Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beware Japan Earthquake Scams And Phishing Emails

The sad reality of life is that scammers will use any chance they can to bilk unsuspecting people from their money. With all the attention the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are receiving its likely that we'll see an influx of scams and phishing emails related to the incident. Meaning people truly wanting to help the victims of this sad incident need to take caution and be on the look-out for suspicious emails and websites. Below is some very useful information that should help keep you safe and keep your money out of the hands of scammers.

The Internet Storm Center (ISC) issued a warning on its Web page Friday morning warning readers to expect "emails (sp) scams and malware circulating regarding the recent Japanese earthquake."Examples of Tsunami-related spam have already shown up in spam filters, according to the Web site spamwarnings.com.The ISC warns users should avoid opening questionable attachments or clicking suspicious links within any unsolicited emails. Users looking to make donations via website should also been warned that scammers have become adept at using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to place scam Web pages high in the search results of major search engines like Google.

You should always verify your links and double check the websites and web address before you donate. For instance users wanting to donate to the Red Cross should go directly to RedCross.Org. When you decide to donate make sure you are on a secure page. Look in the address bar for the HTTPS:// security protocol.

Here's a good list of reputable organizations accepting donations (via MSNBC):
  • Using your cell phone, you can text-message donations of $10 to the Red Cross. Text the letters REDCROSS to 90999 to make the $10 donation, or visit the organization's website.
  • The International Medical Corps is putting together relief teams, as well as supplies. The organization is in "contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities,” said Nancy Aossey, IMC president, on its website. You can donate here. Or, you can text MED to 80888 to donate $10 to emergency relief efforts.
  • Save the Children is accepting donations for its Children's Emergency Fund. "We are extremely concerned for the welfare of children and their families who have been affected by the disaster. We stand ready to meet the needs of children who are always the most vulnerable in a disaster,' said Eiichi Sadamatsu of the organization in a statement. You can also text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • GlobalGiving, based in Washington, D.C., is providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10.
  • The Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is sending an assessment team from Tokyo to the city of Sendai "to assess damage and will begin providing basic necessities (food, water, etc.) beginning as soon as possible tonight or tomorrow," a spokesperson said. In Tokyo, the Salvation Army "opened its main building to help shelter commuters who were unable to reach home. They served hot drinks and packed meals." You can text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
  • World Vision, with a staff of 75 in Japan, focuses its relief efforts on children. Visit the website to donate, or call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453). You can text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • The mGive Foundation, which helps with mobile donations, said these groups are also accepting text-based donations: Convoy of Hope, text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10; World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals, text WAVE to 50555 to donate $10. "When prompted, mobile donors should reply with YES to confirm a one-time gift," the foundation says. "The $10 one-time donation will appear on the donor’s next mobile bill. All donations are tax deductible and receipts may be printed" from the mGive site. "Message and data rates may apply."
  • Facebook has a Disaster Relief page with lots of good information about organizations that are offering aid, and that you can help, in turn.
  • Portland, Ore.-based Mercy Corps  is "accepting donations to help survivors of Japan's earthquake and tsunami through our longstanding partner, Peace Winds Japan." Donations will go to meeting the "immediate and longer-term needs of the survivors," a spokesperson said. You can text “MERCY” to 25283 to donate $10.
  • Microsoft has a Disaster Response Effort underway. "We are taking a number of steps, including ensuring the safety of our employees and their families and proactively offering customers, partners and local response agencies technical support to help ensure business continuity," the company said. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

iFixit iPad 2 Wi-Fi Teardown

As always when a new geeky gadget hits the streets the folks over at iFixit have rushed out to get their geeky hands on one and immediately began tearing it apart. The couldn't wait to get their hands on the new iPad 2 and as such they couldn't wait to pull it apart and checkout all the goodness the new aluminum shell hides.

Currently they are still working on the iPad 2 Wi-Fi Teardown but they do have some preliminary photos and specifications for everyone to checkout. They are living updating the post so you can refresh the page every few mins and there will be more details

Confirmed specs:
  • 1 GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 16/32/64 GB internal storage capacity
  • 9.7" LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology(1024 x 768)
  • HD (720p) Rear-facing camera + VGA Front-facing camera
More details will be posted as soon as they become available so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pwn2Own Day Two: iPhone 4, BlackBerry Both Go Down

On day two of the Pwn2Own security researchers had their chance to take on several of the markets latest smartphones. Included where an Apple iPhone 4, RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800, Nexus S running Google's Android and Dell Venue Pro running Windows. At the end of the day only two challengers reamined unbroken the Dell and the Nexus S both of which went unchallenged.

Long time Pwn2Own contestant Charlie Miller became the first four time winner teaming with Dion Blazakis to take down the iPhone 4. The hack utilized a drive-by exploit on a rigged web-page. Once the phone visited the page a lfaw in MobileSafari was exploited to swipe the phone’s address book

In an interview with ZDNet, Miller said the attack works perfectly against an iPhone running iOS 4.2.1 but will fail against the newest iOS 4.3 update.

“If you update your iPhone today, the [MobileSafari] vulnerability is still there, but the exploit won’t work. I’d have to bypass DEP and ASLR for this exploit to work,” Miller said.

On the BlackBerry, a multi-national team composed of Vincenzo Iozzo, Ralf-Philipp Weinmann and a third researcher from the Netherlands were able to successfully hack their BlackBerry Torch combining two information leak bugs and an integer overflow bug to exploit. The WebKit based BlackBerry browser was exploited to run their code on the phone.

The teams each will receive a check for $15,000 from TippingPoint, as well as the smartphones they exploited, in a ceremony Friday at CanSecWest.

There is still one more day of the contest however it is unlikely that anyone would step forward to attempt exploits of the still-standing browsers and smartphones. No one, for instance, has attempted Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome or the other two smartphones.


Day one results: Pwn2Own Day One: No Surprises Here Safari, IE Both Hacked

YouTube Now Hiring What You Need To Know

Google today announced that the company will be increasing the number of people working at YouTube by more than 30% at various positions and locations around the world. The company currently has about 650 employees meaning a 30% increase would mean YouTube could hire close to 200 more staffers this year.

Want to work for Google? Well here is a list of the positions they are looking to fill:

Current openings

What’s it like to work at YouTube?

YouTube is an extremely team-oriented, creative workplace where every single employee has a voice in the choices we make and the features we implement. We work together in small teams to design, develop, and roll out key features and products in very short time frames. Which means something you write today could be seen by millions of viewers tomorrow. And even though we’re a part of Google and enjoy all of the corporate perks, it still feels like you’re working at a startup.

Good luck to all those that apply, I've heard nothing but great things about working for the company and would love to learn some of our readers were the next Googlers to make the team. You may want to watch some of these video to learn more about working at YouTube.

iPad 2 Officially On-Sale Tomorrow Why You Shouldn't Buy It

The iPad is undoubtedly a huge success for Apple and in many opinions the best tablet on the market today. Trying to follow on that success tomorrow Apple is releasing it's traditional yearly product line update, one which most consumers will likely flock to. But should they?

For any of the Apple fans out there that currently own the iPad my answer is a resounding no and here's why!

We've heard the details, the iPad 2 is marginally thinner, lighter and slightly faster than its predecessor. In terms of actual upgrades it features a new cpu, more memory, a new case, dual cameras and of course the newest release of Apple's mobile operating system  iOS 4.3. This is all great and all but the details you need to focus on are the actual hardware updates which are the new Apple dual-core A5 processor the additional memory (reportedly double that of the old iPad) and the cameras. After-all these items are the only real reason you'd want to upgrade the weight and thickness are so marginal they would hardly be noticed.

For those that have an iPad even if you sale your current model you are going to have to add roughly $200-250 to purchase your iPad 2. Now stay with here. The total reported cost of the new parts you get are roughly in the neighborhood of $75-100. The cpu is somewhere around $20, the added memory tops out at $60 and the new front facing VGA camera, we'll say another $10-15. So you are spending roughly 2-3 times the actual cost to get only a slight increase in performance.

