Friday, August 31, 2012

New Phishing Scams Target Apple Users

Threads have popped up over on the Apple Support forums detailing new phishing scams aimed directly at Apple owners and iTunes users. In a multitude of individual threads forum members have posted information about at least three attempts to scam them out of their Apple ID or get them to visit malware infected links or site.

 In one post a user shows a fake receipt for iTunes charges which offers several links including a download link. The link then leads off to a malicious site. In other postings users posts fake emails claiming the "users account has been temporarily blocked." A third posting shows a rather realistic looking Apple Care email as well as a few follow-up emails offering information about OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion or claiming that iTunes will be shut down.

MacMall, Everyday Low Prices on All Your Favorite Apple Products
In this case it is fairly easy to spot the scam as the email comes from a Gmail account or asks the user to reply to the Gmail account. However, should the recipient click one of the links contained in the email they are likely sent to a fake landing page which would ask for your Apple ID and password.

In the cases pertaining to emails telling the users their accounts had been blocked the e-mails provided a “Confirm Your Identity” button or link, which, of course, leads you to a phishing site. The malicious site will either ask you for your Apple ID or attempt to load malware on your machine. Most companies, including Apple, will not send you "account blocked" emails and if they do you should check the email closely for discrepancies. I always prefer to visit the sites directly to verify that I need to re-instate my account. In this case an Apple user can simply head over to Apple’s My Apple ID site, where you can login, reset your password, and check that your credentials are safe and sound.

Phishing is not something new to the online community and certainly not something new to Apple. But phishing attacks have become big business and scammers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. If you receive an email from Apple or iTunes (or any other site for that matter) you should be very wary of the links provided. Legitimate emails from legitimate companies will never ask you to provide personal information or sensitive account information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) via email.

For more help determining the validity of those Apple emails checkout Apple's support page "Identifying legitimate emails from the iTunes Store."

Apple, Publishers Make An Offer To Settle Over E-Book Price Fixing In The UK

Apple along with publishers Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Livre, Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck have faced broad scrutiny over claims of e-Book price fixing and the possibility of collusion. Regulators in both the US and UK have opened investigation into the company's practices, an investigation that has lead several of the publishers to reach a settlement with US authorities. Apple however, has continued the fight with US authorities claiming no wrong doing.! Best quality products at the lowest price, Always!Now after a 10 month investigation by the European Union (EU) it looks like Apple and at least four of the publishers are willing to make some concessions. Apple and the four publishers reportedly have made an offer to avoid further investigation, penalties and potentially keep them out of court.

The offer was to allow Amazon and other retailers to sell e-books at a discount for two years. The Commission is now looking into whether these concessions are enough by taking opinions from the industry.

The four publishers had an exclusivity deal with Apple that let the company sell e-books in iTunes, but stopped other retailers from selling the same books at a lower price. Apple persuaded publishers to adopt an "agency model" in 2010 under which they set the price of e-books and Apple took a 30 percent cut. This differed from Amazon's "wholesale model" in which retailers pay a fixed price for a product and then charge what they like, essentially letting demand dictate the price and allowing the retailers to charge a lower price to make as much or as little profit as they see fit.

This move comes as a bit of a surprise by Apple as the company has refused to settle with authorities the US. Apple said this week in a legal memo regarding the US investigation that "it denies the allegations against it and is actively defending this case."

New Java Update Released To Fix Recently Publicized Flaws

Oracle has released an emergency patch to fix a highly publicized vulnerability in Java 7. The flaw, which we first reported on earlier this week, affected all versions of Java 7 on all browser and operating systems.

The new patch is Java 7.7 which, according to the advisory, corrects three critical vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may be remotely exploitable without authentication, i.e., they may be exploited over a network without the need for a username and password. To be successfully exploited, an unsuspecting user running an affected release in a browser will need to visit a malicious web page that leverages this vulnerability. Successful exploits can impact the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of the user's system.

Java 7 Update 7 is now available to download for Windows (32- and 64-bit), Linux (32- and 64-bit), Mac OS X (64-bit), Solaris x86 (32- and 64-bit) and Solaris SPARC (32- and 64-bit). JDKs with the updated Java runtimes are also available. Users with Java installed on their systems, whatever operating system, should install the updates as soon as possible because malicious software that uses the vulnerability is already in circulation.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Windows Based Convertible Laptop-Tablet Hybrids Debuting At IFA 2012

The 2012 IFA consumer electronics show is under way in Berlin, Germany with several top companies showing up to showcase their latest and greatest tech hardware. We only have a few more months before the official launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT, so it was expected that many of the major PC players would have next-generation Windows equipped hardware on display. And so far they have not disappointed!

So far this year we've seen an incredible influx of Windows based devices as many manufactures are looking to cash in on not only the expected release of Windows 8 and Windows RT but the largely successful tablet market. We are seeing a strong push for Windows based tablets, mainly convertibles or hybrids whichever label you prefer to slap on the laptop-tablet combination. Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba all had models on display.

