Saturday, July 16, 2011

Apple iOS 4.3.4 Update Fixes PDF Flaw Blocks JailBreakMe

On Friday Apple released the newest version of iOS which promises a fix to an iOS PDF vulnerability that has recently been used by jailbreakers as an easy backdoor to gain full access to their devices.

The iOS 4.3.4 update "fixes [a] security vulnerability associated with viewing malicious PDF files," Apple said. It is available now for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4s running iOS 3.0 and higher, third-generation iPods with iOS 3.1 and higher, and iPads with iOS 3.2 and higher.

This is the same flaw used by the widely popular JailBreakMe site and software that quickly and easily allows visitors to the site to jailbreak almost any iOS device. For those of you wanting to secure your device but wish to maintain your freedom from Apple it should be noted that installing the update will prevent jailbreaks from working and will undo the jailbreak on a currently jailbroken phone. Therefore it is recommended that you install "PDF Patcher 2" via Cydia and wait for the next jailbreak for the latest iOS versions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google Offers Now In NYC And The Bay Area

Google Offers, the recently launched deal of the day service from Google, has added New York City and the Bay Area to its short list of featured cities.

Subscribers who sign up at www.google.com/offers or via the new “Today’s Offer” tab in Google Shopper 2.0 for Android can now receive emails with local offers from Portland, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Deal seekers in Austin, Boston, Denver, Seattle and Washington, D.C are next up on the list, although Google hasn't mentioned when they will roll out the service to those cities.

To kick off the bi-coastal rollout Google is offering the following deals:

For more details checkout the Official Google Blog - Google Offers beta launching in New York City and the Bay Area

Monday, July 11, 2011

Geek Office Gadgets: Office Equipment

Today’s post comes courtesy of a Swedish office supply, kontorsmaterial online retailer, Profsoffice Europe AB. The Swedish retailer not only sells office supplies online but also provides all sorts of updated office equipment that are a must as a Geek Gadget.


The Sony PlayStation and cool mobile phones may be considered top notch geek gadgets yet; there are other every day gadgets and equipment that while not as flashy are just as important in our everyday lives. We often over look office equipment as none essential, but trends are changing and there are more demands for equipment such as dokumentförstörare (paper shredders in Swedish), lamineringsmaskiner (Swedish for laminating machine) or a dataprojektor (Swedish for data projector).

Buying office equipment

Making a purchase shouldn't be a hasty decision. You should always shop around for the best deal but you should never over look the reputation of the seller. Do your research and make sure you always buy from someone reputable.

One thing that you should keep in mind and is vital, make sure that the office equipment comes with a warranty and you are able to refer to the seller in case there was a malfunctioning with the machine. With less than reputable sellers often times customers find themselves pushed off onto the manufacture for returns which can be a major hassle.

Leasing office equipment

There are many US based sites that offer office equipment leasing. So the first step is to first check whether the leasing site is reliable and of course if it offers the equipment that you are looking for. Since the Internet is wide open and there are many frauds, one should first check the reviews from several sites and try to contact people who have already used the leasing site’s office equipment.

Whether buying or leasing it is important to keep in mind that a reputable dealer is a must. Especially for those in the home office or small business arenas as break downs tend to happen. Be sure to look for repair and maintenance policies as well as warranty terms.

Microsoft Says Windows 8 Won't Require Hardware Upgrades

In a possible attempt to spur Windows 7 adoption Microsoft confirmed today that Windows 8 will carry similar or even lower hardware requirements to those of Windows 7. Meaning unlike the leap from XP to say Vista any computer currently running Windows 7 will be upgradable to Windows 8 when the next version of Windows is released.

Speaking at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Steve Ballmer revealed that Windows 7 has officially sold 400 million licenses to-date. Despite those numbers Windows XP still holds nearly twice the market share worldwide.

"Two-thirds of business PCs are still on Windows XP. Moving these users to Windows 7 is important and urgent work for us to get after together," Tami Reller, corporate VP and CFO for Windows. "Whether upgrading an existing PC or buying a new one, Windows will adapt to make the most of that hardware," Reller said. Windows 8 is for "the hundreds of millions of modern PCs that exist today and for the devices of tomorrow."