From the early reviews the camera, while a nice feature, is anemic to say the least. Why Apple decided not to upgrade either of the cameras is beyond reason but the new front facing camera is a VGA camera. The sensor is decent but nothing better than the iPod and a fair piece worse than the rear camera. Something most reviews scathed about.

The additional memory is a great add-on but hardly going to be noticeable for most tasks. iOS and most of its apps just don't use that much memory. The dual core cpu is probably the best overall addition and will give users an increase in performance. How much and how noticeable it will be will really depend on the users and the applications they use.

Personally I don't see a justification in terms of the price to performance. To me the gains just aren't there. If it were me I'd hold on to my iPad and wait for the next, hopefully bigger/better, release that should provide more features and overall more functionality. Make Apple release a meaningful upgrade not just another costly minor update!

Now that said, for those of you that don't own an iPad and are on the fence about buying a new one I'm not going to say don't. Any geek out there will agree the iPad is a great device and the entry level price point is hard to beat. The iPad also offers a ton of extras via the Apple App Store that have yet to be matched. The draw back is that there are a ton of competitors out there that offer as much if not more as the iPad. The Xoom is making major waves, the Samsung Galaxy Tabs are making a few ripples and there are a few alternatives coming down the pipes that could make a big splash.

So I guess what I'm saying is you should seriously evaluate your decision before you leap.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pwn2Own Day One: No Surprises Here Safari, IE Both Hacked

For followers of the now highly publicized Pwn2Own hacking contest it should come as little surprise that both Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer have fallen of the first day.

Taking just short of 5 seconds and despite a last-minute update from Apple, Safari was the first to be cracked by security researchers from the French penetration test company VUPEN. Reportedly the team used a known flaw in Apple's Calculator program to execute a bypass of ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention), two key anti-exploit mitigations built into Mac OS X.

Apple had released a last minute update that patched 62 vulnerabilities in various aspects of Safari 5.0.3. This however was of little consequence to the contest at the MacBook Air used in the contest was still running the older un-patched version. TippingPoint can not disclose the nature of the vulnerability but has said the vulnerability used by Vupen to hack Safari has not been fixed in 5.0.4, otherwise they would not have awarded the $15,000 prize.

VUPEN won a $15,000 cash prize and an Apple MacBook Air 13″ running Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

A second researcher, Stephen Fewer, successfully hacked into a 64-bit Windows 7 machine running Internet Explorer 8 using three different vulnerabilities and custom exploits. Fewer used two different zero-day bugs in IE that he’d found previously to get reliable code execution, and then exploited a third vulnerability that allowed him to jump out of the IE Protected Mode sandbox to get to the operating system.

Like VUPEN, Fewer’s attack also successfully bypassed DEP and ASLR in Windows 7. Fewer won a $15,000 cash prize and a new Sony Vaio laptop running Windows 7 for being the first contestant to hack the Windows browser.

Firefox and Google Chrome stood untested, with the attempts at hacking Firefox being rescheduled to Thursday and the contestants scheduled to test Google Chrome being no shows. Thursday will also feature attempts at hacking the four smartphones slated for this year including and iPhone 4 running Apple's iOS 4.2, a Nexus S running Google's Android (version unknown), a Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7 and a Blackberry Torch 9800 running the Blackberry 6 OS. TippingPoint will award $15,000 for the first hack of each of the smartphones.

The contest will continue through the CanSecWest conference ending March 11th.

Review: HTC Freestyle

I recently decided to upgrade my old Motorola Tundra from AT&T to something a bit more functional that offered more online features. Not wanting to add to much more to my monthly bill I decided to forgo the leap to a true smartphone and instead opted for one of AT&T mid-class (semi-smart) phones. After reading several reviews of my options I decided on the brand new HTC Freestyle.



The HTC Freestyle seemed to incorporate everything I wanted from a new phone. Touchscreen, fully functional browser, decent camera, a few apps (especially Facebook and Twitter streams) and an overall reasonable size. I found a good deal on the phone through Amazon Wireless so I went ahead and ordered it.

HTC Freestyle Tech Specs:
  • 3.2-inch 320x480 HVGA resolution with capacitive touch screen
  • 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus camera
  • Onboard GPS w/optional AT&T Navigator service
  • Memory expansion via microSD card - up to 32 GB
  • Onscreen QWERTY keyboard
  • Full email and messaging capabilities
  • Friend Stream for updates from Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr
  • Full PC-like HTML Web browser

The HTC Freestyle is a nice compact phone it only weighs 3.35 ounces and measures 4.29 x 2.13 x 0.47 inches. The battery is a 1300 mAh lithium-ion battery rated at up to 7 hours of talk time, and up to 384 hours (16 days) of standby time.

Pros - the things I like:
  • Optional Data plan so it won't cost you an arm and leg
  • Best none smartphone I've seen with lots of features
  • Very nice user interface, almost Android like with easy to use menus
  • Good customization with several customizable home screens
  • Light weight and nice design

Cons - what I hated about the phone:
  • Sim card and MicroSD card are located under the battery which makes them hard to remove
  • Screen size is fairly small for the touch keyboard making it hard to use
  • Wireless Data is on by default I'd prefer it to be off
  • Can't customize Friend Stream at all
  • Data connection seems slow and usage seems remarkably high
  • No Wi-Fi!

The HTC Freestyle has to be one of the most feature packed phones I've used in awhile. To me its more smartphone than not with several apps and the full connectivity features. Setup and customization are really easy as is navigating the various menus. You can add up to 6 additional "home" screens with options for people or frequently used numbers, shortcuts for your favorite apps, a Friend Stream screen, calendar, weather and a few more. The phone features something called Leap view. By pinching the screen it will reveal all seven home screens as thumbnails allowing you to 'leap' to whichever you one with just a tap.

The phone does have several buttons so its not all touchscreen, which is nice. You get send/end and back buttons on the front, a volume up/down rocker on one side a camera button on the other with a sleep/power button on the top. They are all nicely placed making the easy to use and not obtrusive so you don't accidentally hit them.

As features and design go the phone is great, however this is where we come to the bad part the functionality.

The reception seem to be very spotty. I've never had connection issues with any of my other AT&T phones in or around my house but with the Freestyle I seem to. While I didn't notice any dropped calls the number of bars stays fairly low and the data connection seems weak. I often found myself having to make several attempt to connect to  pages and could never get the Facebook linking for friends to connect or update.

Friend Stream is nice to have as I need to stay in contact with not just my own Facebook and Twitter friends but my business accounts as well. The downside is there is no way to limit the updates it shows or who from. This means I ended up wading through updates to pages I don't even have listed on my regular Facebook wall. I'd also like to have seen the option for more than one account.

Communication was good, the sound quality and speaker volume was nice and the speakerphone worked ok. The full html browser is very nice and navigation was great. The on-screen qwerty keyboard was bothersome even for my nimble fingers. So I can say without hesitation that anyone with larger fingers will want to stay away!

Since this isn't a true smartphone like an Android or iOS based phone you are limited to the applications installed or those found in the AT&T AppCenter. You don't have the option of piking up some of the free apps from Google or the Apple App store. Most of the apps included on the phone, especially the maps and GPS, are subscription based which prevented me from testing them. Monthly charges ranged from $5-9 which I think was overdoing it considering the fact I already had unlimited data from AT&T. Not having a free GPS or map tool is a big drawback and pretty much eliminates one of the better features of the phone.

Conclusion - what I really think

When its all said and done I think going to a full blown smartphone would be the better option. I found myself using more data than I thought so immediately need to upgrade to the 'none smartphone unlimted' plan. In the end it cost me an extra $10/mo which might still be under the cost of the smartphone plans, I'm not sure. Before buying the Freestyle I'd  suggest that you weight your monthly costs and actual data usage against actual features.

In just a couple of days of testing I found myself using Facebook and the web a ton more than I original thought I would. I thought I would be able to get by with using the pay-as-you go data features but clearly that was not going to work. So the trade off in actual features, Wi-Fi an App store, more apps ect may well have been worth the upgrade to a better phone.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Viewsonic's $600 Dual-Boot ViewPad 10 Now Available

Viewsonic has announced the immediate North American availability of the new 10.1" dual-boot ViewPad 10. Giving users a choice between Windows 7 and Google Android within the same device.

