Friday, June 24, 2011

We Got Hands On The HP Touchpad And WebOS

Come July 1st HP is going to launch their culmination of HP ingenuity and Palm innovation, the HP TouchPad. It blends HP's styling with Palm's WebOS functionality, ease of use and productivity to build a tablet that may in fact challenge the iPad.

I've had the rare chance to get hands on the TouchPad and I have to say from what I've seen I'm pretty impressed. I will say I'm more impressed with WebOS than the design of the TouchPad, or at least the feel of it.

So here are my thoughts.

WebOS is the big thing
  • Just type is beyond belief, apps, email contacts whatever are right there with a few characters. You hit a few keystrokes and anything you might want to open is intuitively ready. It gives you suggestion based on what you typed.
  • Real life multitasking, you can have 1,2 3..10 apps open and they are actually live. Nothing goes to stand by everything you see on your screen is ready to go. So if I wanted to play a YouTube video, go back and send an email its all set. No waiting, no switching back and forth. Big plus this is for any apps not "some"
  • They have this really cool syncing feature that does calenders, photos and something else. Calenders is really cool, it syncs almost any services and it adds a color to each for easy distinction. So you have a business calender for GMail, personal for Yahoo! and something else. They all show up in colors. It also syncs photos from Facebook, Photobucket and a few other accounts.You get to see them all without having to actually go to the accounts.
HP Touchpad How Does It Feel?
  • Hands on it feels pretty fast. From what I've seen you can run, or have open, at least 5 apps without it slowing down
  • The screen looks top notch. It takes fingerprints like most but its bright, clear and it is Gorilla Glass so that's a plus.
  • The backing sucks! Plastic these days is a bad call. It doesn't fell bad, just not my choice.
  • Weight, that is always a big concern. Bigger screen, more weight! 10" tablets to me are two handers but even that holding it in me off hand and trying to type got tiresome.
So do I think the TouchPad will be iPad competitor? No not really. WebOS has a great deal of potential. It does so much in the way the way of integration. Its way above everything the Droid based tablets I've seen.

The down fall if any is the fragmentation for one and the overall design of the device.
  • Fragmentation: We have the Android Market (Amazon's version and others), Apple AppStore, RIM MarketPlace, MS Market and now a WebOS market?
  • Design: Personally I'm on the middle on this one. I think either go mid range 5-7" and ultralight or go bigger 10-12". You add some weight but you get some functionality. For me the screen size is ok but the weight is a bit much.

For all I've said I'm probably overly impressed with WebOS. I'd honestly buy a TouchPad just for that, it really is that good. I haven't seen a tablet that, functionality wise, performs anywhere close.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling Talks Pottermore, Harry Potter E-Books And More

Author J.K Rowling has released a new Harry Potter site called Pottermore, which when launched provided little details other than a landing page with a coming soon sign. Today the author of the ever popular Harry Potter series has released several details about the new site, the plans for the release of the Harry Potter series on e-book and more.


Rowling has described Pottermore.com as an online version of the Potter world and the stories from the books, but with a highly interactive user experience allowing you to shape certain part of the storyline. On top of that it will form the exclusive home of Harry Potter audio books and e-book versions of all the books from the series.

Rowling also teased fans with the hint that additional information will be revealed from her extensive notes through Pottermore to help felsh out the world and the characters beyond what has gone before. The free site allows visitors to become part of the stories by going through the Sorting Hat process where Rowling herself has written a "vast pool" of questions to direct users to their correct home. Users will also be able to do other things covered in the first book for example choosing wands, shop on Diagon Alley and experience life at Hogwarts. Currently the site only covers the first novel "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone," with the remaining books being added over time. The storyline of the second book will go live in early 2012.

Points can be won for houses by casting spells and mixing potions, users will be able to comment and add their own drawings and content – and Rowling herself will be dropping in "as a normal punter".

The site won’t launch until October (there is currently a sign-up page for notices), but on July 31 it will be opened up to a select few in a sort of beta phase to work out the kinks. Harry Potter fans should definitely keep an eye on Pottermore.com for more details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wal-Mart Gamecenter Lets You Play Games From Your Browser

You can now try out several games for yourself right on Wal-Mart's Gamecenter website, no downloading, no special equipment required. The games are loaded right in your browser thanks to game streaming company Gaikai.

The speed and specs of your computer is irrelevant, the game is run on Gaikai's servers and then streamed to you, much like with OnLive. The one major requirement is that your Internet connection be fast enough to handle the bandwidth load. The website automatically detects your speeds, no testing required and if it isn't up to par then the website omits any mention of being able to try the game and displays videos, screenshots, and other information instead.

According to 1Up.com Dead Space 2 is one of the titles currently available to be played on Wal-Mart's Gamecenter website. I however couldn't get any of the games to show up for free play.

According to Gaikai CEO David Perry more games are apparently on the way. "Over the next 12 months, when people see a video game on TV and want to try it out, they can be sure the fastest way will be on Wal-Mart's website," Perry said. "It's an exciting time and you'll see more sites around the world doing these stealth launches with us."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mozilla Very Quietly Releases Firefox 5.0

You might not have noticed but earlier today Mozilla released the newest version of Firefox for you to update to. Following up on their recent promises to push out rapid releases of Firefox faster than ever the company has officially released Firefox 5.0. To some surprise the company made none of the normal announcements, nor do you have any annoying pop-ups trying to tell you to install the update.

So whats new?

Good question, overall you won't see much in terms of UI changes. Its really whats under the hood that matters most. Here are the release notes that will give users all the info they might want or need.