If rumors are true Windows 8 is slated to be released early next year with a possible beta release as soon as this fall. Microsoft hopes to bolster sales of Windows 7 pcs so the company is urging both businesses and consumers to upgrade now and by promising they will be able to use the same PC to run Windows 8 later.

"Windows 8 is a true re-imagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface," Reller said. Despite the re-imagining, Microsoft will keep system requirements flat or reduce them. Currently to run Windows 7, PCs need at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB available disk space and DirectX 9 graphics. We strongly suggest a faster CPU and at least 2GBs of RAM and a much larger hard drive!

For more details on what's in store for Windows 8 checkout Microsoft's First Official Look at Windows 8

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Apple Hit With Major Setback In 'Appstore' Case

Apple has been hit with a major setback in it's attempts at blocking online retailers from using the "App Store" name.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton has ruled that Apple cannot block Amazon from using “Appstore” as the name of the company's new Amazon Appstore for Android. However she did not go so far as to rule that the term is generic as Amazon, Microsoft and others had contented.

According to the decision, Apple simply failed to show that a “likelihood of confusion” would result from Amazon’s use of the term.

The initial ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by Apple seeking a preliminary injunction to force Amazon (and eventually others) to stop using the term immediately, effectively forcing them to re-brand.

While its just a preliminary ruling things looks fairly bleak at this point for Apple. Hamilton set a trial date for October 2012 at which time she will hear further arguments from both sides. The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc v. Amazon.com Inc, 11-1327.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

CNET Infringement Case Dropped

A major copyright infringement case against CBS Interactive, CNET’s publisher and owner of CNET’s Download.com site, has been dropped. The lawsuit originally filled back in May in Los Angeles by a handful of musicians and filmmaker Alkiviades David accused the company of illicitly profiting from piracy by distributing 220 million copies of LimeWire over the Download.com site since 2008.

According to previous reports the case had been on shaky grounds for months following U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer's request that the plaintiffs specify the content pirated on LimeWire. At the time the plaintiffs submitted just six copyrights as being infringed and could not directly link them to CNET, Download.com or CBS Interactive.

Wired.com has reported that David’s attorney, Adam Wolfson, has threatened to open further proceeding stating in his filing that the case would be re-filed to represent more plaintiffs and “many thousands of songs and other copyrighted works.” (.pdf)

It would appear as though Mr David and the other plaintiffs were barking up the wrong tree on this one. CNET might have helped distribute the already freely distributed LimeWire application. However the company didn't host files, nor did they advocate or facilitate the downloading of illegal or copyrighted content the way LimeWire had.

iPad 2 Jailbreak Now Available

iPad 2 owners the wait for a jailbreak is finally over as the iOS hacking team known as comex has finished work on JailbreakMe 3.0 which has been updated to support all devices running iOS version 4.3.3.

The jailbreak is completely free and only takes a few minutes to complete. Simply visit the JailbreakMe website with your iOS device’s Safari browser and follow the directions. After that, you’ll be able to use Cydia to fully customize your iOS devices with a wide plethora of themes and/or tweaks you can imagine. 

For those that aren't aware of what JailbreakMe is it's the drive by browser-based jailbreak service that uses a PDF flaw found in Safari to break your iOS device free from Apple's control. The keys to iOS freedom can be found at JailbreakMe.com. As always Jailbreak at your own risk!

Just a note the servers are currently being overwhelmed with traffic so you will need to be patient. You might even want to wait a day or two before attempting the jailbreak. And as always you should back-up any important data before jailbreaking.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

AVAST Now Offering Free Credit Monitoring

AVAST Software has announced that in addition to their free antivirus the company will begun offering free credit monitoring service for all the company's customers in the United States.

The new service dubbed avast! CreditAlert, offers users real-time protection notifying users via pop-up if their credit report suddenly changes, providing them with an early-warning system for signs of identity theft.



“The integration of identity protection technology into our antivirus products is something our users have been asking us about,” said Vince Steckler, CEO of AVAST Software. “With the new CreditAlert feature, they can now have this information.”

