Monday, December 31, 2012

Microsoft Patches Latest Internet Explorer Security Flaw

As reported yesterday an exploit has been discovered impacting three older versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. Microsoft released a quick "Fix it" patch that closes the exploit found in IE6, IE7 and IE8.

Microsoft's Security Response Center posted a link to the patch on its website today. The page states:

This easy, one-click Fix it is available to everyone and prevents the vulnerability from being used for code execution without affecting your ability to browse the Web. Additionally, applying the Fix it does not require a reboot. While we have still observed only a few attempts to exploit this issue, we encourage all customers to apply this Fix it to help protect their systems.

Microsoft adds that the company is still working on releasing a full security update that will plug up the exploit once and for all, but there is no word on when this update will be released.

New Laws Ban Employers From Asking For Social Media Passwords

With the new coming new year dozens of new laws will be enacted, many of which provide social media protection for employees prohibiting them from demanding access to workers' password-protected social networking accounts. In all, more than 400 measures were enacted at the state level during 2012 and will become law in the new year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).



In California and Illinois, laws that take effect at 12:01 a.m. local time will make it illegal for bosses to request social networking passwords or non-public online account information from their employees or job applicants.

Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a similar measure into law earlier this month that took effect immediately. The Michigan law also penalizes educational institutions for dismissing or failing to admit a student who does not provide passwords and other account information used to access private internet and email accounts, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Security Flaw Found In Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8

Microsoft has confirmed the discovery of a new security flaw that affects Internet Explorer versions 6 through 8. The new flaw is considered critical by Microsoft as it is actively being used by attackers to hijack victims' Windows computers.

The vulnerability is a remote code execution vulnerability that exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated. The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer. An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website.

In a security advisory issued Dec. 29, Microsoft acknowledged that attacks are taking place. "Microsoft is aware of targeted attacks that attempt to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer 8," the alert stated. Jonathan Ness and Cristian Craioveanu, engineers on Microsoft's security team, provided some details on the IE flaw in a separate post to the Security Research & Defense blog. "We're working around the clock on the full security update," Ness and Craioveanu wrote.

Ways to block code execution
The best protection against exploits for this vulnerability is for the vulnerable code to not be present. Internet Explorer 9 or 10 do not include the vulnerable code. And the IE team is working around the clock to develop a security update to address this vulnerability for earlier versions of the product. However, until the update is available, customers using Internet Explorer 8 can block the current targeted attacks by introducing changes to disrupt any of the elements of the exploit. Specifically:
    • Disabling Javascript will prevent the vulnerability from being triggered initially.
    • Disabling Flash will prevent the ActionScipt-based heap spray from preparing memory such that the freed object contains exploit code.
    • Disabling the ms-help protocol handler AND ensuring that Java6 is not allowed to run will block the ASLR bypass and the associated ROP chain.
Another alternative - one likely to have less impact on your browsing experience - is to install EMET and enable it to protect Internet Explorer. EMET’s Mandatory ASLR mitigation will block both the Java6-based and hxds.dll-based ASLR bypass. EMET’s Export Address Filtering (EAF) mitigation blocks the shellcode used in the targeted attacks we have analyzed. EMET 3.5’s ROP mitigation blocks both the Java6 and hxds.dll ROP chains used in the exploits we have analyzed.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Google Voice Free For At Least One More Year

Good news for Google Voice users, Google has confirmed they will be offering the popular internet based phone service for free for at least one more year. "You'll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013," Mayur Kamat, a product manager at the company, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Google debuted to the public back in 2010, with the company extending the free calling service at the end of every year-- through 2011 and 2012 -- and since then.

The free service offers user a slew of great features including the ability to set up a single phone number that can ring multiple phones. You can also set up personalized greetings per-caller or per-group, screen your calls, listen in on voicemails as they're being left, access your voicemails (and their text transcripts) online, and more. You can also block individual numbers, send free SMSs, make cheap international calls, and even port your existing number if you don't want to sign up for a new one.

If you’ve never tried out Google Voice, and you live in the US or Canada, all you need is a Google Account and an area code to get one setup. Once you have a Google Voice account, you can set it up on an Android or iOS smartphone as a second number that will ring on your existing phone very easily.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yahoo Offering Three Months of Flickr Pro For Free

Yahoo's popular photo and video sharing service Flickr is giving both new and current users a great holiday gift, offering everyone three free months of Flickr Pro. Flickr Pro, which normally costs $25 a year, allows users to upload an "unlimited" amount of photos and videos. Viewing for both photos and videos is also unlimited and photos can be placed in 60 different groups.

Here's exactly what you get:
  • Unlimited* uploads (up to 50MB per photo)
  • Unlimited viewing of your entire photo library
  • Post photos in up to 60 groups
  • Download your original, high-resolution photos – whenever you need them
  • Upload and play unlimited HD videos

Flickr is just one of the latest Instagram rivals trying to capitalize on the latter service's major mistake earlier this week, which saw it spark heavy user backlash by changing its terms of service and saying it had the right to sell user photos to advertisers. Flickr's parent company Yahoo is quick to point to a Flickr post titled "At Flickr, your photos are always yours." Instagram has since issued a mea culpa and backtracked on the changes is made but that hasn't stopped many users from seeking alternative sites and services.

For more details see the Flickr Holiday Gift Page



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Steam Holiday Sale Now Through Jan 5th

Steam has kicked off its traditional Steam Holiday Sale offering gamers several popular titles at up to 75 percent off through January 5th.

As per years past the Steam Holiday Sale will feature daily offerings such as those found on the site today which included Mirror's Edge for $5, Wargame: European Escalation at $10 while entries in the Borderlands and Hitman franchises are listed at 50-75 percent off.

Flash sales today included Batman: Arkham City GOTY($7.50), Natural Selection 2 ($10), Fable 3($25) and War of the Roses($15). The Indie Super Mega Pack includes 30 games each discounted up to 75 percent off, bundled for $70. There are a range of publisher packs as well, from Ubisoft, Valve, THQ, 2K Games, Bethesda, Sega and Square Enix.

Check out all the day's deals on the Steam Store.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Security Flaw Could Open Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II Devices To Attack

A major vulnerability has been discovered that could allow a would be attacker to remotely gain access to Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II smartphones. The vulnerability was first discovered by XDA Developers forum member “alephzain” who uncovered the problem and noted that an attacker could use a relatively harmless looking Play Store app to potentially access information from the phone’s RAM or even inject malicious code directly into its kernel. It has also been reported that the vulnerability could affect all devices that are equipped with a Exynos 4210 or 4412 processor and utilize Samsung’s kernel.

A spokesperson for the company reached out to CNET and confirmed that it is “currently in the process of conducting an internal review” of the issue.

Affected devices include versions of Samsung's S2 and S3 mobile phones, the Galaxy Note and Note II, Galaxy Note Plus and Galaxy Note 10.1, according to the post by Chainfire.

What should I do?

First, make sure your device is on the list of one that could be affected. The company has yet to offer an explanation for this potentially harmful exploit, so meanwhile we’ll just list some of the devices that could be affected, at least in theory, by malicious apps that would target this exploit:
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 GT-I9100
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-I9300
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE GT-I9305
  • Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2 GT-N7100
  • Verizon Galaxy Note 2 SCH-I605 (with locked bootloaders)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 GT-N8000
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 GT-N8010.
If you're using a stock device and it's on the list don't worry, it won't be hacked all on its own. You'll need to be mindful of what you're downloading and installing, especially if you're downloading and installing apps that might not be official. (Which you should be mindful of anyway.) There is no specific app permission to look out for, as any app is able to access the device memory. You'll have to be vigilant -- just like you always should be. It's is note worthy that nobody has seen or heard of any malware that is currently using this bug.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Amazon's Best Selling Books of 2012

For you book geeks out there Amazon has once again compiled their list of the hottest selling books of the year. As today the company released the Amazon Best Selling Books of 2012 list topped by “Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy” by E. L. James


“This was truly the year of the billionaire bad boy in romance—Amazon readers just couldn’t get enough of the genre,” said Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle at Amazon.com. “While E. L. James published the first two books in her Fifty Shades trilogy in 2011, so they aren’t eligible for our 2012 list, the series really took off this year and propelled the third installment and the omnibus edition onto our top 10 list. It’s also interesting to note that four of the five contemporary romance titles in the top 10 list, including the Fifty Shades trilogy, were originally independently published and went on to become huge best sellers.”