Firefox 5.0 has the following changes:
For more information you can view the complete list of changes and if you are interested in downloading it you can get the latest released version of Firefox here or from your toolbar click help>about Firefox and it will download automatically.

You should not that even though this is a minor update some of your add-ons might not support the new version. Its not that they won't work but the authors need to update support for the new release. So you might want to hold off for a day or two, or check with the add-ons site to see yours has been updated.

How To Burn A Mac OS X Lion Install Disk

Apple has announced that for the first time will ever it will be offering it's latest OS X update as download-only via the Mac App Store. But what happens if you want to do a clean install of OS X Lion, or have a back-up disk just in-case?

Well for those of you that like the idea of clean installs or just want to Burn your own Lion DVD Richard Austin of Blog Champion has figured out the steps needed to create your own Mac OS X Lion install disk once it's available to everyone next month.

Here's the steps needed:

  1. Download Lion from the App Store.
  2. Locate the Lion installer file in your Applications folder from the Finder. Right click the icon and select "Show Package Contents."
  3. Open the Contents folder and locate the file called InstallEDG.dmg. Copy it to your desktop.
  4. Open Disk Utility (just search for it using spotlight) and click the yellow and black Burn icon. Select the InstallEDG.dmg file from your desktop and drag it to your DVD-R to burn it.

Now you may ask why I would want to do a fresh install and not the in-place upgrade. For most people a quick upgrade is great. It will preserves most of what you already have on your machine and you won't need to re-install anything. It will be the quickest easiest way to go.

For me, I like to start from scratch when I install new operating system or major update. This allows me to remove any remnants of old software, registry entries or anything else that might be hanging around. I get to experience things the way new users experience things when they start up their new Macintosh or PC for the first time.

It also forces me to think about my back-ups. If I haven't backed up recently doing a clean install will force me to do one. It will force me to update any of my apps but that too is welcomed as it then removes anything that might have been outdated.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Apple Sued Over iCloud and iBooks

Apple, who has traditionally been on the offensive when it comes to trademark claims, now finds itself playing defense as at least two companies have sued the company claiming two of their newest naming schemes are violating trademarks.

A Phoenix, Ariz.-based communications company, named iCloud Communications is seeks an injunction against Apple's use of the iCloud name, as well as an unspecified amount of monetary compensation alleging Apple has copied its name. The six-year-old company, which provides voice-over-IP and other cloud computing products and services, claims Apple was "willfully blind" and knew about its iCloud name.

ICloud's Complaint
The goods and services with which Apple intends to use the "iCloud" mark are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by iCloud Communications under the iCloud Marks since its formation in 2005. However, due to the worldwide media coverage given to and generated by Apple's announcement of its "iCloud" services and the ensuing saturation advertising campaign pursued by Apple, the media and the general public have quickly come to associate the mark "iCloud" with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications.

In a second similar complaint a New York publisher is suing Apple over its use of the term "iBooks." Publisher John Colby claims that his company purchased rights to over 1,000 books published under the "ibooks" name, beginning in 1999. The lawsuit notes that Apple holds an "iBook" trademark for computing equipment, but didn't start using the term to refer to its e-book products until 2010, several years after Colby purchased the book rights.

"Apple's use of the mark 'iBooks' to denote the electronic library that can be accessed via its iPad tablet computer and its iPhone is likely to overwhelm the good will of plaintiffs' 'ibooks' and 'ipicturebooks' marks and render them virtually worthless," says the lawsuit.

It looks like Apple's reign of using generically trademarked "I" terms might be crashing down upon then. The company is currently fighting a trademark dispute with Amazon and Microsoft who are both arguing that the company's App Store trademark is invalid because generic ideas like "tire store" can't be trademarked.

These two lawsuits might hold a little more weight as they are directly involving specific trademarks rather than a more generic term. It should be interesting to see how these cases turn out.

Related reading:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Redbox Now Renting Games for $2 Per Day

You will now have more options when you make your trip to Redbox as the company has started offering a select lineup of videogames at select kiosk locations.

For $2 plus tax, you can rent a game for one day. You will have the option of several titles for all three major systems Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. A full list can be seen at Redbox's website. Most the games are going to be new release like L.A. Noire (PS3 only), Brink, Red Faction: Armageddon, Infamous 2, and the controversial Duke Nukem Forever are all offered.

As with movies you can place a hold on titles right from Redbox's website, so there's no need to worry about visiting a kiosk only to find what you want is out of stock.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NRDC Reports Set Top Boxes Waste $2 Billion of Electricity Every Year

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has recently released a report on the energy use of commonly used set-top boxes including the DVRs installed by the cable, satellite and telephone companies that enable you to access pay-TV. According to their findings Digital video recorders (DVRs), cable and other pay-TV boxes cost American consumers and average of $3 billion a year -- $1 billion to operate when in active use and an additional $2 billion while inactive but still running at near full power.

NRDC and its consultant Ecos recently went into the field and monitored the power used by basic set-top boxes and DVRs that were connected to a wide range of service providers including Time Warner, Comcast, Dish Network, Direct TV, AT&T and Verizon. According to their research almost all the boxes tested consumed nearly as much power when powered off as it did when its powered on. Hitting the power button simply dims the clock or display leaving the units in "standby mode" which for a typical DVR, instead of consuming 30 Watts when on, the box used 29 Watts. 

When you add it all up, this means it’s costing our nation $2 billion per year in electric bills to power devices when we are NOT using them.

Here are some of the key findings from their research:
  • More than 80% of US home subscribe to some form of pay-TV.  There are more than 160 million set-top boxes installed in US homes, or roughly one box for every two Americans.
  • On a national level set-top boxes are consuming 27 billion kilowatt-watt hours per year.  That’s equivalent to the annual electricity use of the entire state of Maryland.
  • It takes the equivalent of nine coal burning power plants (500 MW) to operate these devices. 