Looking to build on the strong foundation that the ASUS Transformer and Transformer Prime have laid down Asus showcased a pair of Vivo Tab models. The first is running Windows 8 with a dual-core Intel Atom processor and the other is coupled with Windows RT and a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip. Not only do the two Asus offering offer a detachable keyboard dock but they also offer a pressure-sensitive stylus which would be perfect for note-taking and sketching. The Vivo Tab offers an 11.6-inch display while the Vivo Tab RT measures 10.1 inches. It’s also the thinnest and lightest of the bunch, measuring just 8.3mm thin and weighing 520g. (more details via Asus)

Dell’s offering comes int he form of the new XPS Duo 12 and XPS 10. The XPS 10 will run an ARM SoC and Windows RT. The XPS Duo 12 (which actually measures 12.5 inches on its display’s diagonal) will run Windows 8 and an unspecified Intel chip. Unlike most of the other models shown the Dell XPS Duo 12 is more of a clamshell laptop and a tablet in one. It offers a swiveling screen rather than the detachable keyboard. The XPS sticks with a more conventional design with the traditional tablet look and feel as well as a more traditional keyboard dock. (more details via Dell)

Dell XPS Duo 12

Looking to re-enter the tablet market after the much maligned HP Touchpad, HP has introduced the company's first Windows 8 hybrid the new HP Envy X2. The Envy X2 is powered by an Intel System-on-Chip (aka SOC) Atom based processor, features and 11.6-inch screen with 64GB of internal storage, microSD expansion, NFC support, and, of course, integrated Beats Audio. Its detachable keyboard also incorporates a giant powerpack, and it should comfortably provide all-day battery life. HP has also made sure that the dock won’t accidentally dislodge by building in a mechanical latch to supplement a pair of strong magnets. (more details via HP)

HP Envy X2

Samsung introduced the new Windows RT based ATIV Tab  which features a 10.1-inch display, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM, either 32 or 64 GBs of internal storage and a microSD slot for expansion. For those looking for the full Windows 8 experience as well as the option of a keyboard Samsung also revealed the Samsung ATIV SmartPC and the ATIV SmartPC Pro. Both feature an 11.6-inch HD display, S Pen integration, and a 60-day free trial of Microsoft Office, but the Pro packs a much more powerful platform. While the SmartPC boasts a 1366-by-768 display, 2GB of RAM, and a next-gen Intel Atom processor, the SmartPC Pro offers up a 1920-by-1080 display, 4GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i5 chip. (more details via Samsung)

Sony has opted to take its own approach the a "hybrid" laptop tablet combo with a slider type device it is calling the Sony Vaio Duo 11. You can either use it as a tablet or slide back the display up at an angle locking it in place to make use of the hidden keys. Sony has decided to pack the Vaio Duo with tons of fire power giving consumers  the choice of processor with options ranging from a Core i3 all the way up to an i7, up to 256GB of SSD storage, 1080P displays, NFC, GPS, HD-ready cameras, and stylus input. (more details via Sony)

Toshiba’s taking a similar approaching with the Satellite U920T slider. It’s matching the XPS Duo with a 12.5-inch screen, and options will include Core i3 or i5 processors and SSD storage up to 256GB. You’ll also get an HDMI port and SD card expansion with the U920T.


With all these devices coming down the line one thing is for certain, consumers are going to have a ton of choices and some tough decisions to make. I'm personally not a big fan of Windows 8 on a desktop, but some of these convertible tablets look amazing. In fact they are just what I've been looking for for the past couple of years. You get the portability and ease of use of a tablet along with the productivity of a full fledged laptop.

It looks like I might have to pony up some of that hard earned cash and join the portable revolution!

e-Book Owners Due A Refund As Publishers Reach $69 Million Settlement

If you've bought e-books in the past you might be due a refund on the purchase price. Three top e-book publishers have reached an antitrust settlement with the attorneys generals of 54 U.S. states, districts and territories. Under the settlement they have agreed to pay more than $69 million, most of which will be refunded to customers.

Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster have all agreed to pay more than $69 million to U.S. states to settle charges they collaborated to fix prices of e-books. According to the agreement the three publishers also agreed to pay more than &7.5 million dollars to cover the goverments court cost and they publishers agreed to change the way they price e-books going forward. A move which should result in slightly lower prices for some consumers.

The same three publishers agreed to settle a U.S. Department of Justice e-book pricing-fixing case in April, in a case that Apple and publishers Penguin Group and MacMillan are still fighting. Apple and the remaining publishers deny that any conspiracy took place and claim that Apple and each publisher independently arrived at the same terms. The group further argues that they did only what they thought was necessary to break an Amazon monopoly on the e-book market.

The attorney general filed a civil antitrust case Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the five publishers. The lawsuit accused the five publishers of conspiring and agreeing "to increase retail e-book prices for all consumers."

State and federal prosecutors, however, were not convinced that Amazon’s alleged monopoly could justify the defendants’ actions and they are pressing their case against the remaining companies (U.S. v. Apple, 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York [Manhattan]).

“Unlawful collusion and price-fixing not only violates antitrust laws, it is anti-competitive and inconsistent with the free market approach that is critical to our economy,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a written statement. “Today’s settlements provide refunds to customers who paid artificially inflated prices for e-books.”

A representative of Simon & Schuster called the settlement "fair."

"We're pleased to now have put this matter behind us, and moving forward, to continue our work with authors and accounts to grow the market for books of all formats -- and to take advantage of the many opportunities afforded us by publishing in the digital era," he said.

