Monday, May 09, 2011

You Can Now Rent Movies Via YouTube

Google has officially expanded YouTube into the online rental market today with the announcement that the site will immediately begin allowing users to rent and stream full-length movies online.

As of today Google has begun adding around 3,000 new movie titles for rent which will be available to users in the U.S. Along side the feature films users will have access to reviews and behind-the-scenes movie extras. The selection is currently pretty limited but I did find a few of our favorite films. There are cult classics like Caddyshack, Goodfellas and Scarface. The new service also features a few new releases like Inception, The King’s Speech, Little Fockers, The Green Hornet and Despicable Me.

Movies are available to rent at what Google is calling "industry standard pricing", and can be watched with your YouTube account on any computer or YouTube capable device. The new titles will begin appearing later today and over the coming weeks to www.youtube.com/movies, so keep checking back.

Read More: YouTube Blog: Get more into movies on YouTube

Groupon Teams With Live Nation To Form GrouponLive

Building on the popularity of their daily deal site Groupon has teamed with ticket site Live Nation to create GrouponLive, a site for deep discounts on tickets to local concerts, sports, theater, and other live events.

The site itself is not totally live yet with the launch being planned just in time for the summer concert season however you can visit GrouponLive now and sign up with your e-mail address to receive limited-time deal notifications in the future.

"GrouponLive represents a new channel to drive value for fans, while helping artists and others to reach ever larger audiences," said Michael Rapino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Live Nation Entertainment. "By adding this channel to our ticketing platform, we will also provide our venue partners with another option for driving ticket sales across a wide range of events. Our success is based on selling tickets and filling seats and GrouponLive gives us another platform to achieve this."
The pairing of the two sites should be an interesting one. Live Nation currently operates the world's most popular ticketing service, Ticketmaster. It also runs Live Nation Concerts, which puts on over 20,000 shows from 2,000 artists around the world. Groupon of course, is one of the more popular deal-a-day providers featuring instant access to local deals. Personally I can't wait to see what kind of discounts we see on local events.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sony Offering US Users Free Debix ID Theft Protection

Sony is scrambling to make things right to those affected by the company's recent data breaches. As a move to help some of those affect the company has detailed a plan to give PSN users free enrollment in an identity theft protection program for up to one year.

Sony has contracted with Debix, Inc. to provide all US-based PSN and Qriocity account holders with 12 months of free coverage in the company's AllClearID Plus program. The year-long term will begin upon registration with the program, with eligible users having until June 18 to sign up. Sony has said users should start to receive activation e-mails for the service in the coming days. As for users in other countries and territories, Sony said it is working to make similar programs available for them, although it did not indicate when such initiatives would be detailed.

The details of the program include, but are not limited to:
  • Cyber monitoring and surveillance of the Internet to detect exposure of an AllClear ID Plus customer’s personal information, including monitoring of criminal web sites and data recovered by law enforcement. If his/her personal information is found, the customer will be alerted by phone and/or email and will be provided advice and support regarding protective steps to take. The customer will also receive monthly identity status reports. Debix works with an alliance of cyber-crime experts from the government, academia and industry to provide these services.
  • Priority access to licensed private investigators and identity restoration specialists. If an AllClear ID Plus customer receives an alert, or otherwise suspects that he/she may be the victim of identity theft, the customer can speak directly, on a priority basis, with an on-staff licensed private investigator, who will conduct a comprehensive inquiry. In the case of an identity theft, the customer can work with an identity restoration specialist to contact creditors and others, and take necessary steps to restore the customer’s identity.
  • A $1 million identity theft insurance policy per user to provide additional protection in the event that an AllClear ID Plus customer becomes a victim of identity theft. This insurance would provide financial relief of up to $1 million for covered identity restoration costs, legal defense expenses, and lost wages that occur within 12 months after the stolen identity event.
More information will be available on the enrollment page, a link which will be included in the email you will receive.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sony Responds To Congressional Inquiry On Data Breach

Sony executives have issued a statement to Congress in regards to the recent data breaches which compromised personal information of up to 100 million of the company's customers. Sony has now put the blame on the attacks on the group known as Anonymous, who a few weeks ago conducted a large denial of service attack on Sony's servers.

Sony was asked to testify before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. Even though Sony declined to attend the meeting the company did issue a  letter to committee chairwoman Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).  The letter was summarized on the official Playstation blog site and shown in full on the Playstation Flickr web page.

In short Sony claims  they were the victim of a "very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack" further explaining that they discovered that the intruders had planted a file on one of the Sony Online Entertainment servers named “Anonymous” with the words “We are Legion.”

In response, Anonymous released a statement Wednesday denying the allegations, but did allow that individual members may have been involved.

"Sony is incompetent," the group said. "While it could be the case that other Anons have acted by themselves AnonOps was not related to this incident and takes no responsibility."

It is still unclear exactly how the attack was orchestrated and whom is responsible. Sony is currently working with several major law enforcement organizations, including the Dept. of Homeland Security and FBI to find the prepetrators.

As we previously reported, Sony believes there is no evidence that credit card info has been lifted from the Playstation Network servers, although it has confirmed that a small number of older credit card numbers from 2007 were taken from an Sony Online Entertainment server.

The entire Sony network remains offline and has not yet brought it back up as the company claims it is taking steps to beef up security.


Related Reading

Apple Pushes iOS 4.3.3 Update, Fixes Location Tracking "Bug"

Following the discovery of a "location database" on iOS devices Apple responded stating it was nothing more than a bug and that the company would issue an update that would resolve said issue. Today the company has kept to that promise with the release of the iOS 4.3.3 update.

According to the release notes, iOS 4.3.3 reduces the size of the location database cache, stops backing the cache up to iTunes when you connect your device to a computer, and deletes the cache entirely when you turn Location Services off. There are no other notes attached to the update, though it's possible (as always) that Apple may have slipped some other bug fixes into it as well.

You can get the iOS 4.3.3 update by plugging your iOS device into your computer and hitting the "check for updates" button in iTunes.

It has not yet been confirmed whether or not this update really does what it promises to do, or if Apple just found another clever way at hiding their tracks. Rest assured that if they didn't fix the so called bug we'll, or if they did something sneaky someone out there will find out and we'll see yet more reports about it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Mac Users Beware A New Fake Anti-Virus App Is Targeting You

The threat of fake antivirus software and scareware is nothing new and have been around on Windows for several years. In the Mac world however, its a rare site seeing these finally crafted applications that look just like the real thing. The security firm Intego reported Monday that they had found just that. A new scareware scam that is targeting Mac users.

The MAC Defender application is a legitimate piece of Anti-Virus software. However scammers have launched a bogus application that looks much like the real software. Prompting the developers of the legitimate MacDefender software to put up a full page notice warning Mac users of the existence of the bogus application.