To put set-top box energy use into perspective for the average consumer, the NRDC developed the bar chart shown below. Some of the things to note:
  • Many DVRs consume more electricity each year than the big screen TV they are connected to.
  • A household with one DVR and one basic HD set top box uses roughly 450 kwh/yr or the equivalent annual electricity use of one new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator.


What can you do you may ask? Unfortunately until newer better boxes are out there aren't many options. You can call your pay-TV service provider and request a set-top box that meets ENERGY STAR Version 4.0. That means you’ll have the most efficient box on the market. Another option would be opting to simply kill all the power to the devices when not in use. We recently reviewed the Belkin Conserve Switch which offers users a way to remotely disconnect the power to all the devices it's connected to.

Any device like a surge suppressor or the Belkin Conserve Switch are a great was to shave a few dollars off the power bill, espeically in the upcoming summer months!

Why Buy An Unlocked iPhone 4?

Unlocking iPhones to run on other networks has been big business in the past few years. Those technically proficient enough to unlock the prized phones have made a bunch of money not just selling the unlocked phones here in the states but also exporting them to other countries that have networks that will run them.

Apple has finally begun selling an unlocked version of the GSM iPhone 4 here in the US but those phone pack a hefty premium. The unlocked 16GB iPhone 4 is now available directly from Apple for $649, with the 32GB model going for $749. Sorry Verizon customers there is currently no option to buy an unlocked iPhone 4.

So the question is why would you want to buy one?

For years people were unlocking the AT&T phone and taking them to T-Mobile for a much cheaper alternative. Now with T-Mobile's service slowing, and the company blocking many of the options that made them cheaper it might not make as much sense as it did before. Then there is of course the take-over that is looming.

At this point paying a ton of money just for having your phone unlocked just doesn't seem as beneficial as it once was. There are some instance where it will make sense but for the most part it won't. For those wondering the main benefits would be:

  1. If you use your phone a lot for travel you still have the benefit of using your iPhone outside the US —GSM is essentially the rest of the world's standard when it comes to cell phones. So travelers will be able to use the device on other GSM networks anywhere else in the world. You'll need to pick up a micro-SIM card for whatever carrier you want but that's not all that hard.
  2. You can say good by to AT&T. You are paying full price for an unlocked version of the phone which means that you can upgrade without committing to a new contract with AT&T. 
  3. You still have the option of using T-Mobile. Even though their service isn't optimized to run the iPhone and in many cases it slower than AT&T you will still have the option and can probably save yourself enough money that it might work out in the long run.

So why is apple selling unlocked iPhones in the U.S.?

I've had a few people ask me this, and seen the question raised more than a few times so I thought I'd touch in on this one.

Apple does nothing without a reason, so the company has to have a reason here, although it's not saying what it is we can speculate to a few reasons.
  1. They want the iPhone to stay relevant until the new iPhone 5 comes out.
  2. They have too many in-stock and need to move them
  3. The have nothing to loose, AT&T no longer has exclusivity and they are looking at buying T-Mobile so why not give everyone a taste of the Kool-aid
  4. People can buy an iPhone 4 now without re-newing their AT&T contracts, which means they can then buy the new iPhone 5 later at a subsidized price.
  5. The export market: Because of exchange rates and taxes, Apple products are less expensive in the U.S. than in some other countries. An unlocked, 16GB iPhone 4 is £512 in the U.K.—that's $839 in U.S. dollars. Compared to that, $649 is a bargain. We could see an influx of Apple products being pushed out of the states for a decent profit!
Even though these phones are technically unlocked, they still only work on two US carriers so to be honest I think its has to be a marketing play. As I said Apple doesn't "just do" something without having a very good reason behind it. What it is we might not ever know!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Steam Now Offering Free To Play Games

Steam may best be known for pay to play downloadable games, however that might be changing. Starting today Steam is now now hosting to free-to-play (F2P) games with the addition of five new titles which will be available immediately. The launch titles are Spiral Knights, Forsaken World, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valliant Arms (AVA).

"The introduction of Free to Play games is another example of the constant evolution of Steam," said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve. "Free to Play games offer new game genres and game experiences for customers, while offering developers and publishers new revenue opportunities and the ability to reach customers in areas of the world where the traditional packaged goods model is less popular than F2P."

For those that aren't sure what FTP means, its basically just what it sounds like. Free-to-Play games are available to download from Steam for free and can be played without a subscription or a credit card. You will have the option to use your Steam wallet to purchase items and content in-game to customize your gameplay but you won't be required to.

To help promote the launch Valve said that, beginning Wednesday and concluding on Sunday, each of the five launch titles will offer exclusive in-game content to those who try the "F2P game of the day" on Steam. The specific details on the "F2P games of the day" and their exclusive in-game content will be made available during their launch date.

For those of you wanting to checkout the F2P games you'll need to download the latest version of Steam. For details on the games you can visit one of the links below and you can click here to read the Free-to-Play FAQ.

Skype Teams With Comcast For HD Video Calling On Your TV

Comcast and Skype today announced that the two companies have entered into a partnership that will allow Comcast customers to utilize Sype's HD video calling on their televisions. The new service would allow any Comcast customer to dial up their friends' Skype accounts and chat with them live while watching a TV show whether their friends and family use Skype on their home TVs, PCs, compatible smartphones or tablets.

