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 

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 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

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 (
  • 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 “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 To learn more about the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, customers can visit

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, 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

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 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


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

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:

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.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Windows RT Based ASUS VivoTab Now $549 With Free Keyboard

When Microsoft officially announced pricing on it's own Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows RT and and a touch cover for $599 they sent waves through the marketplace. Several companies had already announced plans and pricing on their own Windows RT based tablets and many of those were priced well above that of Microsoft's offering.

It now appears as though at least one company, ASUS, is going to lower the price of their tablets to compete with Microsoft's pricing. According to Neowin several retailers have dropped the price of the Asus VivoTab RT tablet down a bit, and ASUS has began offering a promotion that gives users a free detachable keyboard. 

Both and B&H are showing the Asus VivoTab RT tablet to be currently priced at $549.99 (OfficeMax and Newegg are also offering the same pricing). ASUS is also running a promotion for any customer that registers their VivoTab on the company's website a FREE Mobile Dock. The Mobile Dock features a chiclet keyboard, multi-touch touchpad and USB port, all while increasing battery life up to 16 hours.

This is a pretty sweet deal for ASUS fans and honestly a bit surprising for a tablet that's only been on the market for a few days.

Top 10 Worst Passwords of 2012

The following is a guest post from Devon Littleton. Devon is an outdoors enthusiast and Internet researcher and writer. He recently trekked across lava in Hawaii and is a copy editor for Grand Woodworking.

If you use the Internet, then you probably have multiple user names and passwords for various services that you use. There are email accounts, social media sites, your ftp login for a hosting account, perhaps a bank or credit card account, access to work accounts and all the great tools and apps that have become indispensable. Each new account or service brings the threat of a security breach. So you would figure that people have grown accustomed to creating secure passwords. Apparently they haven't.

According to a newly released study conducted by password security firm SplashData - Internet users persist in using ''password'' as their, well, password. The study compiled data on published password lists from known hacker sites. These passwords are likely to be easily exploited in any hacking attempt due to their popularity and simplicity. Here are the top 10 worst passwords of 2012:

1. password
2. 123456
3. 12345678
4. abc123
5. qwerty
6. monkey
7. letmein
8. dragon
9. 111111
10. baseball

Passwords By the Numbers
If you are looking to create a truly secure password - you'll need two components: length and complexity. Longer passwords create more permutations and combinations that a computer needs to create in order to break it. Additionally, if those characters are expanded in complexity it becomes almost impossible for even a very sophisticated super computer to hack the password. However, length trumps complexity every time. Here is an example:

Using practically every combination of characters on the keyboard = 123456789AaBbCcDdEeFfGgHhIiJjKkLlMmNnOoPpQqRrSsTtUuVvWwXxYyZz <>!"#$%&'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_`{|}~ (upper case, lower case, numbers and non-alphabet characters) and creating a password that is 8 characters in length (often the minimum required by websites for security) will yield 7.2 quadrillion possible combinations. That is 7.2 followed by 15 zeros. Sounds secure doesn't it? However, a super computer which could run through combinations at the rate of 1,000,000,000 passwords each second would take just over 83 days to hack that password. Not exactly fast, but doable.

Compare that to a password generated using just the lower case alphabet = abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz that is 20 characters in length. Such a password would have 19.9 octillion possible combinations. That is 19.9 followed by 27 zeros. Here it is written out: 19,900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This longer but somewhat simpler (in terms of the characters) password would take a super computer 631 billion years to crack. Not likely.

In case you never saw this video clip - check out Data from Star Trek the Next Generation imitating Captain Picard and creating a secure password for the Starship Enterprise.

How to Create a Secure Password
Generally speaking, the longer and more complex a password is - the more secure it is. Here are a few guidelines from Internet security expert Daniel Foster, Technical Director with website hosting:

Never ever use a 'default' password as your own password. Certain programs or websites will automatically populate a password field which you are then expected to type over with a new password. Never use the default - create an original and secure password from scratch.

Dictionary passwords are easy to crack - don't use them. Any word that can be found in a dictionary can also easily be added to the database of a hacker.

The most secure passwords are a minimum of eight characters long and contain lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric characters as well. Longer passwords are more secure.

Create unique passwords for each login that you have. Reusing the same password over and over creates a greater security risk.