The bogus MAC Defender application named OSX/MacDefender.A looks as real as any other software. There are a number of different screens, and the grammar and spelling are correct, the buttons are attractive, and the overall look and feel of the program give it a professional look. That is where the comparison to the legit software ends. The bogus Mac Defender acts like any other form of scareware. It initially uses a secondary site with a Java-based scan script that claims to find malware on the user's system. If the victim falls for the claims and allows the download the malware starts to install a convincing-looking but bogus application called "MAC Defender", which also requests the admin password. Once installed the application will then launch itself every time the Mac is turned on.

The application will then begin popping up telling users that they have been infected with a virus and in order to clean the infection they first have to register their copy of MAC Defender; clicking on the link to do so via the program's About screen takes the users to an unsecure Website that offers a 1-year, 2-year, or lifetime license to the program for $60, $70, or $80 respectively. Registering halts the virus warnings, thus "confirming" that the program is working.

In actuality the infection remains as the bogus software is still there. In the case of many version of Windows based scareware infections the program may not just sit there dormant. Typically the software hosts a Trojan which also installs other viruses or malicious code that can be used to gain further information about the user. Its not clear if this software does that or not but potentially infected users should remove it as quickly as possible

To remove the fake MAC Defender application start by going to Activity Monitor in Applications > Utilities and disabling anything that relates to the file. Then find any references to the application in Startup Items, Launch Agents and LaunchDaemons and quit out of anything that's running. In the Applications folder, drag the MAC Defender app to the trash and run a Spotlight search to locate any MAC Defender references you may have missed, trashing whatever you find.

For more details and screenshots of the bogus application visit the Mac Security Blog from Intego.

Apple Gives The iMac A Boost

Apple has announced an update to their iMac desktops this time giving the computers a boost with Intel's second-generation quad-core processors and AMD Radeon Graphics cards. The new all-in-one devices will also features Apple's new high speed Thunderbolt interconnect technology.

“Our customers love the iMac’s aluminum enclosure, gorgeous display and all-in-one design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With next generation quad-core processors, powerful new graphics, Thunderbolt technology and a FaceTime HD camera, we've made the world’s best desktop even better.”


Pricing & Availability
The new iMac is available through the Apple Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The 21.5-inch iMac is available in two configurations: one with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 500GB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,199 (US); and one with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US).

The new 27-inch iMac is available in two models: one with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,699 (US); and one with a 3.1 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6970M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US).

Configure-to-order options include faster Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 2TB, a 256GB solid state drive, additional DDR3 memory and AppleCare Protection Plan. Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/imac.

Sony Confirms Second Major Data Breach

Just days after a major data breach at Sony's PlayStation network the company has confirmed a second major breach, this time affecting Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) users.

Late Monday Sony confirmed that the names, addresses, emails, birthdates, phone numbers and other personal information from 24.6 million PC games accounts may have been stolen from its servers as well as an "outdated database" from 2007. This database includes approximately 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes), and about 10,700 direct debit records of some customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

Sony said SOE was breached between April 16 and 17, the same time PSN and Qriocity was compromised. Sony shut down those services on April 20, but didn’t take SOE offline until May 1.

Combined with the PSN hack a total of approximately 101 Million users have been affected. Sony said it is working with the FBI and continuing its own investigation while working to restore all services. Hopefully with better security!!

Sony reminded users to be aware of scams that ask for personal or sensitive information and that U.S.-based customers can place a free fraud alert with national credit reporting agencies to protect themselves from credit card fraud. However, Equifax, one of the major credit bureaus, warned users that the alerts were not sufficient protection against identity theft.

Friday, April 29, 2011

MSI N560GTX-Ti Hawk – How fast is it?

The following is a guest post by Andy G of http://www.bravofiles.com/ which features a great collection of hardware device drivers and software.


Introduction
MSI had great success with the R6870 Hawk powered by AMB and now with the launch of the card, which is fueled with an Nvidia GTX Ti GPU; they hope to fly even higher than before. It has the makings of being the best MSI has in regards to graphic solutions ever. Containing military class II components and MSI claims it will deliver the best performance and stability. Also containing MSI Afterburner functionality and Triple Over-voltage Support, which allows for intrinsic level of tweaking and completely beefed-up power delivery?

Speed
The N560GTX-Ti Hawk has 950mhZ on its GPU, 1900khZ on its shader and an effective 4,200mhZ for its memory of 1,024MB GDDR5. MSI is extremely confidant that with the cooling systems abilities, the card will be able to have clock speed in excess of 1GHz, without any problems. It contains the revolutionary new Twin Frozr III cooling system.

Features
It features the unique technology of Propeller blade, which is exclusive to MSI, which delivers airflow of up to twenty present more as oppose to conventional fans as well as reducing GPU temperatures with 17 degrees. Also featuring the PWM design is an 8+1, which effectively doubles power for the GPU. The graphics card, combined with the Triple Over-voltage technology greatly improves the potential over-clocking of the card. Over-clockers can use the Afterburner over-clocking utility, easily monitor the condition of their cards, and thus simplify over-clocking processes. It will allow the most demanding users to monitor Memory, GPU and PLL voltages at voltage measurement points with added multi-meters. Over-clockers should really invest in this latest innovation of MSI.

The Military Class II components include Tantalum capacitors with over eight times the lifetime as opposed to solid capacitors. Thirty present more powers are gained from the SFC choke and ten-year life service is guaranteed from the solid-cap capacitors. The choice to use these components is only to further the stability of the card and to ensure the highest quality as extreme over-clocking potential. MSI has their unique P/S switches, which allows consumers to change speed of dual fans in regards to their own usage environment and preference. Different performance modes will let the GPU temperature stay low even during high loads, which will enhance performance. The silent mode of the graphics card balances the fan noise using thermal management when used for multimedia or during games. The APS helps saving power by automatically controlling usage of PWM with the enhanced design.

Conclusion
Currently it will be the fastest as well as best GTX560 Ti graphics card available in the industry and sells at $272.00. Competitors will have to really dig deep to go better on this new innovation although the only complaint against it is the fact that it is only 1GB and consumers wish they could see it at 2GB. The installation of the card is made simple with a driver download of Nvidia graphics drivers where you will find products and drivers for MSI products and then follow online instructions to install.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Amazon Offers Ten Days of Free Games

We might be a day late on this one but its better late than never right!

Amazon is running a Ten Days of Free Games offer, dishing out a freebie each day for what is now the next nine days. All the games look like they will be Windows-only, and they are from a cheap selection of titles with names you may or may not recognize. For instance yesterday’s freebie was Chicken Invaders 2, today's is Cake Mania.


Amazon has on occasion slipped in a few decent titles so you never really know whats coming next. You'll just have to keep your eye on the Game Downloads offer page each day.

Review: netTALK DUO VoIP Device And Digital Phone Service

VoIP devices offering digital phone service seem to be all the rage these days. It seems more and more people are opting to disconnect from their traditional phone services and look for cheaper alternatives. Today we get our hands on the new netTALK DUO and throw it through a few tests.

netTALK DUO2 Duo VOIP Telephone free USA and Canada Calling


Introduction

The netTALK DUO is new an up-and-coming competitor in the VoIP market. Competing against the likes of the MajicJack, with one great advantage there is no computer necessary to use the netTALK DUO. Simply plug the little box directly into a router or modem (or computer) and connect your phone or fax machine and you are up and running.