Reimbursements range from 25 cents to $1.32 per book, and payments are scheduled to begin 30 days after final court approval of the settlement.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Exploit Hits Java On All Operating Systems and Browsers

A new Java zero-day vulnerability has been detected that allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on a client systems and several attacks have already been spotted in the wild. Prompting security researchers to warn users they might want to disable, or completely remove Java from their machine.

The vulnerability is found in the latest version of Java 7, which most of your updated machines should be running. At this time it is believed that the exploit only works against Windows based machines. However, researchers say that the exploit could just as easily be used to attack machines running Linux or Mac OS X, given the appropriate payload.

All browsers running on these systems were found to be vulnerable if they had the Java plugin installed, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.

Security vendor Rapid 7 has set up a site that will detect the version of Java that is running in the user's browser and tell her whether it contains the newly discovered Java vulnerability.  If the site detects the Java plugin on your specific browser it will prompt you to disable it. It should be noted that you might want to test it with all the browsers you have installed, just in case.

Oracle has not released an official statements on the new Java flaw, but unfortunately the next scheduled patch release is not until mid-October. Since Oracle does not release emergency patches that often the best course of action right now is to disable Java in any browser that you use regularly.

How to disable Java in Google Chrome:

  • Go to the wrench in the upper right corner of the browser window
  • Click on settings and search for Java in the search box
  • Click on the highlighted Content Settings button and then scroll down to the Plug-ins entry
  • Select Disable Individual Plugins and then click on Disable Java

How to disable Java in Mozilla Firefox:

  • Click on the Firefox tab in the top left corner and then click Add-ons
  • Select Plug-ins and then click Disable on Java

How to disable Java in Safari:

  • Click Preferences, and then the Security tab (uncheck “Enable Java”)

How to disable Java in Opera

  • Enter about:config in the address bar
  • Click the Java heading to expand that section, un-check the checkbox, and click the Save button

How to disable Java in Internet Explorer

Unfortunately for Internet Explorer users disabling Java seems to be much more complex. The U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (USCERT) lists these steps which may or may not completely remove Java from IE. There is also a simple setting that should disable Java for IE and Firefox at the same time:

  • Open Control Panel and launch the Java applet. If you don't see it, switch to Classic View (in XP) or small icons (in Windows 7 or Vista).
  • Click the Advanced tab and expand the item titled Default Java for browsers.
  • Un-check the boxes for Microsoft Internet Explorer and for Mozilla family. You may need to click the item and press spacebar in order to clear the checkmarks.
  • Click OK and you're done.
**Update: The above steps may or may not work for you. I could not get the setting to save no matter what I did!

Once you've followed these steps to be sure you've succeeded, visit the Java test page at from each of the browsers you use.

Personally I rarely use Java, so I suggest completely un-installing it from your machines. Oracle may or may not release an emergency patch. But even if they don't I can do without it for a few months.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Get $500 of Mac Software For Only $50

Mac fans looking for software bargains might want to take note. Cult of Mac is offering the 10-app Mac Hype Bundle with a combined value of $500 for just $50.

The bundle includes the following programs:
  • iTaskX ($115) - increase your productivity.
  • MacFamilyTree ($59) - advanced genealogy for your Mac.
  • Data Recovery Guru ($99) - don't lose it, guru it.
  • Hype ($50) - easily create and animate using HTML5.
  • PDF Nomad ($40) - a versatile PDF editor.
  • MacJournal ($40) - capture life with your MacJournal.
  • DiskAid ($25) - quickly transfer files between your Mac and iOS.
  • AppFresh ($15) - manage all of your updates for all your Mac OS apps.
  • Playback ($15) - stream all of your media to your Xbox 360 or PS3.
  • CleanApp ($15) - clean your Mac.
There's also a "bonus" 11th app: FX Photo Studio Pro, for adding photo effects to your images. It's worth $40.

The Mac Hype Bundle will be available for the next nine days. Cult of Mac doesn't provide details on compatibility for each of the apps, so make sure you check with each of the software vendors to know whether or not they'll work with your installed version of Mac OS. Also, the bundle is sold as-is, without a refund option, so make sure you do your homework before buying.

Apple Wants 8 Samsung Devices Banned, Samsung Wants 1 Reinstated

Fresh off its major victory over Samsung, Apple has submitted a list of eight Samsung products it wants pulled from shelves and banned from the U.S. market. In a reversal of fortune of sorts, Samsung has asked that the ban at least one of its previously banned products be removed.

The products Apple is seeking an injunction against are: Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail.

The sole product Samsung wants reinstated is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The two companies have been locked in a major patent battle that culminated late last week when Apple was awarded a $1 billion judgement against Samsung. Several of Samsung products we found to be infringing upon some of Apple's patents.The eight products listed are only a handful of the products Apple could have sought a ban on, however most of the rest of the products are no longer on sale in the US or are less likely to be seen as a threat to Apple's sales.

In the mean time the jury found that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (4G, they found against the WiFi version) did not infringe upon any of Apple's patents. Immediately prompting Samsung to ask the federal courts to remove a prior ban on the device.

According to Bloomberg, Samsung has requested a full reinstatement of sales along with damages from Apple since its Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been banned without cause. The company also asked Judge Lucy Koh to rule on the request without a hearing giving Apple no chance to further its fight.

Update: Apple has fired back asserting that the ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 should be extended not revoked.