The top 10 best-selling books overall are:
  1. “Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy” by E. L. James
  2. “Gone Girl: A Novel” by Gillian Flynn
  3. “Fifty Shades Trilogy: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed 3-volume Boxed Set” by E. L. James
  4. “Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel” by Sylvia Day
  5. “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” by Mark Owen
  6. “The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire)” by Jennifer Probst
  7. “Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel” by Sylvia Day
  8. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham
  9. “Defending Jacob: A Novel” by William Landay
  10. “The Innocent” by David Baldacci

The top 10 best-selling Kids & Teens books are:
  1. “The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, Book 3)” by Rick Riordan
  2. “The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 7)” by Jeff Kinney
  3. “Insurgent (Divergent)” by Veronica Roth
  4. “The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, Book 3)” by Rick Riordan
  5. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  6. “City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments)” by Cassandra Clare
  7. “While it Lasts” by Abbi Glines
  8. “The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies, Book 3)” by Pittacus Lore
  9. “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio
  10. “Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure (Book 8)” by James Patterson
To see these lists and all of Amazon’s top 100 best-selling print and Kindle books of 2012, go to www.amazon.com/bestsellingbooks2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Maps For iOS Now Available, Takes Top Spot In The App Store Almost Immediately

Google Maps has made a glorious return to iOS devices thanks to the release of a standalone application. Once the go to source for all your mapping needs, Google was removed from iOS in favor of Apple's won sub-par offering. On Wednesday Google official released a new standalone app to be found in the Apple App Store.

Within a few hours after going live, Google Maps made its way to the list of the top free apps on the iPhone, showing just how disenfranchised users had become with Apple's offering. The new Google Maps app now includes turn-by-turn navigation, just like its Android counterpart, as well as public transit directions, integrated Street View, and a 3D-like Google Earth view.

The new Google Maps app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (4th gen) iOS 5.1 and higher, in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Google's Top Trends Of 2012

Google has published its annual Zeitgeist list for 2012, featuring the top search terms for 2012 as well as trending topics. "Trending" means search queries that had the most traffic over a sustained period in 2012 compared to the year before. "Most popular" is simply a measure of search query volume in 2012.

The top trending searches overall in the U.S. reflected current events and popular culture. The top five were: Whitney Houston, boosted when the star died unexpectedly; Hurricane Sandy, which inflicted significant damage along the Mid-Atlantic coast; the 2012 Elections, because the presidency was at stake; Hunger Games, the hit film version of the book series; and Jeremy Lin, a rising basketball star.


For those searching geek related materials the top tech trends were geared towards tablets and smartphones. The top five were: iPad 3, iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy S3, Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. And number six was Microsoft Surface.

Among U.S. searches for phones, Apple and Samsung dominated. The top five trending searches were: iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2. But Microsoft, Nokia and RIM haven't been forgotten, despite being overshadowed by Apple, Google, and Samsung. Their products found places in the top 10: Blackberry Bold and Blackberry Curve ranked sixth and seventh while the Nokia Lumia 900 and Windows 8 Phone ranked eighth and ninth.

For more results checkout the entire Google Zeitgeist list for 2012.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Google Gives Schools $99 Chromebooks For Christmas

Google is giving schools across the nation an early Christmas present announcing today that they will be partnering with DonorsChoose.org to offer discounted Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks for teachers and students.

In an effort to help put technology in the classrooms Google will be teaming with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects donors directly to public school classroom needs to offer public schools the chance to purchase a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook at the discounted price of $99 including hardware, management and support.

If you’re a full-time public school teacher in the U.S., visit DonorsChoose.org and follow the instructions to take advantage of this opportunity by December 21, 2012. Your request will be posted on DonorsChoose.org where anyone can make a donation to support your classroom. When you reach your funding goal, you’ll receive your Chromebooks from Lakeshore Learning, DonorsChoose.org’s exclusive fulfillment partner for this program. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Google's Personal Search Assistant Google Now Coming To Desktops Via Chrome

Google’s intelligent personal assistant found on smartphones running Jelly Bean is getting ready to roll out to desktop users in the form of a Google Chrome notifications. The feature was discovered in the latest Chromium beta release after being dissected by developers. Those developers have discovered the top-level structure for showing Google Now cards in Chrome via Chrome notifications.

For those note familiar with Google Now it's a search assistant found within Jelly Bean. The service displays Cards or Snapshots of information that Google thinks you might need to know about. This could be as basic as offering directions to the restaurant you just looked up, or as sophisticated as poping up a reminder for an upcoming flight it found within an email on Gmail.


At present nothing official has been released on the possible implementation and nothing has been activated. But clearly the company has been working on porting its predictive search features over to the desktop for future possibilities.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Google No Longer Accepting Signups For Free Version Of Google Apps

Google has announced that it will no longer be accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps. The company is instead moving all new business level users to a paid service with more support.

“Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes,” Google Apps director Clay Bavor wrote on the Google Enterprise blog. Any business that wants to sign up for Google Apps now has to pay $50 per user per year, regardless of the company’s size.

Starting today for all new customers:
  • Individuals wishing to use Google’s web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.
  • For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year.
 Existing Google Apps users need not worry as Google says this change has no impact on current customers, including those using the free version. And as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.

You can learn more about this change in the GoogleHelp Center or on the Google Enterprise Blog.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Verizon And AT&T Launch Targeted Ad Services

Wireless providers AT&T and Verizon have announced the launch of two similar services offering customers a free opt-in, location-based text messaging alerting service which target customers with various services, coupons and promotions through online or mobile advertisements. Known as Verizon Selects and AT&T Alerts the two programs will use geo-location technology and consumer preferences to deliver offers, rewards, and coupons without the need of download an application.

AT&T wireless customers can text “JOIN” to ATTAlerts (288253787) to opt-in to the service and begin receiving discounts, rewards and offers via text message when they are near participating retailers and brands such as Gap, Staples, Zales, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Duracell, Motorola or Discover. Customers can customize offer preferences and settings to receive offers most relevant to them by visiting http://alerts.att.com/join. Text messages to and from AT&T Alerts are free. As an added bonus, customers who sign-up for AT&T Alerts will receive $5 off with a $10 minimum purchase at ATT.com

AT&T wireless customers can visit http://alerts.att.com/join to sign-up and learn more, or text “JOIN” to ATTAlerts (288253787) from their AT&T wireless phones.

Beginning this week select Verizon customers can expect to receive invites to the new Verizon Selects services which the company says customers can opt-in or or out of at any time. Additionally they change their choices at any time at the Verizon Selects site or opt into or out of several other Precision Market Insights solutions that provide customers with an opt-out choice.

“We are asking customers to opt-in to Verizon Selects because of the types of information being used and because the capabilities provided to third-party marketers gives them the ability to reach customers directly,” the company wrote on its website. “It’s important to remember that Verizon DOES NOT share information that identifies customers personally outside of Verizon.”

Source: Verizon | AT&T

Monday, December 03, 2012

Bing It On Holiday Search Challenge Returns With $10k Top Prize

Microsoft has announced the return of its "Bing It On" search challenge with a chance to win a ‘Microsoft Box of Awesome' (Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360 with Kinect, Windows 8 device) or a chance at the grand prize: a $10,000 paid trip to any place in the U.S.