The services, or what you are paying for

The suggested retail price for the device is $69.95, including the entire first year of phone service and only $29.95 each year after. For the cost of your one year subscription you get digital phone service that includes free nationwide calls to any phone in the U.S. and Canada from anywhere in the world, as well as some pretty decent international rates. The device also offers a slew of other features such as; Free 411 Directory Assistance, Enhanced 911 Service, Three Way Calling, Call Forwarding and Call Waiting. (more details here)

More Features
  • Plug and play compatible
  • 1 x RJ-11 port (telephone), 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet port
  • Mini USB to PC or Power port
  • 3' USB to Mini A connector
  • 3' Ethernet cable
  • Color: Black/Chrome
  • Free calling to the US & Canada or DUO to DUO
  • No computer needed / No contracts / No monthly bills
  • Ultra-low cost international calling rates
  • First year of service is included. $29.95 each additional year
  • Live US-based technical support and personalized customer service
  • Free 411 directory assistance, Enhanced 911, visual voicemail, call waiting, conference calling, conference bridge, and fax friendly

Setup, is it really that easy to use

I've used several of the supposed plug and play devices and I've noticed most the time they aren't always as easy as they are suggested as being. The netTALK DUO really is just that simple. At the most you'll need to download the drivers for the computer setup option, otherwise all you do is drop by http://login.nettalk.com and follow the steps outlined.

I didn't want to be stuck leaving the device connected to my computer so I opted for the 'router setup' which allowed me to connect the device directly to one of the ports on my Linksys E4200. After dropping by the login site and setting up my info it was just a matter of plugging in a few cords and waiting for the device to automatically sync with the nettalk network.

In the matter of just a few minutes I was up and running and could make calls.

Call quality and features

With most of these devices the biggest question is "can you hear me now?" For me the voice quality seemed very good. I'd compare it to that of my AT&T cellphone service, which may or may not say alot. The option of not having it connected to a computer is great. I did some testing with it connected, mainly to try out the netTALK videophone app. I didn't actually get to make any calls but it looked like it would be fun.

They also have a NetTalk app for your Android, iPhone or Blackberry based smartphone (download here). I didn't really see the usefulness of this app, but then again I don't have a phone to try it on.

Since this is really a secondary line only setup for the review I only did a limited amount of testing. So to be honest I didn't get to test most of the other features like voice-mail and call waiting. I didn't want to give out a number that would see limited use to all my callers and all my voice-mail goes through my Ribbit Mobile account which I didn't feel like changing.

As an overall opinion this would be a great device for a small office that requires an actual in office line or someone that wants the functions of a land line without the cost. Being able to fax from the netTALK DUO is a definite plus as I do a ton of faxing. I would have liked the option of a couple extra phone ports but that's really not a big deal.

The netTALK DUO is currently available from Dell.com, Newegg and WalMart.com and sales for $69.99 with a full one year service included.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

T-Mobile Bets $1000 The Galaxy S Is Faster Than The iPhone

Apple fanboys, T-Mobile is calling you out!! The company is betting Seattle iPhone users $1000 that your Apple iPhone won't beat the T-Mobile Galaxy S smartphone on the T-Mobile 4G network.

Friday, April 29 – Sunday, May 1, 2011, bring your iPhone into one of the 10 participating T-Mobile stores to take part in a speed challenge. If your iPhone can beat the Galaxy S 4G in two out of three speed tests (download speed only), T-Mobile will give you 1,000 bucks.

If you own an Apple iPhone on either Verizon or AT&T and live in the Seattle Washington area you might want to find a participating store and see how you stack up. You can find all of the contest details and the participating T-Mobile store locations here.


The Speed Challenge Requirements
  1. Speed challenge offered 4/29/2011 through 5/1/2011; subject to change. First come, first served. Participating locations only.
  2. Limit one speed challenge per person.
  3. Participants must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the 50 U.S. states or D.C.; iPhone models used on the AT&T or Verizon Wireless network (and not over Wi-Fi) only.
  4. Participants must agree to complete a T-Mobile survey / information form.
  5. Participants must download a free speed test Application specified by T-Mobile; standard data charges apply.
  6. Speed challenge consists of three tests of the Galaxy S 4G versus the iPhone based solely on download speeds as measured by the Application; participants will be eligible to receive $1,000 if their iPhones are faster in two out of the three tests.
  7. Successful participants must provide contact information; affidavit of eligibility and a liability release may be required.
  8. $1,000 provided in form of check; allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. All applicable taxes are the sole responsibility of the recipient. If check is returned as non-deliverable or participant is not eligible, $1,000 will be forfeited and T-Mobile will have no further obligation.

Apple Responds To Location Tracking, Denies All Wrong Doing

By now we've all heard to hoopla surrounding Apples gathering and use of location information on the iPad and iPhones. Today the company finally stepped forward to answer our questions and concerns and in normal Apple fashion denied there has been any wrong doing.

Apple's Q&A document published today, gives customers the how and why Apple is collecting location data.

Lets get some history behind this

Unless you've been living under a rock you've likely read the reports that two programmers discovered a file on the iOS devices that apparently held the logged location and wi-fi information of their devices.

The key issue mainly started out as being an uproar around the fact that the file is unprotected and unencrypted and being stored on iPhones, iPads and your Mac device. Then the issue arose that Apple doesn't allow you to opt out of the tracking service and that there was no way to turn it off. All this has lead to
at least two customers that have already filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of violating computer fraud laws by secretly recording location data of iPhone and iPad users.

So why is Apple collecting my data

To put it bluntly Apple wants you to do their work for them. According to the Q&A they are using you to crowd-source a database which will then be turned into an Apple traffic service in the next couple of years. They will also likely use the information to create better iAds and other location based advertising.

Why I think this is an issue

I personally have no issues with Google, Apple or Microsoft gathering some of the information but I'm not happy with all that is collected. I don't feel that they should be accessing wi-fi data. Something Google got berated for when collecting street view info.

What I have issue with is the lack of transparency and what seems to be an "Apple can do no wrong" attitude. Not to mention I feel they are exploiting me as a user, and in Apple's case, without my consent. Google already addressed the issue, I have an opt-in clause on my phone, and Microsoft has already stated they don't currently do this. I can choose to share or not share my information and they aren't sneaking around behind my back first telling me they don't gather it, then confirming they do and telling me its really no big deal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sony Warns Of Data Breach

When the Sony PlayStation Network went down it might have had a much larger impact on users than first thought. Sure the outage was annoying for gamers but it now appears as though some user information might also have been obtained during the attack. Information which included users names, addresses, birth dates, purchase history and online ID. At this time Sony is also warning users that their credit card number and expiration date may have been obtained.

Sony's Sr. Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media Patrick Seybold, provided details of the potential breach in a blog post on the Playstation Blog.

Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, Sony is encouraging customers to remain vigilant, to review their account statements and to monitor credit reports.

U.S. residents are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Deal: Verizon HTC Thunderbolt 4G $129 With New Contract

Amazon Wireless has an extremely hot deal going on this weekend. They are offering the HTC ThunderBolt 4G Android Phone (Verizon Wireless) for $129 with a new two year contract (Existing Verizon Wireless Customers also get a discounted price of $175). This is $120 off the current selling price of the phone making this a pretty sweet deal!

HTC ThunderBolt 4G Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)


For those that haven't seen the reviews or heard the specs on the HTC THunderbolt here ya go.
  • 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655, Qualcomm MDM9600
  • Android 2.2 + HTC Sense 2.0 (sources say they are upgrading to Android 2.3 and HTC Sense 3.0 this summer)
  • 4.3” WVGA TFT capacitive touch screen
  • 8MP with autofocus, LED Flash (2x LED), 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 8GB emmc + 768 RAM Memory card, preinstalled 32 GB microSD™
  • WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR (3.0 when available)
  • GPS/AGPS
  • Battery 1400 mAh (I highly recommend adding an extended life battery)
  • Special features: Dual mics with noise cancellation, Surround sound, Compass sensor, G-Sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor, 3.5mm audio jack, MicroUSB, FM radio, LTE SIM slot , TI audio DSP

I've had my hands on this phone and its a sweet device. It offers true simultaneous data and voice on Verizon, something the iPhone 4 or any other device currently on Verizon doesn't. For users in areas that are covered by the 4G LTE network it has some incredible broadband type download speeds! The cameras are both pretty decent, I haven't seen images that were uploaded but they look good on the screen. HTC Sense is awesome and on of my favorite UIs out there.

Google Maps 5.3 Out On Android

Today's post comes courtesy of James Striker and Phones 4U. James works for an international technology company and likes to keep abreast of all the latest news in this sector, and to provide an insight for those who haven't caught the latest buzz.


Google Maps has proved to be a huge success in all of its formats. The version available on the internet is used by millions and the street view option allows you to see streets from all around the world from the comfort of your home. The mobile phone version has been no less remarkable as well though.

Available for free (download link) on Google’s smartphone operating system Android, it would not be an understatement to say that the application has been one of the Android platform’s biggest selling points. If, like me, you get easily lost, the application can tell you how to get to pretty much anywhere – with directions for cars, public transport and those of us who walk. Anyone who has used the app before knows how reliable and easy to use it is but that hasn’t stopped Google making some improvements for the new 5.3 version.

The first big change found in the new version of Google Maps is the addition of the Location History Dashboard. This is a new dashboard that allows you to view various information, such as how far you have traveled, where you have spent the most of your time and the most common routes you travel by. This probably isn’t going to be the most valuable information to you, but it is interesting to look through.

You are now also able to leave information on places you visit via Google Maps and Latitude. This means that if you visit a bar, restaurant or a shop you can leave feedback on the place for your friends or for anybody else who may be going there. Google are attempting to build up a mobile community in the same way they have with their web based features.

If you have an Android handset, such as a Nokia N8 or a Sony Ericsson Xperia play, you can now download the new version from the Android market. If you're looking for one of these handsets, then visit Phones 4U where they have all of the best mobile phone deals online.

Ten Things to Do Today for a Greener Tomorrow

Tomorrow being Earth Day we thought we'd share a great article we found via Microsoft highlighting 10 things that will help reduce consumption, energy use and are overall better for the enviroment.


1) Recycle electronics properly. United States residents can visit the Environ to learn where they can dispose of unwanted PCs and other electronics, or you can visit our Recycle Hardware page to learn about available options.

2) Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can reduce heating costs by as much as 10 percent by turning the heat down 10-15 degrees at night. Programmable thermostats make it easy to ensure the heat goes off at bedtime, yet comes back on in time for morning coffee. And they cost as little as $20.

3) Review energy settings on Windows 7. Check Power Options in the Control Panel in Windows 7 to ensure your Sleep feature is turned on and that other settings maximize your energy efficiency.

4) Look for ENERGY STAR-rated PCs: Choose an ENERGY STAR-compliant computer the next time you’re in the market for a new PC. Look for the ENERGY STAR label or visit the online product catalog to browse for an efficient PC. A new ENERGY STAR-compliant PC or laptop uses 15 to 25 percent less energy on average than a standard new computer.

5) Buy a laptop instead of a desktop PC. Some of the latest laptop PCs use as little as 20 watts of power to operate, the same amount as a CFL light bulb (see Tip 7 below).

6) Purchase a smart power strip. In the average home, as much as 75 percent of electricity consumption goes to devices the user thinks are off. To reduce these “phantom loads,” a smart power strip can detect when PCs, televisions and other electronics are not in use, and automatically power down those devices. The power strips even know to turn off printers or other peripherals if a PC is off. Around $30.

7) Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs, used in in place of comparable incandescent bulbs, save about 50 percent on lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.

8) Bike to work. Hop on a bike and pedal to work once a week. May is National Bike Month, and National Bike to Work Week (May 16-20) is a great time to learn how to bike-commute safely and efficiently.

9) Work from home. Unified communications technology like instant messaging, e-mail and telepresence can help prevent unnecessary travel. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that increasing telecommuting and virtual meetings could help save more than 3 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in a few decades, the equivalent to approximately half the current U.S. CO2 emissions.

10) Consider migrating business applications to the cloud. Research shows that, for small and medium sized businesses in particular, migrating popular business applications like Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the cloud can reduce the carbon emissions due to those applications by as much as 90 percent.

Want more ideas? Visit the Microsoft Environment website to learn what you can do.

Microsoft Offers New Portable Anti-Virus Tool

When it comes to your anti-virus software being up to date on the latest virus definitions is extremely important. Occasionally, however even the most up to date computer can be infected. So where do you turn when your AV fails you? Well you might try this new portable scanner from Microsoft (yes I know Microsoft?.)

Microsoft has released its free Microsoft Safety Scanner (MSS). The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works outside your existing antivirus software to provide a secondary option in case the first one fails.



According to Microsoft, the scanner can only be run for up to 10 days after the initial download, after which it must be re-downloaded – this ensures that it always has up-to-date signatures.The scan performance is comparable to that of Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0, which from my personal testing has been very much acceptable.

MSS comes in either 32 or 64 bit versions and because the file size is around 64 MB and the fact that MSS does not need to be installed it is ideal for downloading and running from a USB flash drive.

My testing and opinion

I've used several rescue and recovery disks such as those offered by Avira and Kaspersky as well as online scanners. So I was interested in testing the Microsoft tool to see how well it performed.

The first thing I liked about the tool was the small download size. I could install it on just about any USB drive. The interface was rather plain, simple and easy to use with options for quick scan, full scan and a custom option. Unfortunately that was about the only thing I liked.