In a joint press release the two companies outlined their plans for the new program. Announcing that beginning this month they would be rolling out customer trials. Details are pretty sparse at the moment with further product details expected to be made available later this year.

Here are a few features customers can expect:
  • Make and receive Skype video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a television while watching their favorite TV show at the same time, and accept incoming calls during a TV show with the help of Caller ID.
  • Make and receive video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a compatible mobile phone or tablet.
  • Import friends to their address book from their Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and smartphone contact lists, find them on Skype and see when contacts are online and available to talk.

"Our unique relationship with Skype not only will change how our customers interact with their TV, but also will create new and meaningful ways to bring our customers closer to the people they care about," said Neil Smit, President, Comcast Cable. "TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more, and brings friends and family together through the biggest screen in their homes."

Tony Bates, CEO, Skype, said, "We are pleased to announce this partnership with Comcast. By combining Comcast's broad living room reach with Skype's innovative communications platform and worldwide community of users, we can bring video calling into the heart of the home allowing people to share life's experiences both big and small."

This service will be delivered on the Comcast customer's HDTV through an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera, and a specially designed remote control that enables customers to text on Skype as well as control their television. The other calling party does not need any special equipment beyond what is needed to use Skype.

Comcast customers will also be able to access mobile features through Comcast's Xfinity Mobile app, and continue to enjoy conversations by switching from one compatible device (e.g., smartphone, tablet or television) to another.

Angy Birds Add-ons And Cheats Infected With Malware

Google has confirmed that it has suspended a number of suspicious applications from the Android Market after researchers discovered a new stealthy piece of spyware, dubbed "Plankton."

According to reports the malware has been found to infect as many as ten add-ons or cheats for the popular arcade game Angry Birds. The discovery was first announced on June 5 by computer science professor Xuxian Jiang and his team located in North Carolina State University.

“Plankton is the first one that we are aware of that exploits Dalvik-class loading capability to stay stealthy and dynamically extend its own functionality,” Jiang wrote. “Our investigation indicates that there are at least 10 infected Android apps in the official Android Market from three different developers. Its stealthy design also explains why some earlier variants have been there for more than two months without being detected by current mobile anti-virus software.”

A Google spokesman confirmed yesterday that the company has already taken action to remove the malicious applications.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

3 Great Gift Ideas For Geeky Dads

The following is a guest post by Maria Rainier a freelance writer and blog junkie. In her spare time Maria enjoys yoga, playing piano and working with origami.


Father’s day is right around the corner and whether it’s for your husband or your father many of us are still scrambling for the perfect gift. Here are three great father’s day gift ideas for those Geeky dads.


1. Apple iPad2


Apple’s iPad 2 is still the gold standard when it comes to the tablet market. Apple has managed to engineer one of the thinnest and lightest pieces of hardware while still giving it the power to handle HD video and web browsing with ease. This coupled with the iTunes app store and it’s virtually infinite number of apps with new ones being added each day and it’s a hard package to pass up. It’s not without its issues, a lack of flash video content for example and its IOS being geared more towards consumption than work. Still, at a starting price of only $499 for the 16gb wifi only option it’s a great gift that’s pretty adorable.


2. Personalized T-Shirt From Sites Like Custom Ink

One great fathers day gift idea is to use the create a T-shirt tool at sites like Customink.com to create a one of a kind T-shirt. Choose one of his favorite quotes or maybe a phrase from their favorite video game, then just choose the font and how large to make the letters. The prices may vary slightly depending on the size and material of the shirt. No individual shirt costs more than 30 dollars and every order ships free.


3. Samsung Droid Charge


The Droid Charge is an Android powered smartphone created by Samsung exclusively for Verizon Wireless. It features a 1ghz single-core Humming bird processor and 512 mbs of RAM. The Droid Charge sports an absolutely stunning 4.3 inch super AMOLED plus display, which is the most advanced display available on any smartphone. It also features an 8 mega-pixel camera that’s capable of shooting HD video. Its ability to take advantage of Verizon’s stunningly fast 4G LTE network coupled with the power of Android make this one a no brainer. The Droid Charge us available directly from Verizon for $299.

HP Confirms TouchPad Release Date And Pricing

HP has confirmed a July 1st release date for the company's first webOS based tablet the HP TouchPad.


Starting July 1st the HP TouchPad will be available from U.S. retailers, commercial resellers and direct from HP with the option of either 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage for $499.99 and $599.99, respectively. Preorders in North America and Europe will begin June 19.

HP also said today that it will be partnering with AT&T to introduce a connected version of HP TouchPad later this summer. No details yet, but stay tuned.

U.S. retailers and commercial resellers for HP TouchPad will include Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club, OfficeMax, Amazon.com, Fry’s, Microcenter, other leading local and regional retailers, and HP’s online stores. Specific pricing and availability for HP TouchPad in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom will be announced regionally. Details for Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain will be announced at a later date.

More information about HP TouchPad, including product features and specs, is available at www.hpwebos.com/us/products/pads/touchpad.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Major Data Breach At Citigroup User Account Data Has Leaked

According to reports from Reuters and the Financial Times there has been a major data breach at Citi Account Online, giving hackers access to all the sensitive data of hundreds of thousands of bank card customers.

The bank recently discovered unauthorized access at Citi Account Online through routine monitoring, a spokesperson told Reuters in an email. The information accessed includes the name of the customers, account numbers and contact information including email addresses. The bank said about 1 percent of its card customers were affected by the breach.

"We are contacting customers whose information was impacted. Citi has implemented enhanced procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of event," the spokesperson said.

One decent revelation to come from Citi about the breach was that although account numbers may have been accessed other vital information such as birth dates, social security numbers, card expiration date and the card security codes (CVV) apparently weren't part of the breach.