Launched earlier this year, the Bing It On Challenge is an interactive online tool that challenges users to select the best search results from either Bing or Google. The challenge is simple – within the tool you search for five search queries of your choice and compare the two different unbranded results from Bing and Google side-by-side. For each search result, you choose a winner, or declare it a “draw”. After you complete your five search queries and vote for each one, the tool will show you the final score.

Microsoft claims that people chose Bing over Google nearly 2:1 in the blind comparison tests, though my own results would prove otherwise. To enter the sweepstakes or learn more, visit the challenge site at www.bingiton.com, Official rules can be found here.

Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean Now Available For AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III Owners

Engadget is reporting that Android 4.1.1, better know as Jelly Bean, is now available for AT&T's Samsung Galaxy S III. So far reports have it pegged as only currently being available through KIES and not as an OTA update.


Samsung has said the update will include the following:
  • Camera Enhancements:
    • New live camera and camcorder filters offer a range of new ways to spark your creativity.Warm vintage, cold vintage, black and white, sepia, color highlights(blue, green, red/yellow), and many more are selectable from the main camera screen.
    • Pause and resume while recording videoallows users to string together multiple captured video clips from a party, birthday or sporting event into a single file with no post editing required.
    • Low light photo modetakes advantage of Galaxy S III’s best-in-class High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities and offers an optimized mode for low light and indoor photos.
  • Pop Up Play Update: Users can now easily resize or pausethe Pop Up Playpicture-in-picture videowindow, taking full advantage of the Galaxy S III’s powerful processor and large 4.8-inch screen.
  • Easy Mode:Easy Mode is a simplified user experience option for first-time smartphone owners, providing large home screen widgets that focus on the device essentials. The Easy widgets include both 4x2 and 4x4 arrangements of favorite contacts, favorite apps, favorite settings, clock and alarm.
  • Blocking Mode:Galaxy S III owners can disable incoming calls, notifications, alarms and LED indicators for a designated period of time.
  • Improved Usability: Users now have multiple keyboard options with the addition of the Swype® keyboard.


    Android 4.1 Jelly Bean offers users a smoother, faster and more fluid experience with expanded feature functionality, including:
    • Google Now:Google Now givesusers the right information at the right time, like how much traffic to expect before leaving work, when the next train is scheduled toarrive at the subway station or the score of a favorite team’s current game –conveniently delivered as notifications. Additionally, Google Now provides powerful voice assistant functionality across a range of domains, including weather, maps, navigation, search, image search, flight status and more. Google Now can conveniently be launched from the lock screen shortcut or by a long press on the menu button from any screen.
    • Rich Notifications:Notifications can now expand and shrink with a pinch to showthe right amount of information a user needs. Notifications have been enhancedso action can be taken without having to launch the app first – like sharing a screenshot directly from the notification.
    • Automatic Widget Adjustment:Customizing the home screen is easier than ever before. Users can simply place anew icon or widget on the screen, and existingicons will move out of the way to make space.When widgets are too big, they automatically resize to fit on the screen.
More Coverage via: xda-developers and Endgadget

Friday, November 30, 2012

This Week In Apple: Unlocked iPhones, Slimmer iMacs, iTunes 11 and China

This week has been a busy one for the geeks over at Apple. Earlier this week Apple announced that their new slimmer more powerful iMacs would be going on sale today.The company followed that up with the release of an unlocked iPhone 5 which is now on-sale directly from Apple. To round out the week Apple today announced that the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad mini and fourth generation iPad with Retina display will officially be available for sale in China on Friday, December 7, and iPhone 5 will be available on Friday, December 14.

New 21" and 27" iMacs

The new slimmer iMac will come in two variants with ample upgrade options.

First is the 21.5-inch iMac which will be available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M for a suggested retail price of $1,299; and with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US).

Net up is the 27-inch iMac which is available with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M for a suggested retail price of $1,799; and with a 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX for a suggested retail price of $1,999. 

The 21.5-inch iMac comes with 8GB of memory and can be configured online with 16GB. On the 27-inch iMac, 8GB of memory comes standard, and you can upgrade to 16GB or 32GB. For those looking to boost in video performance you can opt for an upgraded NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX GPU and those needing more processing power can opt for a quad-core Intel Core i7 at up to 3.4GHz.

Unlocked iPhone 5 Directly From Apple

If having the ability to pick and choose your carrier is your thing then you might want to opt for a new unlocked iPhone 5 directly from Apple. But be warned these unlocked device carry a hefty price tag!

As of today, instead of choosing from carriers Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon when buying the device at the online Apple Store, the tech giant is also offering the option of an "unlocked and contract-free" iPhone 5. Unlocked phone carrier the full price not that traditional subsidized pricing you see at your carrier. Prices start at $649 for the 16GB model (compared with the subsidized $199 entry price on contract), $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model.

"The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment," Apple wrote in its description of the unlocked device. "If you don't want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice."

iTunes 11 Now Available

Apple's iTunes 11 is a complete makeover to Apple's media service. Now offering a more streamlined simplified interface, more iCloud integration, and adding a new mini player. Other highlights include a completely redesigned player view, a new library view, a new recommendation system, a redesigned store, enhanced iCloud and iTunes Match support, and a new feature that finally saves the position of a video or audio book if you pause on one device and continue playing on another. iTunes 11 is available immediately for both OS X and Windows, and it can be downloaded via this link or using Apple’s software update feature.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Microsoft Announces Surface Pro Details Sets January For Release Date

Back in October when Microsoft first announced the new Microsoft Surface tablet speculation quickly grew as to what the pricing would be for the Windows 8 Pro version. Today we have our answer as Microsoft has revealed both the launch date and starting prices of the much anticipated devices.

MS Surface Pro


Starting in January, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available in two versions and pricing will start at $899:
  • 64GB standalone version at $899 
  • 128GB standalone version at $999
Both versions will both include a Surface pen with Palm Block technology and include the ability to use a Touch Cover or Type Cover which will be sold separately.

Powering the new tablets will be Intel’s next generation Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and a 10.6” 16:9 ClearType display that runs at a 1920x1080 full HD resolution. Surface with Windows 8 Pro also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port and a Mini DisplayPort that can drive an external display up to 2560X1440 resolution.

Since the Surface Pro packs a ton more firepower than its RT counterpart the Pro is going to be a bit thicker and heavier than what we currently see with the Surface RT. The Surface RT is 0.37" thick and weighs 1.5 pounds, while the Surface Pro is 0.57" thick and weighs 1.99 pounds.

For more details on Surface with Windows 8 Pro and Surface with Windows RT, you can visit Surface.com 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

7 Windows 8 Applications To Get You Started

The following is a guest post from Jason Clark. Jason writes about web tools and internet marketing for RankWatch.Com a rank monitoring software that allows you track your business' ranking on Google Places, Yahoo Places & Bing Places.


Windows 8 is the latest operating system from Microsoft and is already showing up on computers all around the world. One thing many of you will notice is that getting up to speed with Windows 8 will be a little more difficult than it was with early versions of Windows. The reason for this is that Windows 8 is completely different from any other Microsoft OS. Windows 8 is more entertaining and puts applications squarely at the center of the system. With all of the changes many people will need a guide to the top Windows 8 applications to get you started. We will show you some of the best applications you can load up on your new Windows 8 device.

1. Netflix
The Netflix application for Windows 8 is a free download and is easy to operate. Those that subscribe to Netflix will find this application a must. This application uses and tile-based interface that is both intuitive and beautiful. If your device has a touch screen, you will find the application even more functional. Another advantage is that you can stream movies directly through the application, which seems to offer a better picture that is smoother as compared to streaming them through a browser.