I figured being a stand-alone application it would have a smaller resource footprint. Sadly that wasn't the case. It utilized a fair amount of CPU resources and memory. In comparison to Microsoft Security Essentials it did use slightly less resources but it still seemed high to me. The other downside was that unlike the rescue CDs there isn't an option to create a stand-alone disk to boot from. This is something that would have been a nice addition.

I didn't have any files to test it on so I can't speak to the accuracy of the tests or the ability of the scanner to detect infections.

Given the 10 day usability feature and hopefully consistent updates from MS it might be a slightly more viable option than a rescue CD, or offer a bit more usability than an online scanner. So I won't completely discard it from my toolkit, but I would like to see a stand-alone boot option.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Conspiracy Theorist Beware Your iPhone Is Tracking You

Two programmers have recently discovered that Apple may well be tracking all of its customers using the latest iPhone, iPad, or any device running iOS 4 and a those users companion Mac. The programmers found a rather interesting database stored on their iPhones. Within the files were highly detailed history of their movements, apparently logged via cellphone triangulation. The data is then stored, usually in the clear, on their Mac computer whenever the two devices synchronize.

Programmers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden discovered the files which they used to create a rather simple called iPhone Tracker, which can take the saved location data and plot it on a map. This lets you see the highly detailed path your iPhone has traced.

In his own blog post, Allan writes, "Ever since iOS 4 arrived, your device has been storing a long list of locations and time stamps. We're not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it's clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations."

"At first we weren't sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualized the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements," Warden writes. "It also became obvious that at least some other people knew about it, but it wasn't being publicized."

The data collection apparently can't be blocked, and the database itself apparently cannot be removed, though it can be encrypted via the iPhone backup process. "This database of your locations is stored on your iPhone as well as in any of the automatic backups that are made when you sync it with iTunes," Warden writes. "One thing that will help is choosing encrypted backups, since that will prevent other users or programs on your machine from viewing the data, but there will still be a copy on your device."

Google Pledges $100 million To The Startup America Partnership

It seems like yesterday when Google was a fledgling start-up of its own. The new kid on the block looking to make its mark in the world. Fast forware a few years, several billion dollars and more traffic than we can ever imagine and now Google pledges its support in "Helping America’s startups grow."

The search giant has pledge at least $100 million in Google advertising support to the Startup America Partnership—an alliance of the country's most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, foundations and other private sector leaders. Startup America participants will be able to use Google advertising platforms like AdWords and Boost and receive a $1,000 Google match for $1,000 spent between June 1, 2011 and June 1, 2012. Google's chief economist Hal Varian believes this commitment will be especially powerful as he has calculated that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords.

Google is one of many companies working with the Startup America Partnership. All told the organization claims to already have more than $400 Million in new commitments from more than 15 companies and organizations. These commitments include products, services, mentorship and funding to help scale, grow and  promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country

If you are (or know of) an entrepreneur that’s interested in getting involved with the Startup America Partnership, you can visit its Resource Center for more information.

Review: Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector with Remote

Sticking with this week's Earth Day theme we offer another review of another energy conserving gadget from Belkin.

The Belkin Conserve Switch is a power energy-saving 8-Outlet Surge Suppressor which allows you to completely cut the power to up to six electronic devices when they are not in use. By completely removing the power to 'stand-by' devices users can conserve energy and save a little extra money all while reducing emissions and your carbon footprint.



This Energy-reducing surge protector features a wireless remote control for turning off selected switchable outlets, ensuring that computer or home theater peripheral devices are not left unnecessarily on or are drawing power even in standby mode. Two "always-on" outlets provide power to devices that typically need to stay on, like modems or cable boxes. The unit also offers full surge protection ensuring that valuable electronic equipment is protected against harmful power activity.

Belkin Conserve Switch Features

  • 8 total outlets
  • Wireless remote switch works up to 60 feet away and is wall-mountable (battery included)
  • Remote-Switched Outlets let you eliminate standby power to up to 6 outlets with one click
  • 2 Always-On Outlets for devices that need continuous power, like routers
  • 4 foot cord length
  • Cable-management clip keeps cords neat
  • Sliding safety covers for added protection
  • EMI/RFI Noise Filtration
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • $100,000 Connected Equipment Warranty

The Good
  • Works great to kill power to none essential devices and saves money
  • The remote has great range its boasted at 60 ft
  • Plenty of spacing between the outlets for ac/dc converters

The Bad
  • This thing is a monster it measures 13.275" x 4.05" x 2.61"
  • Very heavy and hard to fit into tight spaces
  • The remote rocker is over sized (3.25"(L) X 1.75"(W)) and very clunky. It has a very cheap feel!
My thoughts
I've used several surge protectors units in the past most of which were smaller units. For me being able to tuck them into a corner or away from view was a big bonus. The overall size pf this unit makes it very difficult to hide from view. If that doesn't bother you then you'll probably like some of the features it has to offer. It has a very sturdy design, good spacing for lots of ac adapters and the kill switch works great.

The one really bad thing is the remote. Its rather gaudy looking and feels very cheap. The rocker mechanism isn't smooth at all so it makes a bit of a clicking sound and doesn't feel like its actually engaging. It comes with a wall mount so you can place the switch someplace close by but I'd definitely want to hide that thing out of site.

Given the $40 MSRP it would be pretty hard for me to recommend the Belkin Conserve Switch. Having a remote kill switch is nice but realistically I'm not sure I see myself even using that option.

Amazon Allows You To Checkout Kindle Books At Local Libraries

Paring an e-book reader app and a local library might sound like an odd match but that's exactly what Amazon announced today. The company plans to offer a new feature, launching later this year, that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States.

The exact details of the process and how the book usage will be monitored weren't released, but Kindle app users will be able to check out e-books from their local libraries on all Kindle models and platform apps. The Whispersync technology will then preserve digital notes and bookmarks in case the book is checked out again or purchased through Amazon.


"We're doing a little something extra here," Marine continued. "Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced."

With Kindle Library Lending, customers can take advantage of all of the unique features of Kindle and Kindle books, including:

  • Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display
  • No glare even in bright sunlight
  • Lighter than a paperback - weighs just 8.5 ounces and holds up to 3,500 books
  • Up to one month of battery life with wireless off
  • Read everywhere with free Kindle apps for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Windows Phone
  • Whispersync technology wirelessly sync your books, notes, highlights, and last page read across Kindle and free Kindle reading apps
  • Real Page Numbers - easily reference passages with page numbers that correspond to actual print editions

Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers.

It should be interesting to see how the program works and what the terms and conditions are. Given that you are 'checking out' these books I'm assuming you only have a few days to possibly a week to read it. I'm wondering how Amazon is going to control that and what mechanisms will be in place to prevent users from just 'not returning' the book (LOL).

'JetMan' To Make His US Debut Flying Through the Grand Canyon

Yves Rossy, better knows as “JetMan”, plans to done his jet-powered wing to make yet another astonishing flight. This time he is headed over here to the states where, On May 6, Rossy plans to fly through the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Rossy best known for his daredevil flights across the English Channel, Lake Geneva and over the Swiss Alps plans to bring his jet-powered wing to the Grand Canyon. There he’ll jump out of a plane then fly through the majestic canyon with jet motors strapped to his back before parachuting to safety.