Citing the jury verdict Apple is asking for a further ban on the Galaxy Tab. The jury in the case found the Wi-Fi version of that tablet to infringe on three of Apple's "feature" (i.e., software) patents. While the 4G version of the tablet was also on the verdict form the jury didn't find that it infringed on those same design patents.

Apple argues that the two devices are basically the same when it comes to the software, an area where the jury decided there was infringement.

"While the cellular version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was not included in the verdict form, it is not colorably different from the products that the jury found to be infringing as to some Apple utility patents, and thus should be covered by an injunction against sales of products that infringe those patents," Apple said.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Possible Fix For Poor MacBook Battery Life Released

Apple has released an update to the company's newly released Mountain Lion OSX 10.8 operating system that may fix a previously mentioned issue that has caused many users to complain about poor battery life.

Apple made no direct mention of the issue in the release notes for the OS X 10.8.1 update, which was released on Thursday. However, several sites including Ars Technica have reported that initial testing has revealed that the update can "significantly improve" the runtime of Apple laptops over the original shipping version of Mountain Lion.

Following the initial release of Apple's OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion threads quickly began popping up on the Apple support forums and complaints quickly mounted around the web. Users reported seeing significantly less battery life after installing the new OS. Several sites, including Ars Technica did their own independent testing with results showing anywhere from a 20-40% drop in estimated battery life when running Mountain Lion versus Lion. Under Lion, user were reporting consistent 8-hour battery life which quickly plummeted shortly after installing Mountain Lion. Running the same software, battery life plummeted to just over 5 hours in many cases.

Apple has yet to address the reason behind the problem, nor have they offered suggestions for a fix. It appears however that they have been working on the issue as testing on the new update has showed vast improvements. According to the tests from Ars and similar results posted on The Mac Observer showed that battery life improved significantly over 10.8.0, but still fell short of performance under 10.7.4. So users shouldn't expect to see a complete return to their old estimated battery life but the improvement is clearly a step in the right direction.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple Handed $1.05 Billion Verdict In Samsung Patent Case

This just in, the just in the $2.5 billion Apple Vs Samsung patent case has ended deliberation and awarded Apple a judgement to the tune of $1,051,855,000 USD ($1.05B USD).

Samsung has been found guilt of violating several of Apple technology patents for most of its smartphone and tablet devices including '301 (all of Samsung's devices), '381 (all of Samsung's devices), '905 (almost all of Samsung's devices) , and '163 (some devices, but not others).

On the flip side the jury found Apple innocent of infringing on Samsung's '711, '893, '460, and '516 patents. Samsung was found innocent of antitrust violations for litigating with its 3G and 4G standards patents, but it was barred from future litigation ("patent exhaustion").

What this all means and what's next?

Judge Lucy Koh has yet to deliver a final ruling, which may or may not ease some of the settlement costs. What will likely happen is going to be several product bans. Meaning Samsung will likely have to pull product from store shelves. Samsung will undoubtedly file for an appeal, but it's likely to lose billions in the meantime.

The damages aren't really the worst part of this for Samsung or for that matter for the rest of the smartphone world. The very bad part for everyone outside of Apple is that Apple's patents have now stood the litigation test and could potentially be enforceable in other cases. Once a case sets precedence it's rare that its not upheld in future cases.

What this means is that we'll likely see several more smartphone vendors being hit with litigation. We could virtually see all smartphones that violate Apple's patents banned from sale in the U.S., pending software and design modifications. This could literally cost companies several billions of dollars in lost sales and could even shut down some companies altogether.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Registration For $15 Windows 8 Upgrade Is Now Live

Microsoft's discount upgrade offer for that we previously reported on has now gone live. Customers that bought a qualifying PC between June 2 of this year or plan to buy one before the end of January 2013, can now register to pick up their copy of the new OS for $14.99. Just go to Microsoft's upgrade offer website, where you'll be asked to put in some information about your PC and the product key that came with the older version of Windows and on or around Oct. 26, when Windows 8 officially launches, you'll get an email and upgrade online.

The offer is for customers (e.g. Home users, students, and enthusiasts) who purchase a qualified PC. A qualified PC is a new PC purchased during the promotional period with a valid Windows 7 OEM Certificate of Authenticity and product key for, and preinstalled with:

Windows 7 Home Basic;
Windows 7 Home Premium;
Windows 7 Professional; or
Windows 7 Ultimate.

The promotional price is limited to one upgrade offer per qualified PC purchased, and a maximum limit of five upgrade offers per customer. Each upgrade license will apply to only one PC and may only be installed on PCs with a valid base license to a qualifying operating system (i.e., Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista or Windows 7).

Register now at and for more information about the offer checkout the Windows Upgrade Offer FAQs

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Evaluation Copy Of Windows 8 RTM Released To The Public

Just a few short week ago Microsoft confirmed it had finalized Windows 8 and issued the release to manufacturing copy to their OEM partners. Now it looks like they have gone one step further and released a 90-day evaluation copy of that very same Windows 8 RTM for just about anyone to download and test out.

Originally intended for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization before making their final purchase decisions, the evaluation copy was posted to the MSDN and TechNet subscriber page. However that page is currently assessable to anyone. All you need to do is register for the trial and begin the download.

