a user finds breaks something that they need, they can generally refuse that update for an extended period. We've seen this time and time again with past Service Packs; these are both the most likely updates to break things and the easiest to reject.

There is also the concern that Microsoft may use the new update system to roll out a steady stream of feature updates and other software as they add new capabilities and features to the new operating system. The concern is that users might just find their PCs loaded with new Microsoft related software that they really have no need for.

While both of these may be concerns at the end of the day for the average user the rewards should far out weight any risks! The typical home or business user installing updates likely wouldn't research their updates enough to know which to avoid when installing and which are safe. Even then their is little guarantee that they will or won't work on a given system. Add to that the fact that Microsoft has been much better at releasing stable updates and/or getting fixes out for any that are causing issues and you are less likely to see problems by having automatic updates than you would if you were unpatched.

For us geeks the story is a bit different. We prefer that level of control that allows us to know exactly what is going on with out machines. For those of us that aren't happy with the new changes there will be a couple options. We can either sit and wait for a hack that allows for more control over updates or we can avoid Windows 10 Home and opt for Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, either of which allow a bit more control.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Get More Bang For Your Back to School Buck With Gazelle's Certified Pre-owned Devices

It might feel as though it is a bit early to start thinking about your back to school technology needs. However, more and more companies are kicking off sales early vying for those hard earned summer dollars and back to school sales are already gearing up.

For most students technology is going to be one of the major costs associated with heading back into the classroom. But when it comes to best-in-class technology, it doesn't have to be. As most geeks know it doesn't always take the latest tech to get by when in class and most students can get by with devices that aren't the latest-greatest.

Instead of spending all that money on the latest devices on the market or focusing instead on buying one of this year's budget friendly offerings, students can save a few bucks by looking towards used devices.

Gazelle Certified has the perfect selection of devices that will make the grade, including the latest Android smartphones, iPhones, and iPads. Plus, all Gazelle Certified devices go through an extensive 30+-point quality inspection, have no contracts or strings attached, and include a 30-day time-frame for returns.

Even if you do feel that need to buy the latest greatest devices doesn't mean you have to sacrifice that hard earned cash. Gazelle offers great savings on some of the hottest devices on the market today. Like a certified pre-owned iPhone 6.

If however cash is short on hand Gazelle can help you out there as well. You can sell your old devices and earn cash with Gazelle Trade-in. It only takes a few minutes and you can clean out your closet, or lighten those moving boxes all while adding some extra beer or book money to your pocket!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Demos For HTC's Vive VR Headset May Be Coming to A City Near You



VR Headsets are all the rage the days and one of the newest entries into the market, HTC's Vive which was developed together with popular gaming developer Valve, is quickly making waves. The Vive headset has been on demo this week at San Diego Comic-Con and so far those lucky enough to test it out have had nothing but good things to say.

Luckily for us geeks that haven't had the chance to do any hands on testing we may soon get one. HTC just announced a world tour for the Vive that of course started this week and will be stretching all the way into the Paris Games Week in November. Currently, the tour is making stops in 11 cities. Nine of those locations will be in the U.S., and the other two will be in Germany and France. Here's the current list of tour locations and dates.

  • July 9-12, Island St & 6th Ave, San Diego, CA, USA
  • July 17-19, Forecastle Festival [Invite Only], Louisville, KY, USA
  • July 21-23, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, USA
  • July 25-28, specific location TBD, Kansas City, KS, USA
  • August 2-8, The International Seattle, WA, USA
  • August 5-9, Gamescom, Cologne, Germany
  • August 13-16, specific location TBD, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • August 20-23, specific location TBD, Portland, OR, USA
  • August 28-31, PAX Prime, Seattle, WA, USA
  • September 4-9, IFA, Berlin, Germany
  • October 28-November 1, Paris Games Week, Paris, France
HTC has noted that tour dates and locations are subject to change, so if your city isn't on the list now, maybe it will be there later. HTC will also be sharing photos, video, and stories from the road on the official HTC blog, as well as on theirsocial media channels (which now include @HTCVive) using the hashtag #HTCViveLive.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Security Alert: Leaked Hacking Team Flash Exploit Already In Use Patch Flash Now

The recent hacking and subsequent leak of more than 400GBs of data from the 'Hacking Team', which is known for working with governments worldwide, has turned up several major pieces of information both on the good and bad side. One little piece that the team was sitting on was a previously unknown, un-patched Flash zero day exploit which could allow attackers to remotely execute code on a targeted computer.

According to security researchers it has taken less than a day for the new exploit to spread throughout the hacking community and be put in to use. By Tuesday afternoon, the critical flaw was added to several major commercially available exploit kits and was being targeted in the wild by an array of malware titles.

Adobe Systems has already confirmed the vulnerability, which received the identifier CVE-2015-5119 and is active in Flash versions 18.0.0.194 and earlier. Fortunately Adobe has worked quickly to get an update together that should mitigate any threat.

Adobe came out today with the APSB15-16 security bulletin and update providing patches for 36 security vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player, including this latest threat. The update should be currently available for all users of Flash on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems. Adobe has credited Google's Project Zero and Morgan Marquis-Boire, director of security, First Look Media, for reporting the critical bug and working to protect Flash users.

If for some reason the Adobe update is not available for you, or you can install it users are advised to enable the click-to-play feature in browsers that support it, like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, or to disable the Flash Player plug-in in their browser.