2. IM+
All types of social media are very popular and instant messaging is no exception to the rule. For this reason you should have a good IM application. While the Windows 8 messaging application is functional it currently only supports Windows Messenger and Facebook Chat, this could change in the future. If you do not want to wait, and you want to chat with all of your friends on any network then you should download IM+ from Shape. It is free, is supports many different chat networks, and it allows you to enable push notifications that help you stay in touch with your friends no matter what application you are using.

3. MusiXmatch Lyrics
This application is already available for other OSs such as iOS and android. This application has the ability to find the lyrics for nearly every song that has ever been written. The application has a database featuring nearly 6 million songs and has the latest hits out of the United States and the United Kingdom.

4. Norton-Satellite
While this application cannot replace the security of a full anti-virus program, it can be a useful security application. Some of the advantages of this application are that it is simple to use, and it scans all files from social media sites and many other sites as well.

5. SmartGlass
SmartGlass is a Microsoft application that works in conjunction with the XBOX 360 so it will probably be one of the most popular Windows 8 applications. The main purpose of the application is to offer those that play games on the XBOX a complimentary screen for the console. This application will convert the screen of any device into a companion screen for the XBOX. For those that use a tablet this application can turn your tablet into an XBOX remote which allows you to launch applications, videos, games, or other XBOX functions directly from your tablet.

6. TuneIn Radio
Along with a good IM application, we all need a good radio application as well. TuneIn Radio is the best one available for the Windows 8 platform. TuneIn Radio has access to more than 70,000 radio stations from all around the globe. TuneIn gives users the ability to browse radio stations based on their music preferences. For example you can browse sports, news, music, or comedy stations to name a few of the search options you will have available to you. You can also pin your favorites to the start screen for access that is quick and easy.

7. Multimedia 8
Multimedia 8 is the Windows 8 version of the Windows Media Player, but it has some added functionality included. The application will allow you to search music files that are located on a station, videos, playlists, and will access files that are located on the internet. This application also offers many other features.
While the Microsoft app store is still under construction, there are many applications available for Windows 8. These are the top Windows 8 applications to get you started no matter what type of device you are using, there are sure to be many more applications for this OS in the future

Popular Broswer Plug-In Adblock Plus Is Now Available For Android

Adblock Plus today announced the launch of the latest version of its popular ad-blocking software, designed to work on Android smartphones and tablets. The FREE app is available at the Google Play app store or from the AdblockPlus.org website, and is the first ad blocker for Android that doesn't require a rooted (jailbroken) phone.

Adblock Plus first gained popularity as a browser based plug-in used for blocking annoying ads on your PC. The application can be set to block all online advertising when browsing, and when using your favorite apps. Now the service is available for use on your Android device.


Adblock Plus for mobile works exactly the same as the browser extension, blocking all intrusive ads on your Android device. It blocks all online advertising when browsing, and blocks in-app advertising in popular apps such as Facebook and Angry Birds. Adblock Plus blocks: mobile ads, video advertising, banners, push notifications, display advertising, HTML5 advertising, and much more.

While the new App doesn't require your device to be rooted the application delivers different levels of functionality depending on the Android version that runs on your device and whether your device has been rooted/jailbroken.

Here’s what you can expect:
  • Rooted/Jailbroken: Blocks ads everywhere, over Wi-Fi and 3G
  • Non-rooted with Android 4 (or later): Blocks ads over Wi-Fi
  • Non-rooted with Android 3 or earlier: Some manual configuration is required. Please visit the ABP website to learn how to setup your own proxy.
  • Also, Android does not allow ads to be blocked on SSL encrypted websites.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Acer Facebook Contest Win An S7 Ultrabook Each Day Until The End of 2012

Hoping to spread the word and boost sales of their new S7 Ultrabook, Acer is running a Facebook contest giving lucky Facebook fans a chance to win a new S7 each day until December 31st.

"We've conducted four unique Facebook sweepstakes in the last year that have culminated in more than one million engaged fans interacting with Acer on a daily basis, and we're doing it yet again with the Acer S7 Select program," said Hugues Gontier, senior director of marketing, Acer America. "The Acer Aspire S7 has been widely praised as one of the most innovative and gorgeous touch-enabled Ultrabooks in the industry and we're thrilled to give our Facebook fans the opportunity to enter for a chance to win an Aspire S7 Ultrabook every day through this holiday season."

To enter, you have to visit a special page on Acer's Facebook Timeline, install the app, and start selecting friends that share attributes with the Aspire S7, such as "stylish," "brilliant," and "smooth," to name a few of the adjectives.

The Acer S7 Ultrabook features a 13.3-inch Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) touchscreen display, Windows 8 is half an inch thin, and weighs just 2.87 pounds. Powering them is either a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U Processor or the more powerful Intel Core i7-3517U CPU. The official rules suggest a retail price of $1650 so while the exact model Acer is giving away isn't clear it would appear to be the Acer S7 model S7-391-9839 or the S7-391-9886

Nintendo Offering Canadians Exclusive $100 Wii Mini Console

A little known device is making a big splash today as online retailers have inadvertently made public the new Wii Mini. First surfacing this morning on the Best Buy Canada website, and is being described as a gaming-only system without Internet connectivity the Wii Mini has since been confirmed via press release from Nintendo Canada.

Wii Mini

There are few details available about the new device beyond the fact that it is intended to run Wii only games. Cutting out both GameCube compatibility and online internet access. The Wii Mini is available exclusively in Canada during the holiday season and Nintendo offered no information about the potential availability in other territories in the future.

For more information about this and other features, visit nintendo.com/wiimini.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Online Black Friday Sales Topped $1 Billion For First Time Ever

Black Friday certainly was a success for online retailers this year. With more and more shoppers opting to avoid crowds and long lines. Instead opting to do most of their shopping from the comforts of home. According to analytics firm comScore online shopping on Black Friday surged to $1.042 billion, making it the heaviest online shopping day to date in 2012, and representing a 26 percent bump compared to last year.

"Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel – particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. "With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it amulti-channelmarketing phenomenon."

Total online sales for the first 23 days of the November-December 2012 holiday season reached $13.7 billion, up 16 percent versus the same time period one year ago. Online spending on Thanksgiving Day totaled $633 million, up nearly a third from $479 million in 2011, comScore says.

ComScore expects online retail spending to rise 17 percent to $43.4 billion through the whole holiday season. That is above the 15 percent increase last season and ahead of the retail industry's expectation for a 4.1 percent increase in overall spending this holiday.

The holiday shopping season is far from over. Today is Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year, and comScore figures sales for the day will top $1.5 billion.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Comcast Xfinity App Now Offers Offline Viewing

There certainly isn't a shortage of apps that allow for the streaming of movies and TV shows to your tablet or smartphone. But even with this plethora of applications there are relatively few that allow you to download content for offline viewing. Enter the newly updated Comcast Xfinity TV Player app for Android and Apple's iOS.

The new app allows Comcast Xfinity subscribers to not only stream TV Shows and movies from your favorite networks, including premium channels like HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax and cable channels like TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and BBC America but it now allows you to download movies and TV shows from Encore, MoviePlex, Showtime, and Starz for offline viewing (and yes you need to be subscribed to those premium channels in your cable package to be able to download content).

You'll have the choice between "medium" and "highest" quality resolution with the later being the best visual quality however at a much larger file size. The difference in file size is quit large. For instance to get "21 Jump Street" at highest quality you'll need 2.4GB of free space. However, the medium-quality version consumes just 478MB. Something to take into consideration when adding movies!

The Comcast Xfinity TV Player app works on Android phone or tablet running Android 2.3 and higher. On the iOS side, it works with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 4S, the third, fourth and fifth generation iPad touch devices, and iPads. The Xfinity TV Player version 1.2 requires Apple’s iOS 5.0 or later and is optimized for the iPhone 5.