The new service will feature both a free version and a premium version which offers more protection and a few additional features.

avast! CreditAlert Free – The first-ever integrated free credit report monitoring and alert service. After activation by registered avast! users, CreditAlert will monitor the TransUnion credit report and alert users when any suspicious changes are detected. Users can use the online resources to guide them through the dispute and resolution process. CreditAlert services are free, with no cost or obligation, and will not influence the user’s credit score.

avast! CreditAlert Premium – Comprehensive protection for your identity
avast CreditAlert Premium, searches thousands of databases for signs of your personal information being misused. Services include data monitoring at all three credit bureaus and 24/7 access to your credit reports and credit scores. Suspicious issues are, with your approval, investigated, unauthorized activity stopped, and records restored by a team of experts at no additional charge.

Keeping watch over your credit rating should now be part of your personal security regime. But keeping a vigilant, non-stop watch over one’s credit rating is expensive or time limited. While each bureau will issue one free credit report a year, that still leaves a lot of time for criminals to do some damage.

Can Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS Really Dominate Today’s Competitive Smartphone Market?

When Microsoft entered the smartphone OS race towards the end of last year having reportedly spent over $1 billion dollars in the process, it did so with a view to outrunning the popularity of Apple iOS (iPhone) and Google Android (HTC 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S – the list goes on) – so what has Microsoft got up its sleeve that we don’t know about?

Image courtesy of Expansys

Way back in 2004, with high-quality hardware and a solid platform for which developers could easily build mobile applications, Windows Mobile held a very respectable 23 per cent of global smartphone sales. It was even predicted that it would supersede Nokia’s Symbian OS to become the leading mobile operating system by 2010.

Where Microsoft fell down, however, was on overall user experience; their devices were too complicated to use, alienating the average user from them altogether. This problem is in stark contrast to the market’s newest and biggest players, Apple and Google, who have both managed to make their operating systems accessible and easy to use, even for the technically-challenged.

While Apple’s brand has remained closely guarded, it’s still incredibly innovative and has managed never to dilute its offering or provide its customer with a mixed message. Android, on the other hand, is whipping up a smartphone storm, with its smartphone OS spread across countless handset brands and various other tailored versions of the OS now spilling over into tablets, TVs, laptops etc...

So Android’s brand is rather more confusing than Apple’s minimalistic and simplistic offering, but has so far proven successful nonetheless simply because it’s the accessible OS of the everyman.
However, there are startling similarities between the current battle for mobile OS dominance compared with that of the battle for PC market share.

When Apple released the first Macintosh, it took the world by storm. But Apple was slowed down by its very own culture of innovation; while the world waited for Apple’s next revelation, Microsoft was able to jump in, fill the gap and seep into every crevice of the PC market.

Could this be happening again in the smartphone market? Aside from Microsoft, there is not a stronger company dedicated to building a sustainable mobile ecosystem inclusive of the wireless carriers, handset manufacturers, ISVs and stores.

With Apple maintaining complete control of every bit of its brand (application development and hardware) and Google and its Open Handset Alliance allowing free access to everyone and anyone (developers and handset manufacturers alike), where can Microsoft fit in? Here’s how:
  1. Give WP7 away free – it’s the only way to encourage people to get on board in an already overcrowded and very competitive market.
  2. Capitalise on the success of the Xbox – as the Xbox franchise continues to grow, Microsoft will need to start developing products that will influence the mainstream, not just gamers.
  3. Produce a coherent three-screen (online, mobile and living room) series – While Microsoft does have these three elements in place (Bing, Xbox, Kinect and WP7), the experience isn’t unified where the likes of Apple’s is.
  4. Educate the consumer – Microsoft can capitalise on Android’s now inherent fragmentation problem by guiding consumers about what they buy.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Android and the Samsung Galaxy S II

The following post comes courtesy of Bridget Knapp a freelance writer specializing in the converging worlds of technology and education.


Something very important happened in 2008: the Google Android operating system for smartphones was launched. This open source platform promised a revolution in smartphone technology, and it has clearly delivered on that initial promise. As well as providing a really slick and efficient operating system, it also integrates well with many of Google’s other applications.

As smartphone manufacturers do not need to pay a license fee to Google in order to include Android in their products, and the fact that the technology is at least as good as the iOS that powers the iPhone, Android became an instant hit with smartphone manufacturers.

Before late 2010 the Symbian operating system that powers Nokia and other phones had been the most popular; but by the end of the year Symbian phone sales had been surpassed by Android. Android phones now own over 35% of the total smartphone market.

Android based smartphones are continually getting smarter, as is clearly demonstrated by the latest release from Samsung: the Samsung Galaxy S II. This machine now has a 1.2 GHz dual core processor plus HSPA+. This adds speedy downloads, along with super-fast processing power.