The ViewPad 10 features an Intel Atom Pine Trail N455 1.66GHz processor, 1GB of DDR3 memory and either Windows 7 Home Premium with a 16GB SSD hard drive or Windows 7 Professional with a 32GB SSD hard drive. The device offers expandable memory options via a micro SD card slot for up to 32GB of additional space. Sadly the only option for Google Android is version 1.6, its not clear if an update is available or not.

The 10.1" screen features a resolution of 1024x600 with LED backlight technology partnered with capacitive multi-touch functionality. Additional features include built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 1.3 megapixel built-in front camera. The two models are listed at $599 and $679 respectively.



Unfortunately the specifications of the ViewPad are fairly weak when compared to the new Motorola Xoom, iPad 2 and even the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The lack of an updated version of Google Android is also a marked setback for the device however the inclusion of Windows 7 is nice.

At the $600-700 price point I don't see this being a big winner for Viewsonic and would hardly call it a major competitor in the market. But for some users that are wanting a full featured OS like Windows 7 its a nice option at a reasonable price.

Get A Free Expo Pass For Interop 2011

Register by 4/8 with Priority Code CPDKLV05 and Save up to $400 on Conference Passes or receive a Free Expo Pass to the Interop Business Technology Conference in Las Vegas May 10-12, 2011.

Interop is the leading business technology event with the most comprehensive IT conference and expo available. Attendees can learn about the latest innovations at the Interop Conference—including virtualization, mobility, cloud computing and data center advances—and get up to speed on how to leverage new technologies to increase productivity and improve collaboration in your enterprise.

This year's even will feature 350+ exhibitors including APC, Avaya, Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and VMware. For more details download an event brochure
or visit Interop Las Vegas

AMD Releases The New $699 Radeon HD 6990

AMD has launched their new 'king of the hill' powerhouse gaming gpu the Radeon HD 6990, price tag $699. With the new HD 6990 AMD claims the title of 'world's fastest' graphics card!

Featuring a massive 4GB of GDDR5, 3,072 Stream Processors, 64 ROPs, and an 830MHz core clock speed. Add in a dual-BIOS switch setup to allow overclockers to tweak the card with automatic settings that allow you to crank that clock up to 880MHz with a corresponding increase in voltage. To push all that power the HD 6990 requires more power as the power-hungry card has a 375W TDP. In preliminary testing Anandtech reported the card sucked down over 490 watts of power during intense gaming benchmarks and as much as 550 watts when overclocked.

This thing is definitely a monster of a card!


Radeon HD 6990 Specifications

Full specs via AMD
  • Default (BIOS1)
    • Up to 830MHz Engine Clock
    • 5.10 TFLOPs Single Precision compute power
    • 1.27 TFLOPs Double Precision Compute Power
  • Overclocked (BIOS2)
    • Up to 880MHz Engine Clock
    • 5.40 TFLOPs Single Precision compute power o 1.37 TFLOPs Double Precision Compute Power
  • 4GB 2x2 GDDR5 Memory
  • 1250MHz Memory Clock (5.0 Gbps GDDR5)
  • 320 GB/s memory bandwidth (maximum) 
  • TeraScale 3 Unified Processing Architecture
    • 3072 Stream Processors
    • 192 Texture Units
    • 128 Z/Stencil ROP Units
    • 64 Color ROP Units
    • Dual geometry and dual rendering engines
  • High Speed 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface
  •  Second generation DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, Shader Model 5, DirectCompute 11 support

 

Radeon HD 6990 Benchmarks and Reviews


Related Articles

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Fix Ink Issues On Your Brother MFC All-In-One Printer

Using ink refills or generic ink is a great way to save money. But what do you do when your printer doesn't accept the new ink? Sometimes you can find reset codes, some times you can use the old tape trick and tape the ink cartridges fooling the ink sensors into accepting the new ink however sometimes you are just stuck with new ink and a printer that won't work.

Recently my Brother MFC-230C ran out of ink so I decided to buy some cheap replacements on eBay that were "guaranteed" to work. The first set worked fine for a month or two even though it appeared as though they ran out a little quicker than usual. When it came time to replace those I ran into nothing but issues. At first the black ink would show "no ink cartridge" and the colored inks would still show low or nearly empty. I managed to do a hard rest and get the black ink to show however this only worked for a short time.

Being fed up with these hassles I almost when out and paid for the original Brother ink cartridges to see if this would alleviate my issues. Then I came across a great tutorial on how to fool your ink sensors into thinking they are always full. Not only did this solve my issues with incompatible cartridges it also allowed me to use nearly all the ink in my carts before replacing them.

This worked on my Brother MFC-230C, and is verified to work on the Brother MFC-240C and Brother MFC-440CN and rother MFC-665CN, others might be similar if not the same.

See images below
  1. Pull the top up and remove the control panel, you'll see 3 screws under the top lid. You'll need to pry the panel out pulling towards you and up.
  2. Locate and unplug the connector with 9 wires (it should be labeled "cartridges" on the circuit card)
  3. Disconnect only the center wire (5th cable from either end). Its a bit of a pain to get out but I didn't want to cut mine right off until I knew for sure it would work.
  4. Reconnect the the 9 wire connector
  5. Close the lids and restart the printer
All ink levels should now show full...




Although I've tested it on my own printer and it works fine for me there is still some risk involved and results can not be guranteed. Try this at your own risk!

Credit goes to cano14 over at Tech Support Forum for the information and the images.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How To Get Top Dollar For Your Used iPad

So the iPad 2 is out and you can't wait to get your hands on it but you don't know what to do with that old iPad you have sitting there on your desk. You have a couple options: you can sale it yourself via Craigslist or eBay or you could try one of the many trade-in programs out there. The choice is going to be a tough one and one will net you more cash than the other. So weight your options before making your decision.

You want top dollar you say

Selling your used iPad yourself is really the best way to get the most money. This however comes with a few drawbacks. First off you have to make sure you wipe away any personal data. You don't want the next owner getting copies of those private emails or potentially having access to stored passwords or anything else that might be used to access your personal information. Second you have to take the time to list it and possibly answer a magnitude of questions. If you list it on Craigslist you have to deal with potential of meeting buyers and perhaps dealing with them for the exchange. Third you have those pesky eBay and PayPal fees and maybe even unscrupulous buyers that try to scam you.

All these can be rather time consuming, annoying and potentially risky so you might want to look into a trade-in program. These are generally quicker, easier and more reliable but will cost you in the long run.

Trade-in Programs and how they work

There are several options when it comes to trade-in programs and some are better than others. Some give you cold hard cash via a visa gift card or PayPal while others force store gift cards on you. I'd recommend skipping the later unless of course you get a really really good deal or plan to shop at that particular store anyways.

Most all trade-in programs work the same way. You visit the site of the program you like, enter the information on the device (say iPad 16GB WiFi model), describe the condition (working great, none working, ect) and any accessories you have (power cords, cases ect)  and then they give you a value. If you like the price they give you you then confirm your deal. In most cases they will send you all the packing materials and pay for the shipping cost. All you need to do is box it up securely and send it off.

Yes you'll have to ship them your iPad and yes this can be risky so do your homework and make sure you can trust the site you choose. Go with a well know site, do just pick something at random and remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

Once you have shipped them your iPad they will evaluate it to make sure that it is in working order or at least in the condition you described to them. If anything is not up to snuff they will let you know and might rescind their original offer. You WILL have the chance of accepting or declining this new offer if one is made. If you don't like the new offer they will ship your iPad back to you. For the vast majority of items, payment is issued within a week once your items arrive and has been evaluated.

Which site is best?

The site you choose is entirely up to you but I suggest checking with a few different ones to see what they are offering. You might get a few dollars more at most but you never know. Best BuyBuyMyTronics.com, Gazelle.com, NextWorth.com, EzTradeIn.com and CExchange.com are amongst the top site out there. PowerMax is another option as an Apple Authorized Specialist and I'm sure there are more. Just make sure you do your homework and pick a reputable site.