Note that this is not the same app as the Xfinity TV app, so be sure you have the correct app installed before looking for downloads.

So far there has been no word from Comcast about the availability of downloadable content for other channels, though I suspect they will eventually add a few more. I know I'd like to see HBO on there so I can download Game of Thrones so I can fix going even when I'm on the go.

Microsoft Accidentally Activates Windows 8 Pro For Free

Christmas may have just come a little yearly for a few lucky software pirates as a glitch in Microsoft's Activation System is inadvertently fully activating pirated copies of Windows 8 Pro.

The flaw, first made public by Reddit user noveleven (Reddit has since removed the post)– shows that with just a bit of work, anyone can access a Microsoft-approved product key and activate a copy of Windows 8 Pro for free.

The glitch is found when users of partially activated version of Windows 8 visit the Microsoft add-on site to request a Windows 8 Media Center Pack license. Users simply need to supply an email address to be sent a free license meant to activate the new upgrade. However before sending out the new the Media Center keys the system doesn't check to see if the copy of Windows is legitimate or not. If users have a KMS-activated copy of Windows 8, with or without a legitimate license, the new Media Center key van be used to fully activate their systems.

The free upgrade to Windows Media Center only lasts until January 31, 2013, so the window is only open for a few more months for pirates to use the work around. Assuming that is that Microsoft doesn't close the holes before then.

I don't advocate pirating Windows in this way. Honestly it's cheap enough to upgrade that you might as well just go out and get a legitimate copy of Windows 8 if you really want o upgrade. This not only keeps you on the up and up but it gives you the option to re-install down the road if needed. This work around will only last on your system as long as you keep the same active install.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nintendo Wii U Reviews

Nintendo has launched the company's newest game platform the new Nintendo Wii U. Several of our favorite tech and gaming sites have got their hands on the new console and here are a few of the details and of course the reviews.

The Specs

  • IBM Power-based multi-core processor
  • 1.8 inches high, 10.6 inches deep and 6.75 inches long
  • AMD Radeon-based High Definition GPU
  • 8GB/32GB storage options
  • 1080p video output
  • Supports HDMI
  • Charging Stand
  • Wii U GamePad Controller (with 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen, button controls, two analog sticks, front-facing camera, sensor bar, rumble features, stylus and NFC functionality)
  • Supports Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Wii U Pro Controllers and Wii accessories like the Classic Controller, Wii Balance Board and Nunchuk
The Wii U was released on November 18, just in time for the holiday season. If you're looking to get the 8GB Basic Set, the price is $299.99. If you're up for an upgrade, the 32GB Deluxe Set is $349.99.

Nintendo Wii U Reviews


CNet: Packed with promise, Wii U still has a lot to prove
"Focusing solely on gaming, it's going to be tough to recommend the Wii U to anyone who already owns a PS3 or Xbox 360. A sizable chunk of the system's launch games are already or soon to be available on the aforementioned systems. Just like with the original Wii, first-party and exclusive titles are really where the Wii U needs to knock it out of the park in order to incentivize a console purchase.....Despite its unique dual-screen presentation, innovative GamePad controller, and ambitious Nintendo TVii service, the Wii U still has a lot to prove."

ArsTechnica: Wii U hardware review: Double the screens, double the fun?
"There are a lot of things I’d love to tell you about the Wii U. I’d love to tell you how the Miiverse social networking service lets you play games and exchange messages with friends. I’d love to tell you how the GamePad’s built-in camera works for video chatting with other Wii U owners all over the world. I’d love to tell you about the transfer process for content from your old Wii, or how the new system handles old Wii retail games, or how easy it is to expand the storage space with a USB hard drive, or what the sign-up process for the new Nintendo Network ID is like, or how functional the Web browser and free video apps are, or how the new eShop compares to other digital download services.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any of that. As of mid-day Saturday, mere hours from the system's North American launch, Nintendo had not yet pushed out a promised firmware update to activate all of these features (and maybe a few that I’m not aware of).

As a result, this first review of the Wii U is going to be necessarily incomplete."

Joystiq: Review: Nintendo Wii U
"The Wii U doesn't feel exactly like the "next generation." The menu interface feels like the Wii, and the graphics output by games are nothing that can't be done on the current generation of HD consoles. Furthermore, the troubles already apparent in the Wii U's online services point to Nintendo as usual, behind not just on networking in a conceptual way, but literally behind on its implementation of its own network.

However, the GamePad, even if it doesn't feel like the linear progression of game console technology we'd expect, does feel like a futuristic leap. It's rooted in classic experiences, but adds weird new possibilities. Nintendo has always excelled in taking unexpected steps, and this is one of them, even if it lacks the immediate "aha" appeal of the Wii Remote, or whatever it was people saw in holding the middle of the Nintendo 64 controller."

Kotaku: Wii U: The Kotaku Review
"Is it time for a gamer to get a Wii U? Is it a must-have?

Give it a month or three. Wait until the "launch window" closes at the end of March and the likes of Pikmin 3, Lego City Undercover and a slew of interesting download-only games are available. (If you'd like another take on the Wii U, check out the review on our sister site Gizmodo.)
With any new console you might be wisest to give it a year, especially if you want to be able to compare it to what Sony and Microsoft have coming next. And if they don't put screens in their controllers, know right now that Nintendo will have at least that excellent advantage over them."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amazon Kicks Off A Week Of Black Friday Lightning Deals

Amazon got a jump on Black Friday when they launched the Amazon Black Friday Store. Today the online retail giant kicked things into another gear when they started off their traditional week long lightning deals even.

Each day between now and November 24th Amazon will feature random lightning deals packed with savings on everything from TV's to clothes and shoes. Here are examples of some amazing deals that will be available at various times starting today through Black Friday weekend (www.amazon.com/blackfriday):
  • Samsung 40-Inch Smart LED HDTV, $448
  • Toshiba 40-Inch LCD TV, $179
  • Panasonic VIERA 55-Inch Smart 3D LED HDTV, $899
  • VIZIO 60-Inch Razor Smart LED HDTV, $688
  • Lenovo G585 15.6-Inch laptop, $199.99
  • Dell Inspiron i14z 14-Inch Ultrabook, $499.99
  • Canon EOS Rebel T2i digital SLR camera with multiple lenses, $699
  • Panasonic Lumix ZS20 high sensitivity digital camera with 20X optical zoom, $199
  • Fujifilm Finepix SL300 14MP digital camera with 30X optical zoom, $149.99
  • Xbox 360 250GB bundle with console, two games and one-month Xbox Live membership, $199
  • PS3 250GB bundle with console, two games and one-month PlayStation Plus membership, $199
  • 50% off select Melissa & Doug toys
  • Up to 60% off outerwear for men, women and kids
  • Fisher-Price Dora Fiesta Favorites Kitchen, $49.99
  • LEGO Duplo Legoville Deluxe Train Set, $74.99
  • Nest Learning Thermostat – 1st Generation, $198
  • Cuisinart CGG-200 all-foods portable outdoor tabletop propane gas grill, $135.99
  • Various Rosetta Stone language sets, $374
  • Up to 67% off popular movies and TV shows including The Hunger Games & The Lorax
  • Up to 60% off black diamond stud earrings
  • Skybar 3-Chamber Wine Preserving System, $499.99
  • Up to 70% off designer shoes
  • Mr. Coffee single-cup brewer, $49.99
  • Black & Decker 8-cup food processor, $17.99
  • Up to 60% off popular books including Life with Beatles

 “We’re offering customers our widest selection of Black Friday Lightning Deals ever and we’re bringing doorbuster deals to shoppers earlier this year,” said Ben Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Electronics for Amazon.com. “Customers should check our Black Friday Deals Store regularly to find a vast selection of great gifts at great prices. Plus, there is no need to stand in long lines, fight crowds, or brave the cold weather – shop from the convenience of home.”