The download generates an .iso file, or disk image, that must be burned to physical media, such as a DVD or a flash drive, or installed in a virtual machine. Once installed the evaluation is valid for a full 90 days of use. At which time, Windows 8 blackens the desktop background, displays a persistent notice that the OS is not genuine, and most draconian of all, shuts down the PC every hour without giving the user a chance to save works in progress.

When the evaluation period expires, users will have to replace it with a purchased copy or another operating system, and reinstall all applications, other software and files. "It is not possible to upgrade the evaluation to a licensed working version of Windows 8," Microsoft warned. If a user downloads and launches the evaluation copy today, it will run until Nov. 12, 2012, about two-and-a-half weeks after Microsoft officially launches Windows 8. This means you won't want to rely on it as a primary operating system, as once it expires you'll likely need to do a full format and fresh install. However for those wanting to test out the full release without relying on the leaked torrented copies this is ideal.

The trial copy of Windows 8 Enterprise must be activated within 10 days of its first launch, but Microsoft said a product key was not required. It is available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

To download the 90-day try-before-you-buy -- available in 32- and 64-bit versions -- start at this Microsoft website.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: TP-Link TL-WR702N Nano Router

The average home user may not be familiar with the name TP-Link. However for those of us in the geek world they are quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best names in networking. They have built a strong foundation of devices that work without issues.

For readers of Geek News you know we've tested plenty of networking devices. Today though we get out hands on out first TP-Link branded device in the form of the new TL-WR702N Wireless Nano Router.

Saying the TP-Link 150 Mbps Wireless N Nano Router is compact is a bit of an understatement. This is tiny! It measures 57mm x 57mm x 18mm, which means its smaller than your credit card and slightly thinner than the average box of mints. This makes it the perfect traveling companion for those who need to share a single WAN connection with two or more devices over a small distance, and for setting up wireless internet access where there's only a wired connection.

TP-Link TL-WR702N Features

  • Compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g/n
  • Wireless speed up to 150Mbps
  • Compact and portable, small enough to take on the road
  • Powered through a micro USB port by an external power adapter or USB connection to a computer
  • Compatible with almost all 2.4GHz Wi-Fi devices
  • Supports AP, Router, Client, Bridge and Repeater operation modes
  • Supports WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK encryptions
  • Full specifications 

TP-Link TL-WR702N Setup

When using the WR702N as a router you have plug and play usability making setup fairly straight forward. The web interface is excellent, highly informative and well organized making it esy to change various settings. You can either manually change the WR702N’s operating mode or you can use a wizard which will walk you through all the settings. Either way, all that’s required to change your access point into a router is a few clicks.

There's only one RJ45 socket which is used as a LAN or WAN port depending on the WR702N’s working mode. If you are setting it up as a wireless router you connect the cable from the modem to the RJ45 socket or if you want to use it as a wireless client you can connect a laptop or PC via the socket and access an existing wireless network.I'd like to have had a second RJ45 socket just for wired needs but that would also mean increasing the size a tad.

I first tried unsuccessfully to setup our TL-WR702N in client mode. The manual didn't give clear instructions for setup so I ran in to a few issues with my default settings. At first I couldn't gain access to the web interface which is supposed to be After setting up a static IP address I was able to get everything up and running. The downside I then had to change all my settings back to get it connected to my router.

TP-Link TL-WR702N Performance

Being a nano sized router you shouldn't expect top notch performance, at least not in range testing. I saw great wireless connectivity in the main office area, which would be about the size of a hotel room. Anything further than that and you quickly see a big drop off.

Speeds seemed fairly consistent. As long as I had connectivity I had no problems streaming music or videos. Being such a small device it was nice to see it perform as well as it did.

TL-WR702N Pricing and Availability

The TP-Link TL-WR702N retails for about $30 at several major retailers. Right now Newegg has them on-sale for $22.99. I've seen a few different color options on Amazon those being green, pink and blue.

My thoughts and conclusions

For the business user or consummate traveler the TP-Link TL-WR702N would be a nice addition to your bag of laptop accessories. It would even be great for those college goers looking to add wireless connectivity to their dorm rooms. The small size means you can pack it in just about any bag, or for that matter a shirt pocket. For the home user however, you probably shouldn't be expecting it to replace your current router. The 150Mbps limit on the wirless N side means you might see some slow downs with multiple users and a lack of wired ports means you'll be limited in file transfer speeds (no gigabit networking). I'd also think that pushing the device with several user connections might create heating issues. I didn't notice any problems in testing but I wasn't pushing it to it's limits.

Overall I'd have to say I was pretty impressed. I've tested several routers and access points from Linksys and Netgear and the TL-WR702N performed very well in comparison.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Successful Multiplayer Gaming In Diablo 3

The following is a guest post from Clive Bokley from EasyDiablo3. Apart from posting news and other updates regularly on his site, they also do in-depth guide reviews such as this Diablo 3 Gold Secrets review.

My Guide to Successful Multiplayer gaming in Diablo 3

Multiplayer is a big aspect in many games nowadays, and Diablo 3 is no different. Like everything else that requires human interaction however, there will always be some quirks you should know about. Never fear though, because if you follow the upcoming tips you should have a pretty smooth experience.