So how much can I expect?

At the time of this post, the following iPads, if in perfect condition with all the accessories, would yield the following amounts on Gazelle.com:
  • Apple iPad 16GB WiFi: $300
  • Apple iPad 16GB WiFi+3G: $320
  • Apple iPad 32GB WiFi: $340
  • Apple iPad 32GB WiFi+3G: $350
  • Apple iPad 64GB WiFi: $405
  • Apple iPad 64GB WiFi+3G: $510
*These are a drop from earlier in the day when they were anywhere from $50-75 higher

eBay currently remains the best place to sell your iPad. Based off resale prices of a 32GB iPad Wi-Fi+3G in excellent condition the average final price from 25 completed listings is about $580. This will likely fluctuate as more and more people list their iPads and auction become convoluted so be prepared for the fact you may not get as much as others or as much as you think you might. eBay's instant sale site is another great option for those looking to leave out the hassle of dealing with auctions. Just keep in mind in most cases you'll get hit with eBay listing fees, final value fees and possibly PayPal fees.

Sale now or what until later?

Honestly, in my opinion and opinion only, if you have an iPad now the iPad 2 isn't enough of an upgrade to warrant spending a couple hundred dollars. Sure its the newest thing on the market and it has that new dual core chip. But can you say you would even notice. Not likely! If however you can't wait and absolutely must have it on March 11th when it comes out then by all means sale ASAP. As more and more iPads hit the market the price will come down.

Malware Infects Android Market Several Apps Removed

Some rather unscrupulous developers dumped several nasty pieces of malware into the Android Marketplace over the weekend. A total of 50 apps were affected in one way or the other totaling about "50k-200k downloads combined in 4 days."

A full list of the 50 programs that were either pirated or renamed versions of legitimate Android software can be found at Android Police, who originally reported the issue. Following those reports several more applications were found to have been intentionally infected with a piece of malware dubbed "DreamDroid."

Those applications were from publishers named Kingmall2010 and we20090202 and Myournet, all users have since been removed. In total, more than 50 programs have been pulled from the Android Market.

An analysis of the DroidDream malware by Kaspersky Lab malware researcher Tim Armstrong showed that it's quite stealthy and efficient at its tasks.

"So what is the purpose of this Trojan? The application will attempt to gather product ID, device type, language, country, and userID among other things, and then upload them to a remote server. Unlike most of the other samples seen so far, there is no attempt at sending or receiving premium rate SMS messages," Armstrong wrote in his analysis of the Android malware.

"DroidDream is packaged inside of seemingly legitimate applications posted to the Android Market in order to trick users into downloading it, a pattern we've seen in other instances of Android malware such as Geinimi and HongTouTou," said Lookout CTO Kevin Mahaffey. "Unlike previous instances of malware in the wild that were only available in geographically targeted alternative app markets, DroidDream was available in the official Android Market, indicating a growing need for mainstream consumers to be aware of the apps they download and to actively protect their smart phones."

Google doesn't utilize the stringent application processes other companies use ofr inclusion into their app store. Developers can essentially upload any app they want without so much as a twinge. This openness is part of what has made Google and Android as success. But that same openness leave users open to attacks such as these.Perhaps the only actual protection users have lies in Google's ability to remotely remove applications that are found to be harmful, as it has done here but this action tends to be reactive, not proactive.

Symantec security researcher Mario Ballano recently posted an analysis of "Android.Pjapps," a backdoor Trojan that Chinese hackers used to hijack the legit Steamy Windows app. The malware infiltrated a user's smart phone to send invisible text messages to premium rate numbers, that would then reward the hackers with a commission.

These are only a few of a number of increasingly popular attacks on smartphones as use of devices increase. More of these types of attacks are immanent so users should make themselves more aware of the potential threats they face and not let themselves be blindly led.

Refurbished iPads Now $349-659, Get 'Em While Their Hot

Looking for a great deal on the 'old' iPad, well no fear the fine folks over at Apple have just dropped the price on their refurbished models to make way for the new thinner lighter iPad 2.

The new iPad 2 might be thinner and lighter and pack a bit more punch but last year's model was no slouch. So why pay top dollar for the new one when you can get yesteryear's model at such a great price! Apple has lowered the price of the basic model refurbished iPad down to an incredible $349 or $150 less than the new iPad 2. The Apple Store has all of the details. The prices range from:

  • $349 for the 16GB WiFi model
  • $479 for the 16GB WiFi + 3G model
  • $529 for the 64GB WiFi model
  • $559 for the 32GB  WiFi + 3G model
  • $659 for the 64GB WiFi + 3G model

Apple notes regarding their refurbished Apple iPad devices:
  • Stringent refurbishment process prior to sale
  • Covered by Apple's One-Year Limited Warranty 
  • AppleCare Protection Plan can be purchased
  • Engraving and gift wrap not available for refurbished iPads
  • Supplies are limited
  • Comes with all manuals and accessories
  • New battery and outer shell (to me this makes the device look brand new)
  • Brand new white box?? (ha!)

    So if you aren't into the latest greats and want to save yourself a little of that hard earned cash you might want to head over to the Apple Store and see what they have to offer.

    Update: For those of you looking for deals on new iPads Apple has slashed prices on them as well. Pricing is listed as follows:


    That would be $100 off the original pricing making these a pretty decent deal.

    Good Sites Affected By Google Algorithm

    Last week we reported that Google had made a significant algorithm change targeting low-quality content farms and scrapers removing them from the top of search results. To the dismay of several webmasters the new changes have now taken full affect and some well know, highly publicized, highly followed sites have taken a hit.

    Well webmasters rejoice, there might be a reprieve in your future.

    “We deeply care about the people who are generating high-quality content sites, which are the key to a healthy web ecosystem,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal told Wired. “However, we don’t manually change anything along these lines. Therefore any time a good site gets a lower ranking or falsely gets caught by our algorithm — and that does happen once in a while even though all of our testing shows this change was very accurate — we make a note of it and go back the next day to work harder to bring it closer to 100 percent. That’s exactly what we are going to do, and our engineers are working as we speak building a new layer on top of this algorithm to make it even more accurate than it is.”

    Cult of Mac, an Apple-centric blog took a beating following the new changes — losing nearly all of its Google juice causing traffic to the site to fall by one-third to one-half over the weekend. Since that time Cult of Mac’s editor Leander Kahney has wrote a follow-up to Wired.com to say that his site suddenly recovered its Google juice Tuesday a.m. before a report outlining Google's attempts to help some site owners.

    Google has not said they are specifically looking at sites on a case by case basis. Nor have they said they will, or have they offered to look into any particular site. In fact the company states:

    So what changed for Cult of Mac. It could be nothing, it could just be the algorithm working itself out. Its likely that with any of these changes that most site owners are going to need to site and wait this one out for a few days.

    In an odd twist of fate Cult of Mac, was at least for a time, outranked by sites that have reprinted it's original content without permission. For now, the site plans to send copyright notices to some of the sites, stop publishing full RSS feeds to make re-posters have to work harder and contact Google in hopes of restoring the site’s search traffic. Hopefully they will report the content scrapers to Google as well to get them taken down!

    My thoughts

    Its interesting that Wired points out sites like Associated Content and Mahalo. I always thought that Google should have excluded these sites from day one. Now it appears as though they are two of the highly visible sites that are taking a serious hit from the Google changes. Allen Stern over at CenterNetworks reported yesterday that Mahalo will be cutting 10% of it's headcount. This may just be a preemptive strike by Calacanis and crew but it shows the power of Google.

    Sadly sites like Cult of Mac, and the few others mentioned in the Wired story, are casualties of war. But I did find it odd that in some of my own searches I saw the same paradox CoM faced. I found scrapped content and content farms actually ranking higher than their original counterparts. So to me it seems Google's new algorithm might have had the opposite affect.

    Thinner, Lighter, Faster iPad 2 Announced

    It comes as no surprise that during today's Apple press event the new iPad 2 was announced. What may be a surprise is that it is supposedly going to be available next week. Yes that's right, Apple said you'll be able to get your geeky little hands on the new iPad 2 March 11th.