According to Popular Science the exact point of Rossy’s flight has yet to be revealed, but we do know that it will take place somewhere in the Western Grand Canyon area and that during his flight Rossy will pass within 700 feet of onlookers as he negotiates his way through the canyon.

As the date approaches I'm sure more details of the event will be released. So readers may want to follow Rossy on Twitter @jetmanyvesrossy and on Facebook at Yves "JETMAN" Rossy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

DevTeam Releases Redsn0w Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 4.3.2

The guys over at the iPhone Dev-Team are always hard at work pushing out new jailbreaks for the latest version of iOS. This time their work was made a bit easier as Apple apparently didn't plug the hole used in a previous jailbreak.  So now users can jailbreak their iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPad (1st gen) without any wait.


ultrasn0w unlockers are reminded to wait for the new PwnageTool release which should be coming later this week and the dev team notes that there are a few bugs so users might want to wait for a few days so everything can be ironed out. For this of you that can't wait here are the supported devices:
  • iPhone3GS
  • iPhone4 (GSM)
  • iPod touch 3G
  • iPod touch 4G
  • iPad1

Mac OSX users can download redsn0w here, and Windows users can grab their version here.

Notice iPhone 3G users and previous generation iPods are not supported. Also, surprisingly missing, is the iPad 2. The Chronic Dev Team is working on greenpois0n RC7 which supposedly will allow jailbreaking of the iPad 2 but there is no word on a release date. Stay tuned with the greenpois0n on Facebook & Twitter to inform you when greenpois0n RC7 jailbreak released

Royal Watch, View The Royal Wedding Live On YouTube

Everyone loves royalty, even those of us here in the states. Google search trends show that it's clear that people around the world have wedding fever. So you should be pleased to know that even if you aren't on the exclusive guests list, or can't make it to the UK you'll still be able to view the royal nuptials.

The British Royal Family has announced that footage of the entire wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton will be live-streamed on their official YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/theroyalchannel.

The live stream will begin at 10:00a BST (9:00a GMT, 2:00a PT, 5:00a ET) on Friday, April 29, and will follow the wedding procession, marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey and balcony kiss. Alongside the live stream, The Royal Channel will also feature live blog commentary of the event to give timely updates and insights as the day unfolds. For those of you in different time zones, the footage will be reshown in its entirety directly following the event and will be available in full on the site to view afterwards.

Via the official YouTube Blog: The Royal Wedding live on YouTube

AMD Releases New GPUs Fills Out The Radeon HD 6000 Series Line-up

AMD has rounded out the lower end of its Radeon HD 6xxx series video card lineup with the release of three new sub $100 cards the ultra-affordable Radeon HD 6450, the Radeon HD 6570 and Radeon HD 6670 which are priced at $59, $79 and $99 respectively.

According to AMD all three cards are designed to use minimal power; the 6450 has a TDP of 27 watts (and uses only 9 watts when idle) while the 6570 has a TDP of 44 watts (and uses only 10 watts when idle) and the 6670's TDP is 66 watts (and 12 watts while idling).

The cards pack the usual set of features you'd see from a low end card which include support for Microsoft's DirectX 11 (DX11); Eyefinity, for enhanced handling of multiple monitors. Both the 6450 and 6570 can drive up to 3 simultaneous displays(4 with with DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport), the 6670 supports up to 4 simultaneous displays (6 displays supported with DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport); AMD APP, which uses the GPU to accelerate other areas of processing performance; HD3D, for playing and watching stereoscopic 3D games and other content; and AMD CrossFireX multi-GPU technology.

The Radeon HD 6450 is definitely the low end featuring a 625-750 MHz engine clock, 160 stream processors, 8 texturing units and 16 Z/Stencil ROP Units units. The card can be configured with faster GDDR5 memory, AMD is now allowing for up to 1GB of GDDR5 video buffer to be installed that can be clocked between 800MHz and 900MHz.

The Radeon HD 6570 boasts a 650MHz engine clock, 480 stream processors, 24 texture units, 32 Z/Stencil ROP Units, and either 512MB-2GB of DDR3 clocked at 900MHz or 512MB-1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1000MHz, both on a 128-bit memory bus.

The Radeon HD 6670 features many of the same specs, but comes clocked at 800MHz engine clock and includes 512MB-1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1000MHz, also on a 128-bit interface.

Reviews:


Related Articles:

Geek Gadgets: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Today's post comes courtesy of Sammy Johnson and dialaphone.co.uk. Sammy is an IT student who likes to write about any up and coming new technology. He is a huge gaming fan and specialises in writing anything related to video games on the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii.



The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is finally here and it has brought with it the latest in mobile gaming. Utilizing the massive PlayStation brand, Sony Ericsson are hoping to attract the millions of gamers who use their consoles, the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable, to their mobile phones.



To achieve this, the company has launched dozens of games with the e phone, both new and classic titles and here are some of the key titles if you were thinking of purchasing the Xperia Play.

Crash Bandicoot

Hardly anyone that has ever owned a PlayStation console has not played on one of the immensely popular Crash Bandicoot games and the original is probably the best. First released in 1996, Crash became the emblem of the PlayStation as it defeated its rivals from Nintendo and Sega in the console market. This is a port of the original game and is just as fun on a mobile phone.

Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior

As you would expect, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior is a martial arts fighting game and although it may not be as addictive as Tekken, it is great fun and once you have mastered the moves you will be as lethal as the man himself.

Star Battalion

As you would expect, this is a space themed game in which you pilot a space craft through several battle levels. Pretty simple stuff but quite fun as well so it is definitely worth a try, especially at it's low price.

Tetris

It's not as if I really need to tell you what Tetris is really do I. The game that helped the Nintendo GameBoy sell millions upon millions of Units is now on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. Tetris has influenced thousands of puzzle games on consoles and online since its release in the 1980s, but it is probably still the best of the lot.

You can find some great deals on the Sony Xperia Play at Dial A Phone. Browse their packages online today!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor

Earth Day, April 22nd, is just right around the corner and I know many of us now days are becoming more and more conscious of our conservation efforts and energy usage. I know I for one have tried to switch out most of my older devices, light-bulbs ect for more modern energy efficient ones. Not only does it help me conserve energy, which is great for the environment, but it helps me save some of that hard earned cash.

You might wonder just how much power your devices use, how many watts they pull or perhaps you want to know the overall cost in dollars or carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. Enter the new Belkin Conserve Insight a nifty little plug that adapts directly to any wall socket and immediately displays the cost of operation, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) produced in generating the electricity consumed and wattage consumption of any device plugged into it.


Energy monitors like the Kill-a-Watt have long been one of the geek worlds favorite gadgets but its a little too geeky for the home user. So Belkin has decided to add a little stylish flair to things while keeping all the functionality and features. You get all most all of the features packed into other monitors without sacrificing looks and its incredibly easy to use and understand.

Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Monitor Features

  • Large easy-to-read LCD display
    For easy readouts. Displays power-plant carbon dioxide emissions produced during electricity generation total overall cost in dollars as well as watts used
  • 3-button control
    • CO2 Button: Environmental Impact (CO2 emitted to generate power to run your device)
    • Dollar Button: Cost Impact (Dollar amount your device uses)
    • Watts Button: Energy Consumption (Watts used by your device)
  • 5-foot tethered cord
    Provides plenty of length between outlet and display unit allowing display unit to be placed on a countertop or desk away from the outlet.
  • Customizable settings
    Lets you use the preloaded U.S. average electricity rate or enter your own rate off your electric bill to track cost. You can also set the carbon dioxide emissions rate for your region.
  • Tracking function
    Tracks device usage over time and projects annual monthly & yearly operation costs.

It couldn't be easier to use and read

With some devices you either have to manually calculate the cost and emissions or find a website that can do it for you. With the Conserve Insight everything is displayed right there in big, very readable, numbers. Plug it in, plug in your device and select from one of the three buttons on the front and you are up and running. How much easier can it get.

Making adjustment for rate amount or consumption was quick and easy. Just hold down the dollar button for longer than 3 seconds, your Conserve Insight will go into “Set Rate Mode.” Once in this mode you can adjust the Energy Unit Cost per kWh to match that of your electricity bill. In the same “Set Rate Mode,” you can press the Watts button to increase your Energy Unit Cost per kWh and the CO2 button to decrease the cost. You push the CO button down for the same 3 seconds to enter the “CO2 Conversion Factor Mode” which allows you to adjust the CO2 conversion factor.

Two downsides I see from the Conserve Insight
  1.  The plug is rather bulky and blocks an additional outlet on my surge suppressor. It didn't affect my outlets but I thought it could be smaller
  2. There isn't a light or back-light so you can't read the monitor in darker settings. Not really an issue since you won't likely be getting up at night just to check it out but it would have been a good option.
For more details checkout the video linked below or checkout the Belkin Conserve Insight on Belkin.com

Save Energy through Discovery

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Linksys E1500 Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost

Cisco's recent update of their Linksys E-Series routers brought us several new choices at several different price points. On the high end was the new Linksys E4200. While this is a great router, we loved it in our reviews, most home users won't need the power or features packed into such a high end device.

Enter the new entry level Linksys E1500 Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost.


How is that new design?
Sharing many of the same design ques we saw in the E4200 the E1500 looks sleek. It features a new totally flat black color, completely flat shape, internal-antenna design and more noticeably the removal of any sign those annoying status lights. Instead, just like the E4200, it has only one light on top in the shape of the Cisco logo. This light is a solid soft white when everything is working as normal and blinks when the router boots up or something is not working correctly.

To me the new shape seems a bit odd. Where the E4200 is wider than it is long measuring 9"wide by 6" deep the E1500 is longer and sleeker measuring just under 6" wide by 7" deep. Neither of the routers take up much room and both are a far site better looking than most the competition so its not a major factor


E1500 Features and Specifications
The E1500 is your basic entry level Wireless-N router. The router doesn't have dual-band or Gigabit Ethernet. It does however offer Cisco's SpeedBoost feature, which is designed to provide extra wireless coverage. You also get the Linksys Guest Networking features. A feature that allows you to set up a separate wireless network for, you guessed it, guests. Their connection will be isolated from your main network so they will have access to the Internet but not your personal local network with shared files or devices.

Specs:

  • Technology: Wireless-N with SpeedBoost
  • Bands: 2.4 GHz
  • Standards: IEEE 802.11b/g/n
  • Security: Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), WEP, Wireless MAC Filtering
  • AntennasTransmit / receive: 2 x 3 Internal
  • Ethernet ports x speed: 4 x 10/100 (All Ethernet ports support auto-crossover (MDI/MDI-X) -- no need for crossover cables )


Step and Cisco's noted ease of use
As with all of Cisco's Linksys routers setup is a breeze. The E1500 features the standard Cisco Connect software which honestly has to be some of the easiest router software we've ever used. You also get the typical Wi-Fi Protected Setup button that initiates a 2-minute time window for hooking up your WPS-enabled wireless devices to the wireless network. The really couldn't make things and easier!

The one complaint we had about the setup is that I personally never use the software and instead opt for manually making my changes. The E1500 was persistent on insisting that I use the Cisco Connect software. For example, by skipping the software setup CD and browsing to the setup page a Web page appeared telling me to run the CD first. I thought this was a bit annoying but hardly anything that would deter me from using the router. The rest of the interface hasn't changed much and will look pretty familiar to anyone that has dealt with Cisco/Linksys routers in the past.

Performance, coverage and our conclusion
Being an entry level device doesn't mean sacrificing performance. During testing the router performed quit well. Range and throughput performance seem to be pretty much inline with what you'd expect from a router at this price point. For a standard single story 3-4 bedroom house you should expect pretty decent coverage. Anything beyond that and you might see some drop off.

The only major downsides we really found were the lack of Gigabyte Ethernet. More and more people are moving to sharing files and multimedia across more devices in their homes and those people will need the extra overhead that a Gigabyte network adds. For those homes that aren't going to be doing a lot of file transfers the router will be a nice addition.

Linksys E1500 2.4GHz Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost

Linksys E1500 2.4GHz Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost

Security: Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), WEP, Wireless MAC Filtering WPA/WPA2: WPA2 Ports: 1 x 10/100M WAN; 4 x 10/100M LAN LEDs: Power/Wi-Fi Protected Setup, Ethernet (1-4), Internet Frequency Band: 2.4GHz Antenna: Internal Antenna Interface: Ethernet Port Power Input: 12V, 0.5A







Rumor: $150 Nintendo Wii Coming May 15th?

Rumor has it Nintendo will be dropping the price of the Wii console by $50 just ahead of this year's E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

According to Engadget, a "trusted source" has indicated that the Wii will begin retailing for $150 on May 15. They do however add that they are not fully convinced that Nintendo would announce a price cut then, rather than, during the excitement of the Electronics Entertainment Expo which will take place in June. Adding reverence that Engadget's source is might be correct, GoNintendo has posted what is purportedly an internal price sheet from Kmart showing a $50 price cut for several Wii SKUs that are listed as "clearance" items.

The Nintendo Wii is currently priced at $199 on most sites (with a few sites listing deals as low as $169) a price it shares with its cheapest competition, the 4GB Xbox 360 system. The cheapest PlayStation 3, by contrast, costs $299.99. This new $149 price could help bolster sales which by many reports have been stagnant. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hackers, Modders, Geeks of All Sorts Red Bull Wants You

Hackers, modders and inventors Red Bull is making a call to arms as Red Bull presents the Red Bull Creation Contest.  Red Bull Creation is a competition about making things. The challenge for inventors, builders, modders and Hackers is to push their limits, by creating something new and inspiring, while under the pressure of short time constraints and big city lights.