Don’t run off on your own
This was a big problem in Diablo 2 and Blizzard has done many changes to prevent it from happening in Diablo 3 (such as very hard multiplayer mobs, instantized loot for each player, shared quest rewards, etc), but I am still surprised to see some people doing it anyway. For example, it’s not the first time someone joins the game that is about “Area A” but keeps insisting he wants to go to “Area B”, at which point he does, fails miserably, and leaves. Always stick with the main party!

Don’t idle in towns
This is similar to the previous point, but worst. I don’t know exactly why people do this but in 1 out of 2 games there is always some guy that joins the game and just idles in town. This is not only blocking real players from joining the game, but it is also making the monsters harder for the other players. If people want to manage their inventory space, they can just start up a single player session! To make things worse, the “Vote Kick” option doesn’t seem to work.

Don’t join a ranged only party
This isn’t really something you can change, but trust me, don’t stick around in parties that consist of only ranged classes. In 90% of the cases these result in utter failure. My best party combination has been one Barbarian plus one Demon Hunter, but I am sure other setups work too. Just make sure you vary!

Avoid trading
There are so many trade exploits going on at the moment that the only safe tip I can give you in this regards is to simply not trade with anyone you do not know. These trade scams are usually done in two ways:
  • The Dropper – The scammer will close the trade window as soon as you are about to put the item in, causing you to drop it on the ground. You can tell this is going to happen because the scammer will usually stand really close to you or equip +Movement Speed boots. Another variation of this scam is where the scammers tells you to move your item to a different slot to make sure it isn’t duped, at which point he closes the window (resulting in the same thing as the previous method).
  • The Changer – This method involves the scammer putting in a set amount of gold (ex. 250,000), waits for you to put the item in, then executes a script that quickly removes a “0” from the amount and accepts the trade. Most players either don’t notice or were about to click accept anyway, so they get scammed. Variations to this include changing the gold amount to “0”, or removing an item.

Know the mechanics
If you plan on farming in multiplayer, there are some things you should know about. Since most farmers make use of Magic Find or Gold Find, you should know that both of these properties as well as + Experience is averaged out in parties. So for example:
  • Player 1 has 50 MF
  • Player 2 has 100 MF
  • Player 3 and 4 have 0 MF
Using basic maths, (50+100)/4 results in 38 (37.5 rounded up) Magic Find for each player. Thus, farming parties should preferably have an equal MF across the board.

Hope these tips have helped you. Happy gaming!

Romney Selects Rep. Paul Ryan For Vice Presidential Nominee

Here at Geek News we really talk politics, well not the sort that involve the choice of who you might vote for. While I am very political and have my own personal opinions I don't feel that it fits with the nature of the site. Now saying that I'd like to state this post in no means reflects my thoughts or opinions about the up-coming election, rather its about informing my fellow geeks about one of their possible choices.

Earlier this morning Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his choice for a vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan is currently chairman of the House Budget Committee, which has a say in shaping military spending and the overall budget for the US. Ryan's stance on spending and our current economic issues are going to be a key factor in the race, however being the geeks we are its his stance on technology issues that we'd like to focus on.

On technology related issues like net neutrality bills, Ryan has generally voted along party lines. Which is to say Ryan opposed the majority of the bills that most geeks would find offensive. Ryan initially approved of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), but backed down in the face of a pressure campaign from internet-freedom supporters. He has voted to extend the Patriot Act’s roving wiretaps and to immunize telecom companies from legal liabilities for cooperating with warrantless government surveillance, a move we aren't widely open to. But more importantly he has co-sponsored a ban on internet taxes, a ban that might save us geeks some significant money and one that we applaud. 

Ryan is most widely know in political circles for his 2010 Roadmap for America’s Future, a document outlining a Republican legislative agenda that’s come to be known as the Ryan Plan. It was wildly successful, and helped the GOP take control of the House. While not being directly science of technology related Ryan’s plan is about transforming health care, Social Security, the budget process, taxes, and other major domestic legislation. He wants to over turn the Obama Health Care Pla, which we couldn't support more!

I don't know that the two together make a strong ticket that would be worthy of garnering geek support. But what I do know is that we as geeks will be keeping a close on eye on the political race. We need people in office that will fight ridiculous legislation like SOPA and fight to keep an open internet.

For more on Ryan's political insight checkout Paul Ryan on the Issues.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blizzard Confirms Battle.Net Hacked Account Holder Log-in Data Stolen

Blizzard Entertainment, the very popular online gamine giant that runs Battle.Net has confirmed that they were to victims of a major breach early this week that has not only compromised user passwords and emails but log-in information like personal security questions, and information related to mobile and dial-in authentications.

Blizzard claims that the information compromised is not enough for anyone to gain access to the accounts, and that there was no evidence to suggest that more vital bits of user data, such as real names, credit card information, or billing addresses were accessed.

"At this time, we’ve found no evidence that financial information such as credit cards, billing addresses, or real names were compromised. Our investigation is ongoing, but so far nothing suggests that these pieces of information have been accessed," wrote co-founder Mike Morhaime in a message to users.

In the coming days, we'll be prompting players on North American servers to change their secret questions and answers through an automated process. Additionally, we'll prompt mobile authenticator users to update their authenticator software. As a reminder, phishing emails will ask you for password or login information. Blizzard Entertainment emails will never ask for your password. We deeply regret the inconvenience to all of you and understand you may have questions. Please find additional information here.