    The breakdown

    The new iPad will be shrink in thickness some 33% from13.4mm down to 8.8mm. It will also shed some weight dropping from 1.5lbs down to 1.3 lbs and it now comes in two colors, traditional black and a new white version that will be ready on the first day of shipments.

    Specs wise there are some pleasant surprises and some not so pleasant ones. You'll now get that front facing VGA camera for FaceTime you've always wanted. You'll also get a new three-axis gyroscope to work in conjunction with the accelerometer and compass to sense which direction your iPad is heading and how it’s moving. So games, maps, and other apps know your every twist, turn, tilt, and 360. The best part might just be the addition of a new dual core Apple ARM Cortex-A5 processor for 2x the speed and up to 9x the graphics power.


    iPad 2 comes with iOS 4.3 preinstalled, with all the new features including faster Safari mobile browsing performance; iTunes Home Sharing; enhancements to AirPlay; the choice to use the iPad side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute audio; and Personal Hotspot to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection over Wi-Fi. Additional iPad 2 features include HSUPA support for enhanced 3G upload speeds on iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G on AT&T, and HDMI Video Mirroring that lets users mirror their iPad screen on an HDTV using an optional adaptor.

    What is surprisingly missing is the rumored retina display and SD ports as well as a very questionable rumor of a price drop. Apple has decided to keep the prices unchanged despite some rather minor updates.

    Pricing & Availability
    iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available on March 11 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G compatible with the Verizon network will be available in the US only for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 will be sold in the US through the Apple Store (www.apple.com).

    For more information see the Apple press release or visit Apple.com/iPad.

    Update: For those of you that want to view the entire keynote Apple has posted the video online.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    Is This The New Windows 8 UI? We Sure Hope Not

    The folks over at Microsoft have released a new video showing of a radically new user interface that many are speculating could end up in Windows 8.

    >

    In the above video, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, shows off a new user interface that could conceivably be incorporated into Windows 8. This is pure speculation of course but it is certain that MS is working on some new radical designs.

    As you can tell from the video this new interface is something out of this world for MS and a huge risk to say the least. Gone are the traditional taskbar, start menu and icons that are all to familiar to traditional operating systems. In their place are "bubbles" that interact with files and post streaming information off the internet.

    Bubbles are auto-generated in various categories (personal, entertainment, gaming, etc.) and can also be created by a user. Clicking on a bubble brings up a program or interaction item. For example clicking on a bubble for an upcoming flight will display alternate flight times with weather-based probability for delays. Users could use the interface to switch their flight, should the desire.

    From my perspective it looks like it would be a very user friendly touch interface but hardly one meant for a traditional desktop. Many sites have already reported that Windows 8 is getting a new UI make over and the main interface will be codenamed “Wind" and is supposedly going to incorporate more 3d effects but I really question that this would be it. It could be a new UI for touch specific devices but I doubt MS would take this big a risk on their desktop OS. I like the idea of real-time updates but I'm not big on the "bubbles" look. I recall seeing a website out there awhile back that had this type of interface and it was too easy to get lost jumping from place to place.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Pre-Order Homefront Get A Free OnLive Gaming System

    OnLive is doing an exclusive promotion now through March 14th. Order a FullPlay Pass of Homefront at $49.99 and you'll receive a free On-Live gaming system as well as free FullPlay Pass for Metro 2033.You'll be on the hook for taxes and shipping but you are getting a $99 system and free $39.99 FullPass for just 50 bucks.

    Here is the cavit, OnLive says this is open to a limited number of subscribers while supplies last but does not mention the exact number. So this could be a bit of a crap shoot on the "free" system, you'll still get the free game however.

    The full details:

    ALL SALES ARE FINAL. NO REFUNDS. NO RETROACTIVE DISCOUNTS. Purchase a Full PlayPass for “Homefront” between February 25, 2011 (2:00 PM PST) and March 14, 2011 (11:59PM PDT) and receive a promo code for a Full PlayPass to “Metro 2033” shortly after purchase. A limited number of OnLive subscribers will also receive an email after March 14, 2011 (11:59PM PDT) containing a promo code for a FREE OnLive Game System. Shipping, handling and tax for the OnLive Game System not included. The free OnLive Game System offer is valid during “Homefront” pre-order while supplies last. Promo codes for “Metro 2033” and free OnLive Game System (while supplies last) must be redeemed by March 31, 2011 (11:59PM PDT). Terms are subject to change without notice. Only valid within the contiguous United States while connected to the OnLive Game Service. Game purchases are not transferable. No cash value. Game pre-orders may be cancelled and refunds are available at any time before the game is released on the OnLive Game Service. Cancellation of the pre-order cancels offer promo codes, the “Metro 2033” Full PlayPass, and the free OnLive Game System offer. Contact OnLive Customer Service for cancellation and refund requests at support@onlive.com or 1-888-ONLIVE-5.

    For more details you can checkout this On-Live Blog post.

    AntennaGate All Over Again Verizon iPhone Suffers 'Death Grip'

    The Verizon iPhone 4 may be a new incarnation of the old AT&T iPhone but it appears as though Apple didn't fix one of the phones old issues, the so called 'death grip' problem that led to AntennaGate.

    According to Consumer Reports, lab tests have shown that the Verizon iPhone 4 suffers from a "death grip" problem similar to last summer's AT&T model. This resulted in the phone suffering the same issue of dropping calls, weak signals, the inability to place calls and an overall poor performance.

    "The problem is similar to the one we confirmed in July with the AT&T version of Apple's newest smart phone. It can occur when you hold either version of the phone in a specific but quite natural way in which a gap in the phone's external casing is covered. The phone performs superbly in most other respects, and using the iPhone 4 with a case can alleviate the problem," said Paul Reynolds, the magazine's electronics editor, in a blog post.

    The issue facing the new iPhone meant Consumer Reports again declined to put the device on its "recommended" list, even though the device is among its highest-rated smartphones.

    Apple no longer offers a free case to buyers of the iPhone 4, as it did for a time limited time after the problem was first discovered on the AT&T version. However Consumer Reports says that a bumper for the Verizon version should alleviate the problems much like it did previously with the AT&T phones.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Google Makes An Algorithm Change Promises More High-Quality Sites In Search

    In an attempt at returning more high-quality sites in their search results Google has made a major shift in their search algorithms. The move seems to be a major shift for Google as it says the new algorithms will "noticeably impact 11.8% of queries."

    "This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

    We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does."

    Personally I think its a great move! Spammers and content farms creating sites with nothing more than great SEO and very little (if any) original content shouldn't be rewarded with high rankings and front page turnouts. Sites that work their collective butts off and provide users with good quality content should garner more attention and be reward.

    Its a little early in the game to tell how well the new algorithm works, or if it will have any impact on my own searches or our site. But hopefully it will silence some of the critics like Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch (one of my favorite haunts). He has been  heavily criticizing Google for several weeks of what he call "a lack of quality search results", particularly in certain categories like travel and commerce.

    Hopefully as Arrington says "sites like Demand Media, Associated Content and Mahalo" are on the cut list, but I kind of doubt it!

    Apple Updates MacBook Pro, Previews Mac OSX Lion

    Today made two exciting announcements for Apple fans. The first announcement being an update to the MacBook Pro lineup to include the latest Intel CPUs and AMD based graphics and even more interesting the inclusion of Intel's new high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology. The second major announcement came in the form of a developer preview of Apple's next generation operating system dubbed Mac OSX Lion.

    Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Next Generation Processors, Graphics & Thunderbolt I/O Technology

    The announcement of the new MacBook lineup should be an exciting one for Apple fanboys. The new Intel chips are expected to boost performance significantly with Apple touting a perform boost of up to twice the speed of the previous generation. The GPUs in the new MacBook also got a major overhaul with Apple making a surprising move and dropping long time partner NVIDIA for AMD.

    MacBook users will have the option to select either an AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory on 2.0GHz configuration; or AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory on 2.2GHz configuration. Other users will get Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. Apple is claiming the new GPUs will perform up to 3x faster than the previous generation.