Despite that information Citi cardholders should be on the look out for any fraudulent activity and they should beware of any possible phishing attempts that might look to gain access to anything further!

Corsair Recalls Force Series 3 SSDs

Popular PC hardware manufacture Corsair has issued a recall for the company's 120GB Force Series 3 Solid State Drives with product code CSSD-F120GB3-BK. The company is citing an issue that affects "a significant percentage" of these particular drives, and only the drives with the aforementioned product code.

In a forum posting Corsair said it analyzed issues associated with the stability of the recently released drive and wants users to stop using them immediately, even if their drives are not showing signs of an issue. To return your Force Series 3 120GB SSD to Corsair, contact Corsair to ARRANGE YOUR REPLACEMENT . Corsair will pay for shipping your drive back to them and will replace your drive free of charge. Estimated turnaround time is ten business days.

If you are returning your drive I highly suggest backing up any data, and I'd honestly consider formatting the drive, just to keep personal information out of anyone else's hands.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

How To Disable Facebooks Photo Recognition

Facebook has automatically implemented a new feature some users that uses facial recognition software to "help" your Facebook friends tag you in their photos. If you have this option enabled, any time one of your friends uploads a photo, Facebook will "suggest" you as a match based on the recommendations of the software.

While Facebook will only add you as a suggestion to your friends and will not recommend you as a match to someone not on your friends list, some people might find this new feature a bit intrusive and even a bit annoying. I know I for one would rather have the option to "approve" tags in some of my friends photos but sadly, Facebook won't give us an option to disable this. We are just stuck manually un-tagging ourselves from any unflattering photos.

They have however, given us a choice to enabled or disabled the facial recognition feature. Just note its enabled by default, why they did that and not opt-in only is beyond this blogger but hey at least they give you an opt out option.

If you want to opt-out of this feature, then follow the steps below:
  1. Access your privacy settings by clicking 'Account' in the top right corner of your Facebook page then from the drop down click 'Privacy Settings' (or click this direct link)
  2. Now click 'Customize settings' located below the setting tables in the center of the page.
  3. Scroll down until you see "Things others share" and look for "Suggest photos of me to friends."
  4. Now all you have to do is click 'Edit Settings' and disable the feature.
Unfortunately this won't turn off the suggestion feature for your own account it will just remove you from being suggested to others.

Tom's Hardware Wants To Back You On Manufacturer Issues And Returns

What geek hasn't had an issue dealing with an RMA? Or perhaps a support issue like needing updated drivers. Well Tom's Hardware is launching a new program geared towards backing their readers and hopefully helping you to resolve some of your issues.

Tom’s Hardware is introducing, Tom's Advocate, a new feature that lets you write in about your situation (hopefully with all of the relevant warranty information, photos, and contact information), and the company will contact one of the many manufacturing reps that have in their contact list on your behalf.

Tom's won't promise a response to every single email that comes in, nor will they guarantee a favorable resolution. But this could be a great way to get your voice heard and get a vendors attention after-all most companies want to do right by their customers and avoid any bad press along the way.

So if you have a grievance you think they can help with drop an email with as much info as you can provide to advocate[at]bestofmedia.com. The information you need are make and model numbers, retailer information, warranty details, and any other specifics you can provide. You might also want to include any background information you can give. And don't forget to give them all your contact info.

Tom's Advocate: Got A Manufacturer Grievance?

What Is iCloud And How Will You Use It?

Apple had a busy day yesterday with CEO Steve Jobs taking the stage at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference to introduce, iOS 5, the company's latest version of their mobile operating system found on the iPad, iPhone and iPods. Amongst several of the new features, which we'll cover later, was the much anticipated announcement of iCloud.Or as I see it Apple's go anywhere cloud based storage service.

What is iCloud?

To break it down to its simplest terms iCloud is Apple's new free cloud based service that works to allow you to seamlessly sync information from several different Apple based applications to almost any device connected to your iCloud account. You simply store your content in iCloud and it will automatically push the information and updates out to all your devices. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are updated almost instantly.

iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. Sp basically you get 5GB of free online document storage, I'm sure Apple will not let you store none-paid music, videos or anything that might be perceived as being a copyright concern.

How will you use iCloud?

For as much hype as it has receive iCloud is really not what the name implies. Its not some revolutionary new service that allows you to upload a ton of content to the cloud. Its not some ground breaking cloud computing project. Its really just a syncing feature much like Windows Live Mesh 2011 or an online storage system like Windows SkyDrive, DropBox or anything else.

What it does do is allow you to sync things like your contacts, calendar and mail across all your connected devices. If you update a contact on your iPad the same changes will take affect on your iPhone and vice versa. It also lets you share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com.

The biggest advantage iCloud adds is it make it easy to buy and sync music from iTunes, apps from the App Store and books from iBookstore. Once you make a purchase on say your iPhone it will automatically be delivered to your iPad or iPod. Meaning no extra downloads. Much like Amazon's new Cloud Player and Google's Music services it also adds music streaming via iTunes. Content can be saved on the iCloud servers and streamed to any device. No need to fill up your hard drive on your iPad or iPhone anymore.

iCloud will be available this fall concurrent with iOS 5. For more information see Apple's press release.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sony's PlayStation Welcome Back Program Now Online

Good to it's word Sony has launched the Sony Welcome Back program today offering all those affected by the recent hacking and subsequent outages free games and other perks. PSN users will have until July 3 to take advantage of the program so you better hurry up and get in on the offer while the getting is good! Side note to that Sony has warned that due to high traffic volumes users are experiencing issues so you might want to wait until after the weekend.