The company is currently working to investigate the security breach to verify that no other data was stolen, however users should keep any eye on their accounts just in-case.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Casual Gamer? Get a Smartphone, Not a Console!

When it comes to gaming, it pays to know what kind of gamer you are – that way you aren’t spending several hundreds of dollars on gaming equipment unless you absolutely have to. There are two types of gamers in this world – serious gamers and casual gamers. A good way to find out which you are is to find out your overall knowledge or interest in games. For example, are you serious about games as a hobby or more of a diversion? If games are more a diversion and less of an investment (both in time and money) then chances are good you are a casual gamer.

If you are a casual gamer looking for a fix, a smarter investment would be to get a decent smartphone instead of a gaming console. Smartphones are much cheaper than any of the big 3 gaming consoles which include Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PS3. The games are cheaper too. For example, you might pay upwards of about $60 for a triple A title on any of the mainstream consoles, but for that much money you could download over a dozen games on your smartphone.

It’s also easier to game on a Smartphone, especially if it has 3G or 4G connectivity. And unlike a lot of the console gamers out there who have to hop into the car and brave traffic to get a new game, you can download a brand new one straight to your smartphone from the comfort of your own home.

Gaming on the smartphone has also gotten more sophisticated over the years, as more and more developers learn how to program for the devices. Things have come a long way since the likes of Angry Birds and you can even find some high-quality games with gameplay and graphics that rival those of the mainstream consoles. Of course you want to make sure you have a decent enough wireless connection to download these, but that can be remedied if you check out

During the daily grind, we all need a break. Whether it’s in between tasks on the job or weathering a weary commute on the bus. Games help pass the time and can even sharpen your mind (depending on what you play). However, if you are a casual gamer and you are not at all concerned about the console-exclusive games, then get a Smartphone and save yourself a couple hundred bucks in the long run.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

eBay Testing "eBay Now" Same-Day Delivery Service

Shopping online often nets the thrifty geek some of the best bargains around, however it comes with one major pitfall. You have to wait days, even weeks (in some cases) for your newest gadgets to arrive. Enter a new service from eBay dubbed "eBay Now", a new mobile application that is being tested by eBay members in San Francisco. The new app partners eBay with popular brick and mortar retailers to offer same day delivery in some cases in as little as an hour.

Over the past few years retailers looking to break into the massive online market that eBay's auction site holds have uploaded their stores' inventory onto eBay's online marketplace. Looking to take advantage of this partnership eBay along with these transitional in-store retailers have teamed to offer some customers same-day delivery through their San Francisco-based stores. Shoppers simply download the new eBay Now app onto their mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone and iPad, then search for products to buy from local stores in San Francisco.

A courier closest to the product accepts the order, drives to the store to pick up the product and then delivers it to the shopper's home. Customers pay when the product arrives. They can pay using PayPal Here, a new service developed by eBay's PayPal unit that accepts credit and debit card payments through a small swipe device attached to iPhones. Shoppers can also pay by logging into their PayPal accounts through an iPhone.

EBay is offering $15 off the first order through eBay Now. Delivery is free the first three times. After that, delivery is $5 for the test period, and the minimum order is $25.

The current list of participating retailers includes Target, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, Macy's Inc, Nordstrom Inc, Walgreen Co, Crate & Barrel and Fry's Electronics. At this time the testing is limited to San Francisco but if its succesful we'll likely see it rolled out to a few more major areas. You can sign up for eBay Now here.

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion To Blame For Poor Battery Life?

By all accounts when Apple launched the news update to OS X it was considered a hit, logging more than 3 million downloads in its first four days on sale. However, the love affair with the new operating system might be short lived as complaints are piling up about poor battery performance since upgrading.

All around the web there have been a growing number of complaints from users running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on their laptops. Users are noticing that since they've updated to the new OS their battery life isn’t what it used to be. So much so that in some cases installing Mountain Lion has cut the time between charges in half.

Threads have popped on the Apple Support Communities and elsewhere detailing the complaints. On the Apple support forum a thread entitled “Battery life dropped considerably on Mountain Lion,” has now grown to 42 pages and over 600 posts with numerous users expressing similar concerns over poor battery performance.

For the moment Apple doesn’t seem to be commenting or offering any suggestions as to a possible fix or a potential culprit for the problems. Users on several forums have been putting forward their ideas as to what is causing it, but they vary and often times get discounted quickly by others running different configurations, yet experiencing the same issue.

Chris Foresman, from Ars Technica, did an “unscientific test” on a MacBook Air from 2010 (upgrading from Lion to Mountain Lion). He discovered that under the same circumstances Mountain Lion was predicting 3.5 hours of battery life, while Lion would typically predict 4.5 hours. The difference between the two times is about 20 percent, definitely too high for an OS that’s supposed to improve upon Lion. More alarmingly, Foresman claimed the battery appeared to drop by 1 percent every two minutes.

For now it looks as though users will have to wait and see what kind of rabbit Apple can pull out of its hat for a fix. If we run across more details or a potential problem solver we'll be sure to post it for all of our readers. 

Mars Rover Curiosity Lands Safely Begins Sending Video and Images

NASA's newest Mars mission has passed its first hurdle with the successful landing of the new Mars rover Curiosity. Showing off their success NASA has posted a short low resolution video which captured the final minutes of Curiosity's descent onto the planet.