    In addition to the new CPUs and GPUs the MacBook Pro is the first computer on the market to include the new ultra fast Thunderbolt I/O technology. Developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on a notebook computer. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

    Buy The New MacBook Pro
    Pricing & Availability

    The new 13-inch MacBook Pro, 15-inch MacBook Pro and 17-inch MacBook Pro are available through the Apple Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available in two configurations: one with a 2.3 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 and 320GB hard drive starting at $1,199; and one with a 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,499. The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is available in two models: one with a 2.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6490M and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799 and one with a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 750GB hard drive starting at $2,199. The new 17-inch MacBook Pro features a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 750GB hard drive and is priced at $2,499.

    Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.3 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 750GB, solid state storage up to 512GB, more memory up to 8GB DDR3, antiglare and high-resolution display options and AppleCare Protection Plan. Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/macbookpro.


    Apple Releases Developer Preview of Mac OS X Lion

     In their second announcement today, and possibly the most exciting news for Apple fans, Apple gave developers a preview of Mac OS X Lion. This the eighth major release of Apple's operating system takes some of the best ideas from iPad and brings them back to the Mac.

    Lion features Mission Control, an innovative new view of everything running on your Mac; Launchpad, a new home for all your Mac apps; full screen apps that use the entire Mac display; and new Multi-Touch gestures. Lion also includes the newly introduced Mac App Store, which allows users to install and automatically update Mac apps via iTunes.

    The Lion preview is available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store today, and the final version of Lion will ship to customers this summer. 

    Additional features in Lion include:
    • a new version of Mail, with an elegant, widescreen layout inspired by the iPad; Conversations, which automatically groups related messages into one easy to read timeline; more powerful search; and support for Microsoft Exchange 2010;
    • AirDrop, a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup;
    • Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, edit and even revert to previous versions; 
    • Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app; 
    • Auto Save, which automatically saves your documents as you work;
    • the all new FileVault, that provides high performance full disk encryption for local and external drives, and the ability to wipe data from your Mac instantaneously; and 
    • Mac OS X Lion Server, which makes setting up a server easier than ever and adds support for managing Mac OS X Lion, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    iFixit Does A Motorola Atrix Teardown

    Thanks to the folks at iFixit Motorola Atrix fans get to see the inner workings of their new toy.

    Courtesy iFixit


    The iFixit geeks have done the usual awesome job on their Motorola Atrix teardown which reveals the full details of the inner workings of the Atrix as well as the usual easy to follow step by step guide on how to get to those workings.

    The phone is equipped with 16GB of NAND flash, 4" qHD (Quarter High Definition) PenTile LCD Display capable of 960x480 resolution , 1GB DDR2 RAM and a beast of a chip in the 1 GHz Cortex-A9 Dual-Core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU. There are also two cameras one 5 MP Rear-facing camera with 720p video capture (A software update to be released soon will reportedly allow for full 1080p video capture.) and VGA Front-facing camera

    Even more exciting for DIY'ers is that the teardown reveals that the glass panel is not glued to the LCD. This means that for those of us that are clumsy and drop and break our phone's screens or those that are always scratching the screens there is hope that we may be able to swap out the glass on our own.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Kmart Is Looking For Gamers To Send To E3

    The Consumer Electronics branch of Kmart is giving a few lucky blogging gamers the chance chance to attend the E3 expo on the company's dime. So if you are a gamer, can write a good blog post and want the chance to attend E3 listen up!

    Beginning today through March 30, KmartGamer, an online resource and community for video gamers, is seeking submissions from gaming bloggers interested in attending the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which takes place June 7 – 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

    You will attend the gaming trade show on behalf of KmartGamer and will be reporting on all the E3 action for the site. Foe consideration you must
    • Be a skilled storyteller that's both passionate and knowledgeable about gaming, or a specific platform or genre. This passion must shine through clearly in your writing, photography, video -- everything you do that's gaming-related. In addition to being a general gamer and gaming enthusiast, you also have a clear passion in a specialty. This could be a platform, or a genre (e.g. sports, FPS).
    • Bloggers must be actively involved in gaming forums, sites or other channels (e.g. Twitter) where they talk about gaming. They're a recognized, trusted name on those channels and have a following. (Meaning they didn't just sign up for CAG yesterday.)

    To be considered, video-game bloggers must follow the simple, two-step submission process:
    • Step One: Write a blog post that states why KmartGamer should select them for participation, including providing the following information within their post:
      • Why are you interested in going to E3?
      • What would you be excited to see and cover at E3?
      • Why do you want to go to E3 with KmartGamer?
      • Describe your experiences with KmartGamer, such as how you learned about this call for submissions or how you discovered the various KmartGamer online resources.
    • Step Two: Link their individual blog submission as a comment on the official KmartGamer.com blog announcing the call for submissions, located at http://www.mykmart.com/mykmart_blog/KmartGamer-bloggers-e3-2011. Bloggers are also required to supply their e-mail and mailing addresses in the necessary entry fields found on the KmartGamer.com blog by Wednesday, March 30.

    Following the submission process, a team of Kmart Consumer Electronics representatives will review the applicants and select three bloggers to attend E3 on its behalf and blog about their experiences. KmartGamer will also provide bloggers with travel and hotel expense and a daily per diem for the three-day expo.

    Gaming enthusiasts can also follow KmartGamer on Twitter at twitter.com/kmartgamer or on the KmartGamer blog at www.kmartgamer.com. Additionally, to learn about the latest Kmart consumer electronics offers and news visit, www.kmart.com/electronics.

    For more details checkout the KmartGamer blog post "KmartGamer is going to E3 2011 -- and you can too!"

    Linux Foundation Hosting Android Builders Summit and Embedded Linux Conference

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, has announced the 2011 Android Builder Summit to take place from 13 to 14 April at the Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco. Following the Embedded Linux Conference, the ABS will run for one and a half days, starting at 1 pm on the 13 April. The ELC runs from the 11 to 13 April.

    The Android Builders Summit is a technical summit for OEMs, their device manufacturers, integrators, custom builders, and the growing Android and Linux Kernel developer communities. Android is expanding to an increasing number of industry segments in addition to smart phones and tablets. There is a need for the ecosystem of builders to collaborate on a common solution for existing limitations and desired features across all of these device categories.


    The Android Builders Summit provides an intimate forum for collaboration at the systems level and discussion of core issues and opportunities when designing Android devices.

    The summit addresses topics ranging from custom builds, alternative middleware, network functionality extensions, Peer to Peer frameworks, USB device support, security, unification of power management, tools and hybrid Android devices among many other topics.

    Co-Located with the 2011 Embedded Linux Conference, the Android Builders Summit is 1.5 days, beginning at 1:00pm on Wednesday, April 13th and continuing on April 14th with a full day of exclusive Android content including keynote presentations from Qualcomm Innovation Center and Motorola. This is an excellent opportunity for companies participating in Android-based product development to interact and exchange ideas with their industry colleagues and other participants from the Android community. Immediately following the summit, The Linux Foundation will be offering its recently announced Android Training classes.

    Who Should Attend:
    • Android OEMs and Device manufacturers and integrators
    • Android Custom Builders, and those wanting to bring Android to new market segments
    • Android and Linux Kernel developer communities

    If you are interested in attending the Android Builders Summit it is encouraged that you to sign up early as there is limited space, and the event always reaches capacity. You can find registration information here.

    Registration Fees

    • General Registration Fee: $295
    • Embedded Linux Conference Attendees: $100 - If you are attending the Embedded Linux Conference, you can register for this event as part of your ELC registration.  Do not use this registration form if you are attending ELC.
    • Student Registration Fee: $100 (Be prepared to show your valid student id onsite)
    • Group Registration Discounts: If your organization if planning to send three or more people to ABS, please contact usThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a 20% discount code.

    Amazon Gives Prime Members Unlimited Instant Video Streaming

    Amazon Prime members got a great gift this morning when Amazon announced the company's plans to offer them a new benefit: unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows. This new benefit is being added at no additional cost to current and new Amazon Prime members and whats even better the membership will continue to only cost $79 per year.

    There is one downside however, the free service is only available to those that actually pay for an Amazon Prime membership – those that receive a free Student or Amazon Mom Prime membership are out of luck.