Chase has joined Amazon in celebrating Black Friday Deals this holiday season. All year long, customers using the Amazon Rewards Visa Card from Chase can earn 3X points for purchases at Amazon.com. To learn more about the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, customers can visit www.amazon.com/rewards.

Appsfire Reports Apple Approved 1 millionth iOS App

Mobile app discovery and promotion service Appsfire is reporting today that Apple's App store has reached another major milestone by approving it's 1 millionth app. The reports haven't been confirmed as of yet by Apple, and the number doesn't represent the total number of apps available, rather this is what Appsfire is calling the number of apps approved over the life of the App Store.

The Next Web was first to report on the Appsfire findings after the company revealed the findings on its Twitter account.

Ouriel Ohayon, co-founder of Appsfire, provided some details of how the breakdown of the numbers. Of the one million app submissions since 2008, 493,289 were paid and 158,848 were games. Of the 736,247 apps that are currently live 336,270 are paid (around 45 percent), while 120,065 are games (around 16 percent).

It's highly unlikely that Apple will publicly confirm these numbers as the company generally only focuses on the number of available apps that are currently in the App Store. Apple recently announced that the App Store application count had grown beyond 700,000 live apps at its iPad mini launch event but has not shared an updated figure since.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini Stepping Down

intel logoIntel has announced that the company’s president and CEO, Paul Otellini, has decided to retire as the acting officer and director of the company at an annual stockholders’ meeting in May, starting what Intel is calling an orderly leadership transition over the next six months. Otellini’s decision to retire marks the close a remarkable career of nearly 40 years of continuous service with Intel.

“Paul Otellini has been a very strong leader, only the fifth CEO in the company’s great 45-year history, and one who has managed the company through challenging times and market transitions,” said Andy Bryant, chairman of the board. “The board is grateful for his innumerable contributions to the company and his distinguished tenure as CEO over the last eight years.”

“I’ve been privileged to lead one of the world’s greatest companies,” Otellini said. “After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it’s time to move on and transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with Andy, the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO.”

Highlights of Otellini's tenure as Intel's CEO 
During Otellini’s tenure as CEO -- from the second quarter of 2005 through the third quarter of 2012 -- Intel:
  • Generated cash from operations of $107 billion
  • Made $23.5 billion in dividend payments
  • Increased the quarterly dividend 181 percent from $0.08 to $0.225

From the end of 2005 through the end of 2011, Intel achieved record revenue and net income. During this period, annual revenue grew from $38.8 billion to $54 billion, while annual earnings-per-share grew from $1.40 to $2.39.

In addition to financial performance, Intel, under Otellini’s leadership, achieved notable successes in areas of strategic importance. During this period, the company:
  • Transformed operations and the cost structure for long-term growth
  • Achieved breakthrough innovations, including High-K/Metal gate and now 3-D Tri-gate transistors; and dramatic improvement in energy efficiency of Intel processors
  • Reinvented the PC with Ultrabook devices
  • Greatly expanded business partnerships and made strategic acquisitions that expanded Intel’s presence in security, software and mobile communications
  • Delivered the first smartphones and tablets for sale with Intel inside
  • Grew the vast network of cloud-based computing built on Intel products

Source: Intel Pressroom

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Which UK Mobile Phone Companies Offer The Best Phone Tariffs?

Finding the mobile phone carriers that offer the best mobile phone tariffs can be a bit confusing due largely in part to the huge amount of competing networks, manufacturers and distributors. The mobile phones market is saturated with consumer choice and offers can differ hugely from one network to the next and whether you choose to buy online or through a high street store.

For some buyers, a ‘SIM only’ deal may be best suited. This is a simple deal which many consumers fail to take up and you may find that you get a very comprehensive package for a fraction of the cost – because as customers you won’t receive new mobile phones.

Most of your current contract bill covers the cost of your phone so may easily add an extra £10 a month on your tariff. If you have a phone you quite like, why not keep it and take on a SIM only package. Similarly if you can find you can buy a cheap phone you can then provide the SIM and contract yourself. Phones4U have some excellent SIM only deals or you can find them directly through the networks.

A £10.50 a month, 12 month SIM only plan from Vodafone could get you 300 minutes, 500MB data and unlimited texts – this kind of scheme would cost you way more if you included the phone.

A SIM only deal with T-Mobile can cost as little as £8 a month and for that you would get a 12 month contract with 300mins talk time, 5,000 texts and for an extra £2 a month you get 250MB data. If you don’t use the net much this deal without the add-on can be a good option.

Three Mobile has one of the most interesting SIM only deals. They advertise that for £25 a month on a rolling contract you can get 2,000 minutes, 5,000 texts and unlimited data. If you have a good phone already all you can eat data combined with the generous minutes and texts allowances equates to a very good deal.

If you’re looking for the full mobile phone and contract package internet suppliers like dial-a-phone have some good deals on the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 which some of the high street stores may struggle to match.

Whichever route you decide to go you should always make sure to shop around and weight your options. Sometimes just because that deal looks like a great bargain up front it won't mean that it's going to be the best option over the long run.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Facebook Launches New Jobs Board

The world's largest social media site has launched a new platform aimed at helping its users find jobs. launching an app to help users find jobs. That's right Facebook today launched a new job-board application, powered by job listings from Monster.com, Work4Labs, BranchOut and the DirectEmployers Association which already features more than 1.7 million listings.

facebook jobs app

The new app page allows visitors to search through jobs by keyword, location or through various categories such as Administrative/Clerical, Food Services/Hospitality or for those geeks out there IT/Software Development and Science/Engineering/R&D. Result are sorted according to each service they are listed on and provide a [very] brief job description.

"Today's launch of the Social Jobs Application highlights what we've known all along -- that both recruiters and job seekers benefit when jobs are posted where candidates spend their time, and research overwhelmingly tells us that this is on Facebook," Stephane Le Viet, CEO of Work4Labs, said in a press release. "Undoubtedly, there will be an acceleration of the shift to social media as the primary channel to find a job with the extraordinary push of this consortium. We are fully committed to making the Social Jobs Application on Facebook the best possible resource for connecting candidates and companies."

Work4 Labs said it's posted 2.2 million jobs to Facebook via their various page in the last 18 months because "that's where potential employees are." Fifty percent of employers use Facebook in their hiring process, according to a Social Jobs Partnership survey

The new service is clearly aimed at directly at LinkedIn which dubs itself the "World's Largest Professional Network." As of now it doesn't appear as though Facebook is making money directly off this application, so this doesn't mean the company is getting into the jobs listing business just yet. Still, LinkedIn has cause to be worried. The new app, and the partnership arrangement, highlights how much Facebook is at the core of social jobs recruiting.

Skype Quickly Fixes Password Reset Vulnerability

Skype has moved rather quickly to mitigate a recently publicized flaw in the way the service handled password reset requests that allowed would be hackers easy access to a users Skype account.

A security vulnerability that has been verified by Skype earlier today, allowed someone to gain easy access to almost any Skype account simply by knowing their current email address. They could then use the same e-mail address as that of the intended victim to create a duplicate account and use the password reset form to reset the password for all accounts associated with that address, thereby locking out the original account owner from Skype.

As a preventative measure, Skype took quick action temporarily disabling its password reset page. However according to its latest blog post the company has already managed to resolve the security hole not long after verifying the flaw:
Early this morning we were notified of user concerns surrounding the security of the password reset feature on our website. This issue affected some users where multiple Skype accounts were registered to the same email address. We suspended the password reset feature temporarily this morning as a precaution and have made updates to the password reset process today so that it is now working properly. We are reaching out to a small number of users who may have been impacted to assist as necessary. Skype is committed to providing a safe and secure communications experience to our users and we apologize for the inconvenience.
So far there have been no reports of any kind indicating that Skype users would need to change their current passwords. But those that might be concerned can now do so using the password reset page accessible from their account profile.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

iPhones May Soon Be Assembled By Robots

The public out outcry Apple and Foxconn have faced over the working conditions Chinese workers face, which included complaints over working conditions, rumored riots, and even suicides, may soon come to an end as report suggest that Foxconn might do away with the 'human factor' all together.