What’s in the Welcome Back Program?

To start, all PSN members who had signed up before the outage (April 20, 2011) will be able to select two games for the PS3 system and two games for the PSP system.
For PS3 owners, go to the ‘Welcome Back’ section in the PlayStation Store, and select 2 titles from the following list:
  • Dead Nation
  • inFAMOUS
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Super Stardust HD
  • Wipeout HD + Fury
For PSP owners, go to the ‘Welcome Back’ section of PlayStation Store on your PSP system and select 2 titles from the following list:
  • LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
  • ModNation Racers
  • Pursuit Force
  • Killzone Liberation
Select your first game from “Game 1”, then return to the Welcome Back page and go to “Game 2” to select your second game out of the remaining choices available. This goes for both PS3 and PSP.

All users can also take advantage of a free month of PlayStation Plus service. This premium offering comes with exclusive games, demos, and discounts on purchased content. Sony is also providing some free streaming movie rentals this weekend where video services are available.

Hit the PlayStation Blog at the link above to check out the full FAQ with such gems as “When does the 30 days of my PlayStation Plus access expire?” Hint: in 30 days.

Will Online Gambling Survive?

For as long as I can remember there have been online casinos. Some were always on the up and up, some were quite shady. But they were always there. Online poker really didn't take off until the World Series Off Poker and a nice guy names Chris Moneymaker.

Being the geek I am, and loving the action poker (and cards in general) give me I enjoy hitting a few of the free online casinos here and there. I was never a big pay-to-play kind of guy but I liked the free money rolls.

Now days it doesn't have the cache it use to but I still play a few of the online poker sites. But I don't think anything will get my geek blood flowing like the late night trying to hit an open spot on the tournaments like PokerRoom and FulTilt have/had.

These days the government is looking to close down all online gambling sites real time gaming casinos and webmoney casinos. Just a few short months ago the founders of Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were among 11 people charged with offenses including bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.

So you have to ask will there be a place for online gaming in the future?

I'm not sure anyone can say for certain, however there are several state looking to legalize online gambling. Will it actually happen? Who knows! It might end up being an issue like legal marijuana. Whereas some states have it, outside of federal law, and some don't.

I for one hope they let it happen. I like to get my card-geek fix on once in awhile even if I do lose more often than I win!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

More Bad News For Sony As Sony Pictures Hacked

It seems like poor Sony just can't catch a break these days. No sooner do they get the PlayStation Network fully restored and reports surface that another branch of Sony Entertainment has been hacked.

LulzSec, the hacking group that recently made its way into the news for hacking into PBS, claimed today that they have broken into several Sony Pictures websites and accessed unencrypted personal information on over 1 million people. The group has publicly posted a full list of compromised sites, along with links to documents containing samples of what it claimed was material stolen from Sony.

LulzSec released this statement earlier today

We recently broke into SonyPictures.com and compromised over 1,000,000 users' personal information, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth, and all Sony opt-in data associated with their accounts. Among other things, we also compromised all admin details of Sony Pictures (including passwords) along with 75,000 "music codes" and 3.5 million "music coupons".

Due to a lack of resource on our part (The Lulz Boat needs additional funding!)we were unable to fully copy all of this information, however we have samples for you in our files to prove its authenticity. In theory we could have taken every last bit of information, but it would have taken several more weeks.

Our goal here is not to come across as master hackers, hence what we're about to reveal: SonyPictures.com was owned by a very simple SQL injection, one of the most primitive and common vulnerabilities, as we should all know by now. From a single injection, we accessed EVERYTHING. Why do you put such faith in a company that allows itself to become open to these simple attacks?

What's worse is that every bit of data we took wasn't encrypted. Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext, which means it's just a matter of taking it. This is disgraceful and insecure: they were asking for it.

This is an embarrassment to Sony; the SQLi link is provided in our file contents, and we invite anyone with the balls to check for themselves that what we say is true. You may even want to plunder those 3.5 million coupons while you can.

This latest hacking at Sony Pictures is just the latest in a seemingly endless series of intrusions at Sony, which began with massive breaches in April that compromised account information on 77 million users of Sony’s PlayStation Network, and another 25 million at Sony Online Entertainment.

Hopefully Sony will move to step up security around all of the company's online properties to prevent any more hemorrhaging!!

Related Articles:

Get 50% Off Motorola Hands Free Devices

To help foster awareness of National Safe Driving Month Motorola has teamed with several local law enforcement agencies to reward responsible drivers that pledge to be “Responsible on the Road” by using hands-free technology if they need to communicate while driving. In honor of the program Motorola Mobility, Inc. will reward drivers a coupon good for up to 50% off select Motorola hands-free devices. All you have to do is visit Facebook.com/Motorola during the month of June and pledge to be “Responsible on the Road”.

They have the promotion on their front page at the Motorola Store so if you don't want to "register" through Facebook simply find a hands free device you like and enter the promo code HNDSFREE at checkout

To further underscore the importance of responsible driving and reinforce local or state laws that restrict or ban the use of hand-held devices while driving, select cities will conduct Motorola Responsibility on the Road events throughout the month of June. The events are aimed at educating drivers on hands-free laws and reward those who pledge to drive responsibly with a hands-free device.

Those interested in the program or offer you can visit Motorola.com/motospeak for more details.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Microsoft Offers First Official Look at Windows 8

Today in a demonstration at the D9 conference a Microsoft executive showed off the new Windows 8 interface for tablet based PC's and desktops. The new UI appears to be based on the metro tiled design found in the in the Zune and Windows Phone 7 software.