    "Millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy the convenience of free Two-Day Shipping," said Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime. "Adding unlimited instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost is a great way to give members even more value for their $79 annual Amazon Prime membership."

    Movies and TV shows included with an Amazon Prime membership can be watched instantly on Macs, PCs and nearly 200 models of Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes that are compatible with Amazon Instant Video. The selection of videos available for instant streaming currently includes movies, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, "Amadeus," "Syriana," and "Chariots of Fire," noted documentaries such as "Food Inc.," "March of the Penguins" and "Ken Burns' National Parks," plus TV shows, such as "Doctor Who," "Farscape," "Fawlty Towers" and children's shows, such as "Arthur," "Caillou," "Super Why!" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

    Customers can learn more about an Amazon Prime one-month free trial and start watching instantly at www.amazon.com/primevideos. For more information on Amazon Instant Video, visit www.amazon.com/instantvideo.

    Winodws 7 SP1 Now Available

    The first service pack for Windows 7 has finally made its public debut.

    Six days ago, Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 became available for MSDN/TechNet subscribers and had been leaked to the web via torrent for several days. Today however it is officially available for the rest of the world. Other than all the incremental hptfixes that Microsoft has released to date SP1 only contains two major new features, which will not affect the majority of users. The first being RemoteFX, a standalone product that requires Windows Server 2008 R2 to be used. The second feature is an update for HyperV in Windows Server 2008 R2 called "Dynamic Memory". The feature is as simple as it sounds -- it dynamically allocates memory to virtual machines as required and is able to remove memory from virtual machines when others need higher resources.

    You can read more about the new features over on the Windows Server Team Blog.

    Download Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (KB976932) directly from Microsoft.

    Google Hit With More Antitrust Charges Over Advertising

    A French Internet company 1plusV has filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming Google Inc. is abusing its dominant market position to stop smaller competitors from generating advertising revenues.

    1plusV is the parent company of  French search engine eJustice.fr. which offers users a thematic search engine but claims it has been forced to adopt Google technology to access commercially vital advertising services. The Versailles-based firm is a competitor to Google's own thematic search but has claimed Google forced thematic search engines to adopt its own technology if they wanted to use its advertising service, thus limiting the development of alternative technologies.

    The company also claims that Google ignored requests by certain websites not to be listed among search results, which gave it a competitive advantage over search engines that did respect those requests. 1plusV is also claiming that Google is prioritizing its own vertical, or thematic, searches for books over those of competitors, without visually differentiating them from the rest of the searches.

    The European commission opened an investigation into the market dominance of Google last November after months of mounting complaints.Under those charges the commission was investigating whether Google lowered the position among unpaid results of services with which it competes, such as price comparison or specialized search, and placed its own services higher to shut out competition. The commission is also investigating allegations that Google lowered its quality score for sponsored, or paid, links of competing search services.

    "We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission, explaining many aspects of our business. We believe there is always room for improvement, so we are working to address any potential concerns," said Google spokesman Al Verney, referring to the new complaint on Tuesday.

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    New Anti Kill-Switch Bill Introduced

    The three U.S. senators that were initially responsible for legislation that many dubbed the "Internet Kill-Switch" have introduced a new bill that would clearly and concisely remove those powers from government control.

    The new legislation entitled the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act (PDF) explicitly states that “neither the President, the Director of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications or any officer or employee of the United States Government shall have the authority to shut down the Internet.” It also provides an opportunity for judicial review of designations of our most sensitive systems and assets as “covered critical infrastructure.”

    In a statement released this afternoon Senator Lieberman the original author of the "Internet Kill Switch" said:

    “We want to clear the air once and for all. As someone said recently, the term 'kill switch' has become the ‘death panels’ of the cybersecurity debate. There is no so-called ‘kill switch’ in our legislation because the very notion is antithetical to our goal of providing precise and targeted authorities to the President. Furthermore, it is impossible to turn off the Internet in this country. This legislation applies to the most critical infrastructures that Americans rely on in their daily lives – energy transmission, water supply, financial services, for example – to ensure that those assets are protected in case of a potentially crippling cyber attack.  

    The so-called ‘internet kill switch’ debate has eclipsed discussion of actual, substantive provisions in this bill that would significantly improve the security of all Americans by creating a new national center to prevent and respond to cyber attacks, requiring critical infrastructure owners - for the first time - to shore up cyber vulnerabilities, and establishing a strategy to secure the federal IT supply chain.  I look forward to working with Senator Reid to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the floor early this year.”

    I haven't yet had the chance to review all of the new 221-page bill but have noticed the addition of the the new provision and have to say this is definitely a major step in the right direction. The old versions of the bill were very vague and offered broad wording.

    Much of the old bill remains and many of the provisions are still in place. For instance the new bill would require the creation of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, the creation of a Directors position for that agency and the establishment of a cybersecurity research and development program in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    Other provisions include the creation of regulations to require owners of critical infrastructure to fix cyber-vulnerabilities and would create a national center focused on preventing and responding to cyberattacks. The bill also would reform the cybersecurity rules for federal agencies, and it would setup guidelines for the hiring and training of federal employees and contractors engaged in the design, development, or operation of agency information infrastructure.

    Intel Now Shipping Fixed 6-series Chipsets

    According to DigiTimes Intel has begun shipping revised 6-series (Sandy Bridge) chipsets to first-tier notebook and motherboard manufactures. The new B3 stepping chipsets will replace the previously released defective units in the marketplace.

    Late last month Intel announced they found a flaw in their new 6-Series 'Sandy Bridge' motherboards that resulted in degradation of some of the Serial ATA ports on those boards. Intel immediately halted shipments of the affected chipset and manufactures began a recall.

    Originally the Cougar Point revision wasn't slated to hit OEMs until the end of the month. However pressures from manufacturers and a strong push towards AMD may have driven the company to bring a solution sooner than expected.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Report: DOJ And FTC Have Antitrust Questions For Apple

    According to reports from the Wall Street Journal the Justice Department and the FTC are both interested in examining whether Apple is violating U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies' customers into the payment system for its iTunes store—and taking their 30% cut.

    Even though this sounds like bad news this new scrutiny may never materialize into anything more than a preliminary report. Both agencies threatened formal revues when Apple blocked third party development applications. Apple later eased off those restrictions leading both agencies to back down. Its likely that could happen in this case and even more likely that the government is posturing to appease the masses.

    Several antitrust lawyers have chimed on the antitrust issues raised from Apple's new in app subscription policy with many stating that Apple may actually face little risk of antitrust violations.

    "It would be a steep, uphill climb," Hillard Sterling, an antitrust attorney and partner with the Chicago-based law firm of Freeborn & Peters told ComputerWorld.com. "The challengers would have to show that Apple has precluded competition in the marketplace. But there are plenty of platforms where publishers can offer their products outside the App Store."

    To make a case against Apple, antitrust enforcers would have to show that Apple has market power and is abusing it. This will all come down to how they choose to define a market. Apple's iPhone currently only has a 16% share of overall smartphone sales while the iPad currently has three-quarters of world-wide tablet-computer sales.

    Apple's Control Over Their Market

    It all comes down to what the goverment will consider a 'market'. To make an antitrust case, plaintiffs would have to show that the new App Store rules prevent companies from selling their content. Sterling argues, "And that's a no brainer. They can offer their products through alternatives, such as Google's Android Market."

    The major problem I see, and the point that I think is continually lost, is that Apple controls everything in their market. They preclude any competition from forming since they only allow iOS and MAC OSX on Apple branded devices and only those devices can use the App store and Mac store. If developers want to share in the 'Apple Market' they have to play by Apple's rules.

    MacBook Pro The fastest, most powerful MacBook Pro

    Exclusivity in and of itself isn't anti-competitive. Apple has the right to maintain control over their products as long as it doesn't hurt consumer choice or stifle competition. Apple has had a long standing position of exclusivity and has always sandboxed themselves from any outside competition. They don't allow any other company to create iOS or MAC OSX devices which quells all means of competition against them as a manufacture. The question here will be are they now using the position as not just hardware developers but software developers to create a hostile position.