The display uses super AMOLED Plus technology, which has several advantages over previous display technologies. These include:

- a twofold improvement of color gamut compared to LCD displays
- increased sharpness
- better luminescence
- a response time of only 0.01 milliseconds compared with 25 milliseconds of LCDs
- a massively increased viewing angle and contrast ratio (up from 1,263 to 150,950)

Unlike other displays, super AMOLED Plus does not need a special additional touch panel as the display is considerably thinner. This means that the phone can be kept slim and that light transmission is much improved. The phone is only 8.49 mm thick.

Voice recognition features allow you to create and send a text message without touching the phone, ideal when you are driving or it is cold and you are wearing gloves!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

HP TouchPad Charging Issues

 Update: We've recently added a new post with 5 Tips To Get Your TouchPad Running Again.

So you just got your new HP TouchPad home and it's not charging correctly, or perhaps you get an error box that says the connected charger isn't supplying enough power to charge the device. Well don't panic, you aren't alone, and the issue is actually pretty easy to remedy.

The TouchPad's North America Twist-to-lock plug adapter is actually a universal charging device. The top screws off so a second attachment for none US power prongs can be added. If the top isn't securely fastened your device will either show the aforementioned error box or simply won't charge. Right out of the box if you are having issues I'll almost guarantee the issue is the barrel connector.

How can you be certain its connected? Well that's the tricky part. Un-screw the top, and screw it back in, making sure it snaps into place. You might also notice some writing on the side of the connector. Make sure that is aligned correctly.

If it's still not working grab another micro USB charger and connect it to your TouchPad. Note: I've been told you can not charge your TouchPad via USB. USB ports do not provide enough power for charging (this might not include USB 3.0) we are waiting on confirmation of this!

If you are still seeing problems you should probably call or contact HP and use their HP webOS Butler Service (866) 945-7256. Its free for the first 90days.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

MoviePass Has A Short Lived Opening As Their Beta Is Put On Hold

Earlier today we blogged about MoviePass, a new all-you-can-watch movie service that was planned to launch in beta in San Francisco this week. Apparently plans to launch the new service weren't backed by major theaters as many have been pulling away and distancing themselves from the service. A

MC even claimed MoviePass included the theater chain without its consent.

“Plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” Stephen Colanero, AMC Theatres‘ marketing chief, said Thursday in a press release. “It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theaters they are not to accept MoviePass.”

At least two other major movie chains, Camera Cinemas and Landmark Theatres, also confirmed the would be turning away customers who attempt to use MoviePass.

“We are stunned that an announcement like this was made, and they ‘forgot’ to discuss it with their clients,” Landmark Theatres CEO Ted Mundorff told TheWrap in an interview. “We are not interested in outside entities setting ticket prices for us.”

MoviePass coordinated their ticketing with online ticket sellers, instead of directly through the cinemas, after not being able to get exhibitors to sign on. The company hoped to get a proof-of-concept out of its private beta and use that to get the movie chains on board, said MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes in a phone interview with Wired.com.

Even though the beta is currently on hold the company plans to purse other avenues in hopes to get other theaters to test the service, with the aim of resuming the trial period and proving the model to theater chains.

“We’re enthusiastic that once we can walk them through the service they’ll be excited, we just haven’t had that opportunity yet,” Spikes said. “The silver lining of all of this is that this has created the ability to have that dialog now.”

For now at least it looks like the plans to launch an unlimited movie experience are on hold. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if the theater chains warm up to the idea or if MoviePass will have to try a work around to get their service in place.

Back to Basics - 8 Common sense tips for maintaining a safe internet environment in your home

With today being Social Media Day I thought I'd share a great article written by Dave Barker of TrueCare Awareness Online.

Back to Basics 8 Common sense tips for maintaining a safe internet environment in your home.
by Dave Barker, TrueCare Awareness Online

In a world where almost everyone has a nightmarish story involving kids and social media, being a parent in 2011 can be a terrifying thing. It is almost impossible to monitor a child’s online presence at the level we’d all like to. No one has that much time. That said, we’d like to offer some tips for preserving sanity and peace of mind when it comes to worrying about your sons and daughters on the internet.