Avoid common patterns in passwords. As can be seen in the 'worst passwords' list above, repeating a number or listing consecutive letters or numbers is a bad idea. Get creative with your passwords and avoid obvious patterns.

Need help creating a secure password? Use a secure password generator.

Once you have created a password which you think is secure, you can test your assumption with Microsoft's password strength checker. (MS appears to have dropped their support for the tool)

Mr. Foster also suggests changing your passwords from time to time. Remember not to get complacent - earlier this year hundreds of thousands of passwords were hacked from sites including Yahoo!, LinkedIn and eHarmony. Those same password lists were uploaded to a Russian hacker server and presumably remain on hacker lists throughout the Internet. This means that re-use of any of those passwords represents a potential security risk.

Good luck creating a secure password and maintaining all of your Internet services free from compromise.

Steam For Linux Beta Is Now Open

Valve recently announced the company was close to finalizing a Steam clinet for Linux and put out a call to action for gamers interested in participating. Within its first week, Valve received over 60,000 responses to its request for participants in beta test. The first round of beta participants has been selected from this group of respondents, however Valve is looking to add more.

If you're interested in participating in the beta and are an "experienced" Linux user, there's still time to fill out Valve's application. Subsequent participants will be chosen among survey respondents, and once the team has seen a solid level of stability and performance across a variety of systems, the Steam for Linux client will become available to all users of Steam.

The Steam for Linux Beta client is currently available for installation on Ubuntu 12.04 only though several sites have mentioned users installing it on other Linux distros. The beta kicks off with 26 titles, including the free-to-play Team Fortress 2 game.

For more details on participating in the beta test visit

Source: Steam for Linux Beta Now Available

Is Dell Losing Its Market Foothold?

The following is a guest post from David Fuller an article contributor at where David joins other contributors in giving consumers the low-down on the most recent product developments in the information technology industry.

When small companies get left in the dust by their competitors, hardly anybody notices it. However, for large corporations who dominate their respective industries, falling behind gets a lot of attention. In the case of Dell, Inc. the attention is quite overwhelming.

The Rise of Dell Inc.

Dell, Inc. traces its beginnings to a dorm room headquarters in the University of Texas at Austin. Founded in 1984 by Michael Dell, it was first known as PCs Limited, a company selling IBM PC-compatible computer systems. Using a direct-to-consumer sales approach, the company earned $73 million in its initial year of operation, thanks to their proprietary “Turbo PC” computer which sold at $795 per unit.

Going Global

Three years later, Michael Dell decided to go global and started using “Dell Computer Corporation” as its official company name. As Dell had its initial public offering on June 22, 1988, its market capitalization ballooned to $80 million. Four years after the IPO, Dell became a Fortune 500 company, elevating its status as one of the top corporations worldwide.

Market Dominance

Its early years of global operations saw constant growth, maintaining their share of the PC market even as their competitors groaned under the strain of industry slowdowns. Up until 2001, Dell is the number one PC brand in terms of reliability and customer service ratings. Dell officially went online and started selling PCs on their website in 1996. The company eventually surpassed their closest competitor, Compaq in 1999 as the largest manufacturer of PCs globally. Although the Compaq and Hewlett-Packard merger of 2002 made Dell lose some ground in the PC market, the company regained its dominance a year later and held the top spot until 2006.

Diversification and Other Major Changes

Back in 2003, Dell Computer Corporation once again changed its name to Dell, Inc. This move signified the company’s strategy of diversifying into other products aside from PCs. A year later, Michael Dell handed over the reigns to Kevin Rollins as company CEO while staying as the corporation’s Chairman. Under Rollins leadership, Dell, Inc. started to distance itself from two major corporations which were instrumental to its stellar rise to PC market dominance – Intel and Microsoft.

Going Downhill

Dell, Inc. maintained dominance in the PC market for years, giving rise to the idea that the company would enjoy being on the top spot in the coming years. However, 2005 sales growth figures showed significant reduction with Dell, Inc. losing a quarter of its stock value. A year later, stock values went further down to 40% from the previous year.

The sudden downhill slide was largely attributed to a fast-maturing PC market. This comprised about 66% of Dell, Inc.’s total sales, which prompted market analysts to suggest that the company start considering market segments beyond PCs in order to generate a more diversified source of sales. Dell, Inc. began to realize that crucial business advantages such as efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes, and up-selling, are losing its competitive edge.