According to the Microsoft press release that followed the live demo even though the new UI looks like its geared mainly toward touch PCs. The new Windows OS will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays.

In a video demo that accompanied the press release, Jensen Harris, director of program management for the Windows User Experience team, walked through the user interface, including live tiles, app "snapping," and classic software compatibility. The whole thing looks pretty slick:


Here is Microsoft's official list of new features shown off today:
  • Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
  • Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
  • Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
  • Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.
  • Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.
  • Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10

While I'll say the whole thing looks pretty slick right now I'm not sure I really care for it. I don't like these dumbed down OSs that we are seeing. I like the power user feel that allows me to have more control over my system. I also prefer a cleaner no icon look rather than a cluttered work space with widgets and icons all over the place.

At this time there's is no published launch date. However, Microsoft does plan to show off more at a mid-September developers' conference, BUILD  on Sept. 13 - 16 in Anaheim, Calif.

Everyone Is Getting In On The 'Button' Game

We've seen them all around the web. Facebook has its Like button, StumbleUpon has their stumble button and Twitter has a retweet button. This week however we were introduced to two new buttons with reports of a third major site releasing one of their own.

The first of the new button army comes courtesy of Twitter which revealed a new Follow Button. The new Twitter Follow Button allows visitors to instantly follow Twitter accounts directly from any website. It gives readers one click access to a pop out which features a snapshot of the button users Twitter profile and Tweets. Giving your viewers easy access to follow your Twitter account.

The second button in this button onslaught that we'll see populating web pages soon is the new Google +1 button. Google started rolling out the +1 button in March via their search results. On many Google search page you'll see a small +1 symbol next to your results allow you to recommend content to your friends and contacts directly from the Google search results and ads. This week Google announced plans to allow webmasters to add a Google +1 button to any site on the web. Making it quicker and easier for you to share those sites with your Google social circle.

Not to be left behind is LinkedIn who is reportedly set to launch a button for employers’ websites called “Apply With LinkedIn”. Unlike the others that promote sharing this new button allows job candidates easy access to LinkedIn to submit their LinkedIn profiles as resumes.

The new button, which will be displayed alongside job descriptions on partner sites, features a pop-up box with a prompt to sign into LinkedIn. The user is then given the option to edit parts of his or her LinkedIn profile and contact information. There is also an option for employers to add a few quick questions for potential employees to answer. Once the user finalizes the application by clicking a “Submit Application” button the box then displays an application confirmation, and displays either additional job openings at that company or a list of the user’s LinkedIn contacts who are affiliated with the company to which he or she has just applied.

The new Twitter and Google buttons are currently out in the wild and can already be found on several major sites. There is no word on when the "Apply With LinkedIn" might go live but I'm sure we'll see it soon.

Apple Releases Malware Scanner, Fails To Catch Newest Variants

The MacDefender malware has made big news of late forcing Apple to release an update to Mac OSX that was supposed to provide a malware detection system that would eradicate the infect. Unfortunately the group behind the infection are very sophisticated and appear to be one step ahead of Apple.

"Apple's [antivirus] did not detect the new sample," said Peter James, a spokesman for Intego, the French security firm that originally reported the malicious software. Intego confirmed what ZDNet blogger Ed Bott reported earlier today, that the scammers had created a new version that wasn't detected by Apple's new defenses.

According to James, the new malware file is identified as "mdinstall.pkg" and if installed, plants the phony MacGuard software on the victim's Mac. Like the previous Mac Defender/Mac Guard malware attack this one is capable of installing itself without the need for the user to input their password.

On Tuesday, Apple released an update for Mac OS X 10.6, that warns users that they've downloaded fake Mac security software and scrubs machines already infected with the previous versions of the scareware.

It comes as little surprise to anyone that the team behind the Mac Defender/Mac Guard malware has made this move. It might be a bit shocking that they were able to act so quickly to counter Apple's move but that just goes to show that they are well organized and have found a niche that is making them money.

Zinio Launches Android App

Zinio's reader app is now available on select Android 2.2, 2.3, and all 3.0 tablets, giving magazine readers the option of picking up one of the more than 20,000 titles that the Android App currently offers.

At launch, more than 20,000 magazines will be available through Zinio on Android devices including Motorola Xoom, LG Optimus Pad, Acer Iconia Tab a500, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and more. All Android users who download Zinio before June 15 will automatically be given – for free – 24 of the latest issues of top magazines across all major genres, including Cosmopolitan, ESPN The Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Men's Fitness, O, The Oprah Magazine and Us Weekly.

Keep up on what's going on around the world in technology, science, news, culture, design, fashion, travel and business, and rediscover top selling titles like National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, and thousands of others. Whatever you like to read, Zinio has something you'll love.

Most Popular:
  • Business and News — Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, HBR
  • For Men — Maxim, Esquire, Car & Driver, Men’s Fitness, Outside
  • Fashion — Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Nylon, Harper’s Bazaar, BlackBook
  • Home / Lifestyle — Saveur, O: The Oprah Magazine, Dwell, Wine Enthusiast
  • Tech — T3, Macworld, PC World, PC Gamer, X-Box World, Layers
  • Science — National Geographic, The Smithsonian, New Scientist, Science
  • International — Vogue France, Esquire UK, Hola Mexico, GQ Japan
  • New Arrivals — Harper's, Computer Arts, Business Traveler, Guitar Player, Edge, Consumer Reports

Features:
  • Read full-color pages or text mode for simple reading.
  • Purchase full subscriptions for the best value, or buy single issues and find your new favorites.
  • Sync your entire library easily with your computer and other supported mobile devices.
  • Read with interactive features, rich media, and digital-only content in select magazines
  • Magazines worldwide, published Canada, UK, Australia, Spain, France, Italy, Russia, Japan and more.