1. Discussion. Discussion. Discussion.

Parents must have a good sense about what’s going on in their kids’ online worlds. Since Facebooking has become a daily routine for kids, it needs to be part of the daily conversation. The more open you are with your kids and facilitate a safe and non-judgmental environment for conversation, the more likely they are to tell you if they come across an issue. While the idea of openness and parenting sometimes seem like they shouldn’t go together, imagine this: do you want to talk about things at the dining room table in a calm atmosphere or after something forces the issue?

2. Keep The Computer In A Common Area
Laptops, smart phones, and tablets have allowed us to overlook the cardinal rule of kids on the internet – keep the communication vehicles in a common area where parents can monitor websites and time allocated to internet activity. Making them mobile makes it even more difficult to monitor and manage. We all grew up without access to the internet on our phones and still managed to survive. Your kids can too.

3. Manners For Texting, E-Mailing Or Chatting Online
As you have in every aspect of your child’s life, you set the expectations for manners and appropriate behavior. Coach them to behave as you have taught them in real life.  Typed content is the same as verbal communication. Digital manners need to be reinforced just as regular manners do.

4. Understand the Settings of Social Media Sites
While settings can sometimes be difficult to find and hard to navigate, understanding the settings can save you time and heartache down the road. They control what information people can and can’t see and what information is sent out upon posting.  Be certain that any settings are set to your preferences. Also remember that Facebook technically prohibits children under 13 from even having a Facebook account.

5. Posting Pictures – Interpretation is in the Mind of the Beholder
A picture posted online is not private. A photo sent between cell phones is not private. Make sure that your children are aware that mistakes do happen and so-called private messages go public, or that sometimes people you trust make mistakes in judgment.  Once a photo hits Facebook, it is legally owned by Facebook and will always be on their servers even if you delete it. It can be downloaded and reposted across the entire web within hours.  Explain that on the internet, nothing is really ever gone, and the consequences of an immature decision will be viewable for years to come.

6. Kids and Adults should Not Be Friends
You and your kids should be connected in social media so you can monitor their behavior. However, you may need to be careful with their connections to other adults because of the adult content that person and their friends can bring to your kids’ social networks.

7. Teach children what to do if they get an offensive or threatening IM, e-mail, or chat room post
According to the National Crime Prevention Center, in 2010 over 40% of children were the victim of an online bully. Of that number, 90% never discussed the situation with their parents.  The more conversations you have with your kids about what occurs online, the more likely they will be to talk to you about what’s going on. Take every opportunity to teach them how to manage themselves in confusing situations.

8. If Your Child Has A Social Media Account, They Are At Risk.
No one can hide on the internet.  A social media account means that a child’s personal information is available in a search engine. Be certain that content is managed appropriately. Performing a Google search every once in a while may be a good idea to make sure that you’re aware of your kids’ online presence.
 
We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, and we know that what we’re saying is largely common sense. However, we feel strongly that there’s no such thing as too much caution when it comes to our kids and the internet. That’s why we started TrueCare, and why we feel so passionately about what we do. We are all concerned parents and nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our children.

Unfortunately, these days it is almost impossible to devote the necessary time to comb through their pages. However, there are programs out there that are able to monitor your child without your daily intervention. Such programs are available to sift through your child’s social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace) and when they come upon certain keywords will alert you to a potential issue on your child’s page. References to sex, alcohol, bullying, drug abuse, depression, suicide, violence, and racism will trigger an email to you containing an alert.

We don’t do this because we don’t trust our children. We do this because we know that the world we live in now isn’t the same as the one we grew up in. It’s our job as parents to try to protect our kids from as much as we can, in whatever way that we can. We do this to try to keep bullies and predators from harming the things that we love most. We feel that nothing is worth more than that, and we think you do too.

DOJ Shuts Down Full Tilt Poker

The U.S. Department of Justice has pulled the plug on one of the internet's most popular online poker sites, Full Tilt Poker.

That's right the site that runs all those ads claiming you can play like the pro's with real life professional poker players, including Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Phil Gordon, and several others has been shutter by U.S. authorities cracking down on online gambling. According to a report in the L.A. Times, the gambling commission on the island of Alderney in the British Channel Islands suspended the licenses of Full Tilt Poker following an investigation prompted by indictments in the U.S. Those indictments charged Full Tilt Poker executives with bank fraud, money laundering, and other crimes.