TechCrunch, via Singularity Hub, is reporting that Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace some (if not all) of their 1.2 million human workers. According to the report Foxconn’s President Terry Gou already had plans in place aiming at replacing more than 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within the next 3 years but those plans hadn't been put into motion until now.

Reportedly the first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have been installed into at least one of the company's factory, and by the end of 2012, another 20,000 more are planned to be installed.

Details in the report are a bit sparse. Apparently Foxconn is building the robots in house so information on their capabilities is fairly limited. It is speculated that the FoxBots that have been installed were designed for simple, yet precise repetitive actions common for simple manufacturing robots (lifting, selecting, placement). This means they may be well suited for assembly of things like your iPhone or iPad.

According to a translated page from the Chinese site Techweb, each robot costs between $20,000 to $25,000, which is over three times the average salary of one worker. However, amid international pressure, Foxconn continues to increase worker salaries with a 25 percent bump occurring earlier this year.

Given the bad PR Foxconn has received along with Apple reportedly complaining of productions issues with some of their plants it’ll be interesting to see where this goes and what the worldwide response is. Certainly there will be those who worry that the influx of robots an automation will have the similar negative impact in manufacturing jobs we've seen elsewhere. But there will undoubtely be those that think this move will greatly improve woeking conditions for the remaining human workforce.

Internet Explorer 10 Preview For Windows 7 Now Available

Microsoft has officially released the "Preview Version" of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7. This latest version of Microsoft's web browser made its debut with the Windows 8 consumer preview and later in the full blown releases of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

For the most part Windows 7 users won't see much of a difference between IE10 and IE9. Microsoft hasn't done much to change the UI and most of the significant changes were targeted mainly for the "metro" styling and touch friendliness of Windows 8. Some of the significant changes are largely about performance improvements and security rather than big features. The browser has support for more standards-based features, such as 3D transforms, transitions and animations in CSS, and HTML5 spell-checking. Microsoft has also worked on improving JavaScript performance.

Internet Explorer 10 adds more security with Do Not Track enabled by default and full support for HTML5 Sandbox technology. This feature allows developers and users to lock out specific attributes. Another main feature is an optional “Enhanced Protected Mode,” which completely locks down parts of the operating system that the browser typically doesn't need to access. For instance, with this protected mode enabled, the browser can't access your Documents folder unless you're performing a specific action, such as choosing a file through Explorer dialog. The idea is to keep documents safe even if an attacker has exploited a vulnerability in the browser or an add-on. This feature can be enabled through Internet Options > Advanced > “Enabled Enhanced Protected Mode.”

The Internet Explorer 10 Preview comes in both 32 and 64 bit variants and can be downloaded at the following links: 32-bit IE 10 Windows 7 and 64-bit IE 10 for Windows 7.

Microsoft is not providing a date as to when it expects to release the final version of IE10 for Windows 7. It's also not known if there will be additional preview builds before the final is out. Company officials say all of this will be determined by customer feedback.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Security Researchers Warn Of Christmas Related Scams And Malware

Security researchers are warning online users that scammers and cybercriminals have ramped up the number of emails, text messages and social media posts used to spread scams and malware during the holiday season.

McAfee has issued it's 2012 edition of its 12 scams of Christmas list which features several approaches that aren't entirely new, but are rather new versions of some of the same old scams. These include social media scams utilizing channels, like Facebook and Twitter, malicious mobile apps, traditional phishing emails and even a new approach to instant messaging scam that targets Skype users.

As social media has grown so to have the numbers of scams targeting users. McAfee warns that users of Facebook and Twitter need to be extra cautious when liking Fan Pages, clicking on fake alerts from friends’ accounts that have been hacked, taking advantage of raffle’s, ads and deals that you get from “friends,” or installing suspicious “holiday deal” apps. Fake fan pages and app can be used to give your private data away or even target you for more dubious phishing attacks.

Smartphone are also a growing segment being targeted by scammers. Malicious Mobile Apps are becoming more prevalent as smartphone users are becoming more app crazy. To date there have been over 25 billion apps downloaded for Android devices alone! But as the popularity of applications have grown, so have the chances that you could download a malicious application designed to steal your information or even send out premium-rate text messages without your knowledge. Consider this: A recent study found that 33% of apps ask for more information than they need, such as access to your contacts or location.

Apps alone aren't the only risk smartphone users face. “SMiSishing” or phishing via text message is just like its email counterpart. Scammers send out official sounding/looking SMS Text messages to temp victims to reveal information or performing an action you normally wouldn’t do. This could be anything from logging into a fake account to verifying personal details and information.

Security researchers from Symantec are warning about a flood of the traditional email phishing scam "You Have Received a Christmas Card". A large number of emails have been intercepted by the security firm that follow the traditional greeting card scam that uses a legitimate looking "You Have Received a Christmas Card" email to trick users into download a malicious file for visit a malicious site.

These E-Cards type scams are nothing new having gained popularity several years back when E-Cards became a popular way to send a quick “thank you” or holiday greeting. While most e-cards are safe, some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto your computer once you click on the link to view the greeting. Others ask you to click on an attachment to view the card, and then download a Trojan onto your machine. Users need to stay vigilant and pay close attention to the links contained in the email and the "from" line to make sure it is actually from a known source.


Tip: How to Protect Yourself Against Scams During the Holidays

  1. Stay suspicious—Be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true, and always look for telltale signs that an email or website may not be legitimate, such as low resolution images, misspellings, poor grammar, or odd links.
  2. Practice safe surfing—Find out if a website is potentially dangerous before you click on it by using a safe search plug-in such as McAfee SiteAdvisor. SiteAdvisor uses easy-to-read red, yellow, and green check marks to rate websites when you search for them.
  3. Practice safe shopping—Stick to reputable e-commerce sites and look for a trustmark that indicates that the site has been verified as safe by a trusted third-party, like the McAfee SECURE™ mark. Also, look for a lock symbol and  “https” at the beginning of the web address (as opposed to just “http”) to see if the site uses encryption to protect your data.
  4. Use strong passwords— Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long and contain a variety of letters, numbers and characters that don’t spell anything. Avoid using the same password for your important accounts, and never share your passwords with anyone.
  5. Be careful when clicking—Don’t click on any links in messages from people you don’t know, and if you come across a shortened URL, use a URL expander to see where the link is directed to before you click.
  6. Use a comprehensive computer security— You need complete protection that includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and a firewall and make sure it is up to date. Online security and safety protection, such as McAfee All Access, can help protect all of your devices – PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets – from holiday-related malware, phishing, spyware, and other common and emerging threats.
  7. Educate yourself— Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use so you can avoid potential attacks. You can find helpful information on the McAfee Blog and the McAfee Advice Center.

Acer Releases New $199 Google Chromebook

When Google unveiled a new version of their Chrome OS earlier this year they also announced a partnership with vendors Samsung and Acer to release Chome OS based Chromebooks. Netbook like laptops that feature Google's in-house designed operating system. Today we get a glimpse at the latest offering from that paring, the new Acer C7 Chromebook.

acer C7 Chromebook

The new Acer C7 Chromebook features an 11.6-inch 1366x768 display and full-size keyboard all packed into a 1 inch thin – 3 lbs / 1.4 kg body. You get and an Intel Celeron 847 processor (2MB L3 cache, 1.10GHz, DDR3 1333 MHz), 2GB of DDR3 memory, 320GB hard drive and 100GB of free storage on Google Drive. Acer claims you get 3.5 hours of battery life, which isn't awesome but its manageable. Other features include Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Ethernet, 1.3 MP HD Camera, 3x USB 2.0 ports and for display purposes 1x HDMI Port and 1x VGA port.