Android Device Availability:
  • Android 3.0 Honeycomb Devices supported: Motorola Xoom, LG Optimus Pad, Acer Iconia Tab a500, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • Android Preload Devices (Android 2.2, 2.3, 3.0): Samsung Galaxy Tab, Samsung Galaxy S II, Dell Streak, Motorola Atrix, T-Mobile G2x, T-Mobile G-Slate

    You can get the Zinio Reader App from the Android Market or get more info directly from Zinio

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    HP Recalls More Than 160k Laptop Batteries

    HP has issued a recall on as many as 162,000 laptop batteries from models sold as far back as 2007. The newly listed models included the HP Compaq 6520s and a battery in the HP Pavilion which were reportedly sold between July 2007 and July 2008.

    This latest recall is a continuation of a previous recall which originally affected more than 200k batteries. The previous recall was announced back in May 2010 and affected more than 21 different HP/Compaq models.


    HP customers affected by this program will be eligible to receive a replacement battery pack for each verified, recalled battery pack at no cost. Both the HP website and the USCPSC provided a complete list of all of the affected units. The USCPSC advised affected consumers to immediately remove the battery and contact HP. It also advised that consumers who were previously not included in previous recalls should check again.

    For additional information, visit the HP Battery Replacement Program Web site at http://www.hp.com/support/BatteryReplacement or call (800) 889-2031 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

    Google Offers Being Launched In Portland, Oregon

    Today, Google announced that the company will be launching a beta version of their Groupon competitor Google Offers in Portland, Ore. tomorrow.

    At the D9 Conference in Palos Verdes, California, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Stephanie Tilenius, Google’s VP of commerce, demonstrated the company’s new product. The new service is very similar to that of, Bing deals, Groupon or LivingSocail in that it provides users a daily deal from what is said to be “thousands of merchant partners.” For their initial demonstration Google showed off a deal for $10 worth of Floyd’s coffee for $3.

    The big selling point for Google Offers is that it integrates seamlessly with Google Wallet, the company’s NFC-based payment system. Instead of printing out a coupon or barcode, completed offers are saved to a user’s Google Wallet, where they are automatically saved and redeemable. Eventually they will be utilized automatically through NFC.

    Google Offers will be available tomorrow in Portland and eventually roll out to New York, San Francisco and other cities during the summer. You can learn more about Google Offers and sign up at google.com/offers.

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    7 Practical Gifts for College Grads

    The following post comes courtesy of consumer Savings Expert, Andrea Woroch. Andrea has been featured as a media expert source on NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. To view recent interviews or find more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com.


    Sure, an all-expense-paid trip to Europe seems like the ultimate graduation gift. However, college students who face thousands of dollars in academic debt may need to jump on the job hunt sooner than expected. With new financial responsibilities looming, recent grads will appreciate whatever help they can get.

    To help soften the real world blow, here are seven practical gifts job-seeking college graduates will appreciate.

    Resume Service
    The first thing employers see is an applicant's resume and cover letter. Unfortunately, the style of these documents has become more complex in recent years. Graduates won't get noticed using the old method of simply listing experience by date. Cover letters are now approaching works of art, mentioning much more than that applicant is interested in the job and is a good team player, trustworthy and a hard worker.
    A resume service will create updated documents so subsequent resumes and cover letters live up to modern standards. Costs run roughly $100 to $200, depending on the services you desire. It's worth paying extra to have an expert explain the latest tricks and how graduates can alter these documents for each job. Sites like ResumeMyCareer can help you compile a professional and competitive resume at an affordable cost.

    Home Furnishings
    After living with cinder-block bookshelves and saggy mattresses for four years or, worse yet, being surrounded by their childhood furniture while living at home, graduates might appreciate an upgrade on everything from a couch to kitchen implements especially those moving into a new apartment to be closer to their new 9 to 5 job. You might also put together a basket of upscale bed and bath products so the grad can finally dump their dollar-store shampoo and soap.

    Gift Cards
    The 2011 crop of college graduates faces more debt than any other generation, so money is always a welcome gift especially to help them get through that first, unstable post-school year. Grads not comfortable with the idea of asking directly for money can create a gift card registry at CardAvenue.com to receive gift cards from hundreds of merchants in a variety of categories from apparel to food, gas and much more.

    Job Interview Clothing
    Suits can be overkill in some places, unless the graduate lives in a big city or is looking for a management position. Most employers will expect something a bit more casual these days. Men should have a dress shirt, pants and shoes with a matching tie and, perhaps, a sports coat. Women will need a demure outfit of skirt and blouse or dress with basic pumps. A coordinated jacket would nicely complete the outfit.

    Foreign Language Lessons
    College graduates face a tough job market and with high unemployment rates, that means more experienced competition. Given any opportunity to improve his or her skill set, grads can make themselves more marketable to potential employers depending on the position. Consider gifting Spanish lessons (Rosetta Stone) is an effective and affordable option) or perhaps a GMAT review course for help towards MBA school admissions.

    Briefcase
    Backpacks and messenger bags are great for toting books and water bottles, but grads will have a better chance of securing a job when they show up looking sophisticated. A soft-sided briefcase with room for a laptop, resume binder and lunch will give any job seeker a more professional appearance.

    Smartphone
    With instant email access & GPS navigation, a smartphone will keep recent grads connected with potential employers & recruiters so they never miss an interview opportunity or an offer. Not to mention, the various apps that offer banking on-the-go, cheap dinner recipes and location-based drink specials to help make their lives a little easier.