The video was created by images recorded by the Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI, and pieced together at four frames per second to detail the final two and a half minutes of the rover's descent. According to NASA, the images needed to be reduced by a factor of eight in order for them to be sent back to Earth quickly. Higher resolution images (1600 by 1200) will be beamed to Earth in the coming months.

During the descent, the passing Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a shot of the rover's supersonic parachute, which was designed to slow it from 900 miles per hour to around 200 miles per hour. The separated heat shield can be seen falling toward the surface.

The rover also sent a picture that shows the north wall and rim of the Gale Crater, the section of the planet where Curiosity touched down. The image is murky because the dust cover on the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) hasn't been removed. During the descent, dust kicked up by the Sky Crane's rockets coated the lens, but the protective cover will be removed in the coming weeks. MAHLI's main purpose is to capture close-ups of rocks and soil -- it can focus as close as 2.1 centimeters -- but can also focus to infinity, allowing it to capture images like the one of the Martian landscape.

More details on the landing as well as all the images currently available can be seen on the NASA Mars Sciences Laboratory home page.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Windows 8 RTM Leaked To Torrents

Last week Microsoft revealed they had finalized the code for Windows 8 and that they would be releasing the release least to manufacturing (RTM)copy of Windows 8 to all of their OEM partners. Shortly following that announcement it had already been discovered that a copy of that build had been leaked to the Internet and was available on several major torrent sites.

The RTM build has been identified as Windows 8 Enterprise N. The "N" tags it as being aimed at European users which means due to regulations in the EU market it omits some of the features the traditional version would carry. Microsoft has not verified whether the leaked build was legitimate or not, however the consensus from many users and reports was that it was the real deal.

Leaks of upcoming Windows releases are common place. Almost every major milestone of both Windows Vista and Windows 7 hit the web well before their launch. Traditionally Microsoft tries to keep users from installing leaked builds, claiming that they can be infected with malware. So far they have been mum about the Windows 8 leak.

The torrent is roughly a 3GB download which includes not only the Windows 8 Enterprise RTM installation files but a number of screenshots two internal activation videos intended for the Microsoft partners who will be deploying Windows 8 Enterprise. I don't condone pirating software but anyone downloading it should not that you will not want to run this as your main operating system. Not only could it be infected with malware, rootkits or other viruses that have yet to be detected you won't have a valid Windows 8 Enterprise activation key to use with it. Even if there is a "workaround" Microsoft has been working hard at improving its anti-piracy mechanisms, and there’s a good chance they’ll be able to detect and kneecap leaked installations.

Microsoft has already said we can expect a October 26, 2012 release date for general availability.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

How To: Use iCloud To Sync Your iPhone or iPad With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

With the release of Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and the introduction of iCloud, comes a new way for iPhone and iPad users to sync all of their content wirelessly between their Mac and their iOS based devices. This makes is easier to keep track of all your photos, documents, music and even doing regular tasks like adding appointments into your calendar as they will all instantly appear on all of the Apple devices you're using.

Getting Started With Your iPhone or iPad

To begin with you'll need to make sure you have all your devices updated, as well as all your software. You'll need iOS5 or later and iTunes 10.5 or later for some of the services to work. Then you'll need to make sure you have iCloud setup on your iOS devices, this is pretty easy to do. Here are the detailed instructions from Apple.

Image courtesy of Apple

Once you have iCloud turned on be sure you're using the same Apple ID on all the devices you want synced. This means the same AppleID on your iPhone, iPad and Mac. By default, your iPhone or iPad will usually use the same AppleID you use for the App Store, which may or may not be different from your iCloud account so double check that.

The last step is customizing your settings. Tap the Settings icon and select iCloud. Tap the On/Off switches to enable each individual iCloud service you want to use. To enable iCloud Backup, tap Storage & Backup and turn on iCloud Backup, Photo Stream, Find My iPhone ect. You won't need to use all the services, just start with the ones you do and make sure to disable the ones you don't.

Image courtesy of Apple

Setting Up Your Mac

To get the most out of iCloud on your Mac, install OS X Mountain Lion but you need at least the latest version of OS X v10.7.4 or later to get things up and running. If you don’t have the latest version of OS X, you can purchase it from the Mac App Store.

Image courtesy of Apple

To enable iCloud in Mountain Lion, go to System Preferences, click iCloud, enter the AppleID you are using for your iOS devices, and select the services you’d like to enable. You'll need to make sure you have the same services enabled on your Mac that you do on your iOS devices. So if you want to sync your photos from your iPhone  turn on Photo Stream on both the iPhone and the Mac. If you want to sync all of your contacts turn on contacts. Books, you'd turn on iBooks ect. You don't have to enable them all you just need to make sure you check the ones that you'll be using on all your devices and uncheck the ones you don't.

Image courtesy of Apple

Making Sure Things Sync

Once you have all of your devices running setup and iCloud you need to make sure everything syncs with all of your devices. Start by double checking to make sure you have all the same options enabled and your AppleIDs are all the same. To do this, go to Settings - iCloud on your iPhone or iPad and check that your account is the same as the one on your Mac and that the same services have been enabled on each device. Assuming they are all the same, then you should almost immediately notice your synced items appearing on each device. If not then try a test run, snap a few new photos or create a new calender entry (something for any of the services you are using) and see if they appear on the other devices.