The Alderney commission said its investigation found evidence that Full Tilt was operating in violation of local laws.

"The decision to suspend the eGambling license was in the public interest and, because of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, it required that immediate action be taken," said Andre Wilsenach, the commission's executive director.

The site now bears a notice posted by the FBI stating they have seized the domain pursuant to an arrest warrant.





To date Full Tilt Poker's only statement is that issues on their home page.

Full Tilt Poker has always maintained the highest levels of integrity and compliance with the law. Due to recent events Full Tilt Poker is unable to accept ‘Real Money’ play from customers located in the United States. However, please know that your funds are safe and secure we are working to resolve the distribution of these funds.

Important information for US players in the US Player FAQ

How To Invite All Your Facebook Friends To Google+

If you where one of the lucky few (hundred thousand or so) that actually got in on the first round of invites to Google+ you've probably notice a nice barren landscape with few of your friends around. You've probably also notice that Google+ doesn’t have an option built in to transfer your Facebook friends. Well we've done some digging and came up with two options that should work for you.

Update: Over the weekend FaceBook blocked the Facebook Friend Exporter extension. The Yahoo option listed below may still work but it looks like they are working to block everyone from "taking" their friends with them to Google+

The first option comes via Mohamed Mansour on Google+ who shares what we think might be the easiest method of importing all of your Facebook users over from one service to the other. This option utilizes the Facebook Friend Exporter extension for the Chrome web browser. The tool adds an “Export friends” button to the Facebook toolbar so you'll also need that installed.

What this process does is add all of your Facebook friends to your Google Contacts. It does not actually add them to any of your Google+ circles. But you can do that later and with much great easy now that they are in your contacts. This might not be ideal, as it grabs all your FB friends however, this is far and away the easiest way to go about inviting and adding hundreds of friends on Google+. The best thing is it uses your Google Contacts to suggest people to invite using an easy drag and drop process.off adding them.

The second option, which is also fairly painless, involves creating or using an existing Yahoo account. This option will also allow you to connect with several other services like all your G-Mail, Windows Live Hotmail or AOL contacts.
  1. Sign up (or log into) a Yahoo! Mail account, click the "Contacts” tab at the top, and then "Import Contacts." Authorize Facebook (or whatever other service you want) access to your Yahoo! address book. This will add them to your Yahoo account.
  2. Log in to Google Plus (http://plus.google.com) and navigate to your "Circles" (https://plus.google.com/circles).
  3. Click "Find and Invite", and then click Yahoo! Import your Facebook friends to the "Suggestions" section.
Either suggestion will be a bit time consuming, especially for those of you with hundreds or thousands of contacts. But at this time they appear to be the only viable options. I'm looking for an extension that will work with Firefox but so far I haven't found any.

I should also note that at this time Google has shut down Google+ invites as they are over capacity. So for now at least you'll need to wait to invite all your friends to connect with you. Last but not least for all you that are worried about removing any of your contacts if you don't like the service Google has a new tool called Google Takeout. In short, it’s a way to quickly and cleanly remove your data from Google Buzz, Google Contacts and Circles, Picasa, your Google Profile, and Google Stream.

MoviePass Offers Unlimited Movie Tickets For $50 Per Month

All you movie geeks out there take notice there is a new service opening up this week that is right up your alley! MoviePass, is a new service scheduled to launch this week in San Francisco California.

For $50 a month users will be able to see as many movies as they want at one of the "at hundreds of cinema locations" that are currently participating. Simply download an app to your iPhone, Android or other smartphone, make your reservation and go. That's it!

From your smartphone you can search for a film, find a local show time, check in to the theater and go straight to the ticket-taker with your reservation confirmation number. If you want to see a 3-D or Imax film, you will have the option to pay a $3 surcharge. Eventually there will also be the option of a “limited pass” offering four movies a month for $30.

“MoviePass makes spur-of-the-moment movie-going as simple as choosing a film on the phone and checking in at the theater,” said MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes. “No more waiting in line.”

Currently MoviePass is running in beta and has only been rolled out to a dozen or so movie theaters in the San Francisco Bay area, with plans to roll out into other cities over summer. Exact locations and participating theaters aren't listed at this time.So you might be hit and miss at to which theaters you'll be able to visit.