The C7 is available for $199 starting tomorrow in the Google Play store, at Best Buy stores and on BestBuy.com.

Source: Official Google Blog: The new Acer Chromebook

Sophos Security Apps Can Improve Android Security For Free

The following is a guest post by Beth Janick an Android tech expert at http://www.android-spy-apps.com/. Whether it's the latest tweaks or the most important updates on the best Android software Beth has the Android OS at the tip of her fingers. Her work as has brought her a flock of dedicated readers and today she shares some insight into Android Security Software.



In 2011, security firms identified nearly 3000 different kinds of Android spyware threats, including mobile spy software programs specifically designed to target Android handsets. Today, in the final quarter of 2012, the number has increased to over 13,000 different kinds of Android spyware problems. This radical increase in mobile spy software threats, and the many ways in which they can harm the average user is something the users are unaware of.
According to market surveys it has been found that Android devices account to 69 percent of the smartphone industry. To counter this issue there has been an increase in security app development. However, the increase in security apps is not even close to being that large. It can barely be called a proportionate increase, but since there are so many free security solutions which users can adopt, it is something everyone can benefit from.

Security firms at work

The security firm Sophos has launched two new security apps that users can download for free. The first is the most up to date version of Sophos Mobile Security and alongside it is the new Sophos Mobile Encryption app. Both the applications can be downloaded from Google Play free of cost. The first, Sophos Mobile Security app is designed to perform the functions of a good quality security application. It safe guards users’ devices from security threats, privacy invading malware and data thieves.

More so this app also works hand in hand with another one of Sophos security apps’, Sophos Safeguard Enterprise. With the mobile security app from Sophos it is possible for employees of an organization to access corporate data and company files stored on the cloud in a safer manner. Not only can employees trying to access company data benefit from this, but this can be beneficial for other users too. Cloud based storage services such as Drop Box are growing in popularity as small scale businesses can also make use of them. For these enterprises it is even more important to make sure that the place where their data is stored and the path which someone takes to access it is safe.

The security apps developed by Sophos have one main benefit to the user and that is their lightweight nature. These security apps will not drain the devices’ battery nor do they hinder the phones’ performance as much as other security apps. However, the new updated version also offers some additional features which are generally only found on more expensive, subscription based security apps. These include scheduling the app for automatic scans and most importantly anti theft features.

Also these are not standard anti theft tools, but offer some very interesting features. For instance you can preset a list or number of contacts in to the app, so in the case that your phone goes missing you can send remote commands to the device from these associated devices. If you have misplaced your phone somewhere around the house or left it at work, you can send a command to the phone to make it sound a loud alarm, making it much easier to find. Or you could send a message to the device to inform who ever finds it about how to return it, and if you think there is no chance of recovery you can simply wipe all data on the phone so that none of your information can be misused or accessed by someone else.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Apple: A Shift in Strategy

In many ways, Apple is under threat from Android. Because of the diversity of available Android devices, Apple is increasingly finding itself losing market share. However, Apple still competes strongly in the area where the most profit is found: high-end devices. Will Android cause Apple to reconsider?

Apple may have tipped their hand with the recent announcement of the iPad Mini. Steve Jobs had claimed that the iPad's large size was perfect for consumers, but a slew of 7-inch Android tablets seemed to challenge this notion. In response, Apple's iPad Mini will boast a 7.9-inch screen.
However, Apple's prices have not yet dropped to Android's level. While 7-inch Android tablets start at $199, the iPad Mini will sell at $329. Apple has long sold their products at high margins, and it appears that they want to continue. The question remains, however: Will Apple be able to sustain their high markup?

Apple Infographic


Source: BestMastersPrograms.org

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Black Friday 2012 Ad Scans Now Available

Black Friday is right around the corner and many of our favorite deal sites have been busy tracking down the latest leaked ads for your viewing please. Below you'll finds links to some of the best Black Friday 2012 resources around. If you have other suggestions please feel free to let us know and we'll get them added.

SlickDeals Black Friday 2012:

Fat Wallet Black Friday 2012:

Black Friday 2012 Ads at BFAds.Net:

Stores with official Black Friday pages:

Amazon Wants To Be Your Wine Sommelier

What geek doesn't love a great bottle of wine? Well thanks to a new service from Amazon you now have a new option for ordering your favorite wines from home. The online retailer announced a new online wine marketplace today featuring more than 1,000 wines from wineries in the United States, including Francis Ford Coppola, Hall, Mark Ryan, Eden Canyon, Pepper Bridge and Roadhouse.



“Whether it’s helping customers find a favorite varietal, shop for holiday pairings or expand their cellar with a special hand-crafted bottle, we’re excited to provide the right tools and information needed to guide them to the perfect wine,” said Peter Faricy, Vice President, Amazon Marketplace. “We’re thrilled for wineries around the country to share their great collections of wines with our customers through the Amazon Wine Store.”

Of course there will be some restrictions for shipping and ordering.

Both the purchaser and the recipient of the wine must be at least 21 years of age, and all shipments require an adult signature at delivery. The shipment won't be delivered if some over the age of 21 isn’t available to sign. Shipping will currently be limited to California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, with more states said to be added soon. State regulations governing the sale and delivery of alcohol across U.S. state borders will also be honored so there might be a few other hurdles to face.

Amazon says it will ship up to six bottles of your favorite wine for $9.99. Pricing on bottles varies greatly, but Amazon has a pretty decent selection of great wines ranging from $6 for a Barefoot Cellars varietal to over $30,000 for a 2003 Ausone 6 L Imperial.

Customers can learn about the wine’s American Viticultural Area (AVA), composition, percentage of alcohol and much more. In addition, product pages feature robust details directly from winemakers, including tasting notes, food pairing suggestions and total case production. For example, winemaker Jean-Fran├žois Pellet of Pepper Bridge Winery provides a detailed description for customers interested in the Pepper Bridge Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. He describes it as “broad and supple” with classic Cabernet Sauvignon characteristics of dark fruits intertwine harmoniously with savory, earthy notes of cocoa, coffee, clove and toast. To experience more flavors, Pellet suggests pairing it with beef, lamb or chocolate.

When customers shop on Amazon Wine, they can narrow search results to meet their personal tastes, enabling them to discover new wines and find long-time favorites. For instance, customers can select multiple filters such as “90 & Up” for Professional Rating, “Cherry” for Tasting Note, and “Sierra Foothills” for Winery Location.

For more details checkout www.amazon.com/wine

Twitter Mistakenly Resets Untold Number Of Passwords

Earlier today several Twitter accounts had their passwords reset and an email was erroneous sent to the users prompting them to change their passwords immediately.

"Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We've reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account," read an email with a timestamp of around 2:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

According to the official statement on the Official Twitter Status page this email was sent in error and those users might not actually have been affected.
We’re committed to keeping Twitter a safe and open community. As part of that commitment, in instances when we believe an account may have been compromised, we reset the password and send an email letting the account owner know this has happened along with information about creating a new password. This is a routine part of our processes to protect our users.

In this case, we unintentionally reset passwords of a larger number of accounts, beyond those that we believed to have been compromised. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.

As always, we recommend that people review these tips on how to keep their Twitter accounts secure: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76036-keeping-your-account-secure#

Even still users that had received the email will need to update their passwords, and just in case anyone else that is concerned that this might not have been in error should do so as well. It is always good practice to change your passwords on a regular basis just in case. Just make sure you follow some of the practices outlined in our recent post Top 10 Worst Passwords of 2012.