    Apple locks their devices to only be able to install apps through the App store and iTunes. This means they control the devices, the store and the means of distribution for hundreds of thousand of apps and millions upon millions of devices. Companies and developers not trying to work within the App store could potentially take a serious hit to business!

    Apple Positions It's Software To Thrive

    The second side of an antitrust inquiry could bring up the issues of tying software and creating a better environment for your software to thrive than outside competition. This is similar to what Microsoft has faced with Internet Explorer and other bundled Windows software.

    Clearly Apple's own software such as iTunes, iBooks and Safari have been unfairly positioned. Apple blocks outside browsers, media players and media viewers. By this means alone they could be violating antitrust laws. Now with the "tax" on subscriptions they are putting competing content providers like Rhapsody, Sony and Amazon at a clear disadvantage.

    Jon Irwin, the president of Rhapsody International Inc. has said that the new 30% fee would cut so deeply into the companies profit margins that they would no longer be able to compete.

    "We have to pay rights holders, the music labels and publishers, for our content," said Irwin. "With all those fees that go out, [adding] Apple's 30% will exceed the revenue on our product. It's not a matter of making less money, it would be zero profit."

    Companies like Rhapsody would be forced to raise prices in order to recoup lost revenues putting their prices significantly higher than Apple's own offerings. This would seriously hamper any competition within the App Store. Apple has maintained that users can go outside the app to buy those subscriptions although it seems clear by means of ease of use and the 'single-click sign-up option' iTunes offers iTunes would likely become the dominant means for subscribers to subscribe. This means that devs could lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Why Now After All This Time

    You really have to question the timing in which Apple has chosen to enforce the subscription policy. Apple has stated the policy was already within the terms of service yet they have waited until developers have spent hundreds on development dollars, man hours and advertising revenues to bolster a position within the App store and draw customers. But its only now that Apple decided to enforce those rules.

    The company has clearly benefited from the works of outside developers yet they wait until now when they have a strong position in the market to enforce their rules. This seems like strong arming and sounds very extortionistic to me. It wreaks of Apple saying we want our cut or we'll dump your app and you can kiss all those customers and advertising dollars good bye!

    No I'm Not An Apple Hater!

    As much as I speak out against Apple I'm not a hater. In fact I applaud them for pushing not just the PC/Tablet industry but also the smartphone industry at a time that they both were rather stagnant. I also applaud them for seeing the potential in a device (or string of devices) and doing a great marketing job. Through their actions the company has done some pretty great things to push others.

    The flip-side to that is that I feel you should hold all companies equally accountable. We should not grant top tier companies the right to completely exclude competition in the way Apple does. In short terms I think turn-about should be fair play. If Apple want to push to get Safari on Windows and other OSs then shouldn't they in-turn be forced to allow IE, Firefox and Chrome on iOS.

    Intel Offers Advice On Protecting Your Handheld Device or Laptop from Water Damage

    Anyone that has ever killed their phone or laptop because of an accident spill or splash down in the pool has inevitability asked themselves 'isn't there a way I could have saved my device". In fact there may just have been a chance that you could have revived your device. You just needed a little quick thinking, some ingenuity and of course a few essential tools.

    Well today Intel comes to the rescue and gives us an article that we thought would be useful for our readers on how to protect and recover from water damage.

    Contact with Liquid is not the End of Your Smartphone or PC

    A TV ad shows a woman seated at a local coffee shop, surfing the web on her laptop for a last-second gift.A passer-by bumps the table and knocks the woman's hot coffee onto the computer.

    If this has ever happened to you, you probably think it's time to buy a new handheld or computer.

    Not so fast. While no computer or handheld is impervious to water or other liquids, you might be able to bring your workhorse device back from near-death in a few easy steps. It will take you about a day or so, but it could be worth the effort.

    Here's what to do after a liquid-based accident involving your handheld or laptop.

    Resurrecting a Smartphone or Cell Phone
    In the popular crime scene/criminal investigation-type television shows, there's always an episode where a murder victim's phone is found in a swimming pool. The phone contains vital information to solving the murder, and the detectives somehow manage to dry the phone off and get it running again. Sound impossible? Not really. Here's how to bring your handheld back from a watery demise:
    • Get it out of the water as soon as possible. Plastic covers on cell phones are fairly tight, but water can still enter the phone within 20 seconds or less.
    • Remove the battery. Many circuits inside the phone will survive immersion in water if they are not attached to a power source when wet.
    • Remove the SIM and memory cards, if your phone has them. SIM and memory cards survive water damage well, as long as you don't heat them. Just pat them dry with a paper towel and set them aside until you need to reconnect your phone to your cellular network.
    • Remove any covers and external connectors. This will open up as many gaps, slots, and crevices in the phone as possible to allow for more thorough drying.
    • Get the water out. Carefully shake the phone without dropping it, then use a cloth towel or paper towel to gently remove as much of the remaining water as possible. Dry excess moisture by hand.
    • Rinse carefully. If your phone falls into the ocean or another form of salt water, rinse it with fresh water before salt crystals can form in the phone after removing the battery.
    • If possible, use a vacuum cleaner. This will remove all residual moisture by drawing it away from internal circuitry. Hold the vacuum at least two inches away over the affected (and accessible) areas for up to 20 minutes to avoid problems with static.
    • Use a can of compressed air. Hold the air can straight up (holding it upside down, sideways, or at an angle will shoot out the customary freezing liquid) and shoot into the crevices, speaker, microphone, and keypad. Any excess water should come out. 
    • Use a water-soaking substance water to help draw out moisture. An overnight dry "soak" in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice or desiccant gel works well.
    • Let the phone sit on absorbent towels, napkins, or other paper. Check the absorbent material every hour for four to six hours. If moisture is evident, change cloth or paper and continue to let the phone sit.
    • Test your phone. After you have waited a day or so, make sure everything is clean and looks dry. Then reinsert the battery and try turning it on. If your phone does not work, try plugging it into its charger without the battery.
      • If your phone works, you need a new battery.
      • If not, take your cell phone to an authorized dealer. Don't try to hide the fact that it has been wet—internal indicators will prove the presence of moisture.

    A Second Life for Your Laptop
    Even though most laptops now have sealed keyboards to keep fluid from leaking into the computer circuitry (or at least slow its progress for up to an hour), spills are still one of the major causes of laptop deaths. Here's how to minimize damage if a spill occurs.
    If it's water you're dealing with:
    • Immediately turn off the machine. If necessary, do a hard shutdown by pressing and holding the power button. 
    • Use a soft cloth to blot up—not wipe up—excess liquid. A wiping motion will merely push the liquid around.
    • Remove any external cables, drives, network cards, and bays. Blot up liquid that may have gotten onto the removable media.
    • Don't take apart the casing. This can damage internal components and void your warranty, if applicable.
    • Tilt the laptop gently from side to side to allow liquid to drain out. Do not shake the machine.
    • Turn the laptop upside down to drain remaining excess liquid.
    • If you have one, use a blow dryer on the coolest setting and carefully dry the keyboard and any parts you have removed. Keep the dryer moving over all parts.
    • Let the laptop air dry upside down for at least one hour; 24 hours is preferred.
    • When the laptop is dry, reattach any removable components and start up the machine.
      • If it starts with no problems, test-run several programs and try using the external media.
      • If you see sparks or smell any foul odors, immediately power down the system. Take the unit to a repair specialist.

    If you're dealing with a sticky or residue-based spill such as soda, juice or coffee:
    • Follow the above procedures, but carefully clean the surface of the unit after initial drying. Use a lightly damp, soft cloth with a diluted, 50-percent solution of isopropyl alcohol or watered-down window cleaner, a non-abrasive brand name cleaner or professional keyboard cleaner.
    • Don't forget to clean the touchpad in similar fashion.
    • Turn unit down and let it air dry for at least an hour; a day is preferred.
    • If necessary, take the unit to a repair specialist.

    Remember to back up your laptop's contents following the spill. Even if you successfully revive it, the machine may be on borrowed time and could malfunction in the future.