Red Bull invites you to build a four person team, the goal is to build, modify or invent something based on a specific topic. Teams will be judge based on an as of now unknown criteria with the top qualifying teams will being invited to compete in this summer's Red Bull Creation competition. There your four person team will be invited to create a device based on an unspecified topic in a short 72 hr time frame.

The details:
From July 7 - 10, 2011, a soon-to-be-disclosed location in NYC will be turned into the ultimate hackerspace and serve as the laboratory for Red Bull Creation.  For 72 hours, you'll be thrown smack into the middle of a marathon of high stakes innovation.  New York will become your playground as you roam the streets of the city and the alleys of your imagination, tapping into parts of the brain you've never heard of (or strike that, you're the inventor here, you probably know way more about that than we do.)

On the final day, the event culminates in a live exhibition and show for all of New York to see. One catch: you won't know the build topic until the first tick of those 72 hours. You want a shot at the glory? You've got to qualify first at www.redbullusa.com/creation.

How to Qualify:

You must first build a four person team and submit a device built around the current current theme "Hack The Past. Create the Future." Your team has until April 24th to complete your build and upload images and video of what your entry.

Constraints:
  1. You must somehow incorporate an Arduino controller into the final creation.
  2. Final submission must be bigger than a bread box, but smaller than a box truck.
  3. Other than that, Red Bull is making the criteria intentionally broad. They invite you to take chances, and have fun.  They’re looking for a combination of technical skill, out of the box creativity, and dynamic teamwork! 

Rules:
  1. Like algebra, you need to show your work. Posting a video of your creation is a must during the online registration process that starts March 25.  It should include an introduction of your creation and how you made it. All team members must be in the final submitted video.
  2. We said it before and we'll say it again: You must be a team of four. 
  3. You must nominate a team Captain to be in charge of all team correspondence.  
  4. This competition is open to residents of the U.S. ages 18 and up.
  5. You must be ready for your 15 minutes of fame. You may be on television. We plan on sharing the brainchild of your creative genius with the world.  We hope you're okay with that.
  6. You must be willing to travel to New York this summer, whether Red Bull gives you a travel stipend or not. So be sure to pencil in July 7-10 on your calendar as "Days I take over the world."
  7. Consider repurposing material in your creation. Brainpower is stronger than spending power anyway.  And using objects that have a story behind them always adds intrigue.
  8. Only one submission per team is allowed.
  9. Your submission must be uploaded by midnight PST on April 24. 
  10. You agree to all of the legal terms and conditions at www.redbullusa.com/creation when you register.  And complete the release form.
  11. Bask in the creative process!

The top teams will be selected by a panel of judges and invited to compete in Red Bull Creation this summer. Judges will be announced soon... keep checking @RedBullCreation for possible leaks. (This might help give ideas on each judges criteria and possibly even help with topic ideas)

Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview Now Available

Many of us are still getting use to using the newly released Internet Explorer 9 but Microsoft isn't resting. The company has recently made available the Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview.

Much like the IE9 Platform Preview that was released before the browser's beta, RC, and final release builds, there isn't a whole lot going on with the IE10 preview at this point. There isn't any real UI to play with and no amenities like tabbed browsing, though you can run Microsoft's HTML5 demos, including brand new ones like Fishbowl, an update to the original FishIE tank.

There are several other tests avaialbe that show off some of the HTML5 and CSS3 features as well as speed demos showing off gpu acceleration. You can run these at www.ietestdrive.com to see emerging standards like CSS3 Multi-column Layout (link), CSS3 Grid Layout (link) and CSS3 Flexible Box Layout (link), CSS3 Gradients (link), and ES5 Strict Mode in action. MS also demonstrated additional standards support (like CSS3 Transitions (link) and CSS3 3D Transforms (link)) that will be available in subsequent platform previews of IE10, which we will update every 8-12 weeks.

For more details checkout the IEBlog -
Native HTML5: First IE10 Platform Preview Available for Download

Cisco Shutters Flip, Is Linksys Next To Go?

In a cost cutting restructuring effort Cisco Systems has announced that it is killing the company's Flip portable video camera and reducing its headcount by 550 workers. Considering the company has only owned Flip for a little over two years the announcement makes us wonder what might be next on the chopping block?

"We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy," said John Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO. "As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network's ability to deliver on those offerings."

As part of its plan, Cisco will:
  • Close down its Flip business and support current FlipShare customers and partners with a transition plan.
  • Refocus Cisco's Home Networking business for greater profitability and connection to the company's core networking infrastructure as the network expands into a video platform in the home. These industry-leading products will continue to be available through retail channels.
  • Integrate Cisco umi into the company's Business TelePresence product line and operate through an enterprise and service provider go-to-market model, consistent with existing business TelePresence efforts.
  • Assess core video technology integration of Cisco's Eos media solutions business or other market opportunities for this business.

Cisco has seen disappointing results in recent quarters leaving analysts calling on the company to do more to divest itself of disappointing consumer product lines and operations. Many analysts are suggesting that Cisco might want to look at cutting loose Scientific-Atlanta cable set-top boxes and Linksys home routers, too.

"We still want Cisco to take additional aggressive action and we wish Cisco would have exited the consumer video and home networking markets altogether," states Ittai Kidron of Oppenheimer & Co. in a report on Cisco's moves titled "And Now the Flop." "We also feel Cisco will need to restructure or exit its [Scientific-Atlanta] video systems business at some point given the unfavorable longer-term secular trends."

The buy out of Flip's parent company Pure Digital for $590 million in 2009 never really seemed to make much sense to me. Cisco is best known as a networking company and their jump into the consumer business market seemed best left at obtaining the Linksys product line. The shoot and share video camcorder market just didn't seem like a reasonable fit so it doesn't surprise me that it would be the first to go.

I've always been a big fan of the Linksys line and hope that the company doesn't decide to dump them. They've been busy updating the line with a recently introduced a line of E-Series routers so we can hope the product update mean the company is going to try to keep the brand alive.

Amazon Selling Cheap Ad Supported Kindles

If you don't mind looking at the occasional ad you can now get your hands on an Amazon Kindle for the low price of only $114 - or $25 off the original price.

On Monday Amazon introduced what it is calling a new member of the Kindle family - Kindle with Special Offers. This "new Kindle" is identical to the company's bestselling Kindle e-book reader with the exception that readers are subjected to special offers and sponsored screensavers. Kindle special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen.

"We're working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle - and it's only $114. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world."

Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Amazon.com Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of screensavers specially-designed for Kindle's high-contrast, no glare electronic ink display (for screensaver examples, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers). Examples of deals that will be delivered directly to Kindle with Special Offers devices in the initial weeks include:
  • $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
  • $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
  • $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
  • Free $100 Amazon.com Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally $30)
  • Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get $10 Amazon.com credit
  • 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally $99)
To make sure customers don't miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time. Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members--$114 Kindle with Special Offers, $139 Kindle, and $189 Kindle 3G--at www.amazon.com/kindle. Kindle with Special Offers is now available for pre-order to customers in the U.S. and will ship on May 3.