My thoughts:

Would you pay $50 a month for all the movies you can see? Right about now, when all the big movies are hitting the screen, it might be well worth it for a single person, high schooler ect to pay the fee. You could easily watch 4-5 movies a month making the pass well worth the cost.

For a busy body or small family though it really wouldn't be feasible. You might get 1-2 movies in per month and in most cases you could get better deals going to matinees. During the off times when you don't see as many blockbusters in theaters you might also have a hard time recouping the cost. So while I like the unlimited movies idea I'm not sure the price range would be worth it for most people.

For more info checkout http://splash.moviepass.com/

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amazon Officially Terminates California Based Affiliates

Early today Amazon was making headlines when the company went public with their fight against a new California law that would reqire the payment and collect of sale taxes for any sale originating from sites and affiliates based in California. The company sent out emails informing affiliates that if the law is inacted it would be forced to terminate contracts with those affiliates that are within the state.

Tonight unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the so-called budget trailer bill, ABx1 28, authored by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley). As a result of this, Amazon has sent out notices that contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective immediately, June 29, 2011.

Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. The company did say however that qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

Below we've attached the full text of the email we recieved earlier today.

Hello,
Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect your ability to purchase from Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com.

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. As mentioned before, we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

Regards,
The Amazon Associates Team

Generally, if sales tax would apply when you buy physical merchandise in California, use tax applies when you make a similar purchase without tax from a business located outside the state," according to the California Board of Equalization's Web page. That includes Web sites like Amazon, Google and others which under the new law would lose that profit to the state

My thoughts:

Otiginally I didn't understand the law specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state. I thought Amazon was taking a harsh stance punishing affiliate marketers because they didn't want to pay for goods sold in the state. I thought this only affected sellers with storefronts, selling physcial goods.

Personally I see no correlation between where a site, or affiliate is based with taxing those links. My personal address should have no bearing, I pay taxes on any affiliate money made and don't sell a physical good. I could understand if we are talking the transfer of actual goods, like a drop shipping store front or something similar but taxing an affiliate link seems like a stretch.

The really bad part of this is that this will not only affect sites like Amazon but almost any affiliate site. That means this could affectively put an end to any California based affiliates.

You May Soon See World of Warcraft On Your iPad

Blizzard's Greg Street recently spoke with popular gaming site Eurogamer about the company's thought on porting the hugely popular MMORPG to devices running on Apple's iOS.

"Everyone I know here has an iPhone or an iPad so we're huge fans of the hardware," Street said. "If we could make the right game changes to make that work, it's something we'd be interested in. It's not something you're going to see in the next week or two, but it's the kind of thing we're always looking at."

It appears as though some of the current focus is around the hardware requirements. Anyone that has played the game knows WOW is designed for use with a mouse and a keyboard. Currently they are facing similar issues with finding a console solution that lets could replicate keyboard and mouse input easily. Finding a viable solution for a touch based device might prove to be a much great challenge.

A second major issue would be the need to use an optimized, scaled-down version of the game with lower-resolution graphics in order to fit within the limited mobile hardware environment. This may also mean that the MMORPG would require its own servers to keep the gameplay experience even. A possible solution would be using a solution similar to that of David Perry's Gaikai service which has already proven that World of Warcraft can be streamed inside an Internet browser.

For gamers it should be interesting to see where Blizzard heads with this. The iPad is undoubtedly one of the most popular tablet platforms out there and WOW is by far one of the most popular games to date. If they can work out the interface its possible that we could see many more of our favorite games being shuffled over to tablets.

Own A Palm Pre or Pixi Get A $50 Rebate On The 32GB TouchPad

For those of you that own a Palm Pre, Pre Plus, Pixi, or Pixi Plus now through July 31 you can get a $50 rebate on the purchase of a new 32GB TouchPad.

The deal is initially pen in the US or Canada only and there is no mention of any other phones being accepted into the rebate program. Palm also says "proof of ownership" is required, however the details of how to provide that proof are missing. According to a few tweets you won't need a receipt to claim the rebate -- for most people, a serial number will do the trick.

A bit surprising is the fact that Palm/HP seems to only be accepting some of the older phones for the program and none of the company's newer phones. I'm sure Veer owners would love to be apart of the offer!

You can read more at The Official HP Palm Blog: Early adopters: your new TouchPad just got $50 closer

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.

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