Another stumbling block was Dell, Inc.’s low support for R&D initiatives. While its competitors were busy improving their processes and coming up with new products, Dell, Inc. showed paltry spending on R&D in comparison to its generated revenues. As the competition explored and profited from diversified sales strategies, the company got left behind since they practically had nothing to offer for the retail segments.

Moreover, Dell, Inc.’s once prized customer service became notorious for its poor satisfaction ratings and long waiting times. Despite efforts to shore up its customer service division, customer satisfaction levels remained dismal. The company image was further tarnished by a battery recall and several domestic investigations and foreign lawsuits.

Is Dell Losing Ground Again?

Based on Dell, Inc.’s most recent market sales data, it has once again posted losses as shares dropped and customers deferred PC purchases due to the Microsoft Windows 8 OS release. In addition, the popularity of mobile computing devices (e.g. iPad, etc.) and smartphones has reduced PC sales even further. For companies who have failed to gain a foothold in this particular market niche, last quarter sales figures look dismal to say the least. Furthermore, sales in the international PC market look dim as several crucial economies including China continue to experience slow growth. Unless Dell, Inc. comes up with something to revitalize its prospects, the outlook is generally grim.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

FCC Orders AT&T To Refund Over Charged 'Grand Fathered' Data Customers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered AT&T to pay fines and penalties in the amount of $700,000 for overcharging "grand fathered" customers who were switched to a costlier, monthly subscription plan from a "pay-as-you-go" system.

The $700,000 fines will be issued as a refund to customers that AT&T forced to move to a monthly data plan despite their accounts being covered under a so-called grandfather clause. According to the commission, some existing AT&T users who replaced phones through warranty or moved homes were switched to the more expensive programs which resulted in additional fees of as much as $25 to $30 a month depending on usage.

AT&T estimates that fewer than 0.03 percent of their customers had been mistakenly switched, an error discovered in 2010. It then reimbursed those who contacted the company.

This "puts precious dollars back in the pockets of consumer — where they belong," said Michele Ellison, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "We strongly encourage AT&T subscribers to check their bills closely and contact the company if they spot any overcharges related to wireless data."

Customer who think they are do a refund should contact AT&T directly for more information.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Will Apple Approve A Google Maps For iOS App?

Undoubtedly Apple has become well known for the tight control they exhibit over the Apple App store. Since the launch of the App Store they've been known to disallow or remove apps for 'questionable material' or distasteful content. In the past they've even been know to reject apps like Google voice for duplicate function. So its no wonder that developers show a bit of concern when they develop new applications for iOS.

Today the web was crawling with reports that Google is working on a downloadable Google Maps app design specifically for iOS. However, that wasn't what made headlines. The report indicated that Google insiders have concerns that all their hard work will be for nothing as they are doubtful that their app will be approved by Apple.

"Sources at Google familiar with its mapping plans say they are 'not optimistic' that Apple will ever approve a dedicated Google Maps iOS app," the Guardian wrote. "Though the app is reportedly in development and should be ready to ship by the end of the year, the sources say their plans are only proceeding in 'the unlikely event' that Apple will choose to approve the app."

This report sparked a wave of reactions:

"This screams of shadiness on Apple's part, if the report is true," says IntoMobile.

"It might be a long time before we see a native Google Maps app on iOS," warns Business Insider.

"Though it hasn't publicly stated its plans, Google has apparently been working on its own mapping app for iOS since this summer and plans to have it ready to ship before the end of the year. However, inside the company there's little hope for Apple approval. Instead, Apple is expected to "keep moving forward in an effort to make its obviously inferior product better," and "save face" with the public" Via ArsTechnica

"Apple unlikely to approve Google Maps app for iOS, report says." Via Cnet

Google's concerns may well be valid, but then again aren't every developers? Apple's history shows that any developer should be worried about the ever-changing standards for what qualifies for App Store hosting. In the past developers have had apps that they were selling for years suddenly yanked from the store over some sudden change of heart -- and it happens all the time. So yes Google should be concerned!

Now many Apple supporters want to point out that Apple has allowed a YouTube app and that Apple CEO Tim Cook went out of his way to recommend competitors when there was a negative reaction to the company's launch of iOS 6 and their own Apple Maps project. In his open letter of apology to iOS 6 users, Cook clearly recommend competitors though it should be noted that he mentions using the 'less inferior' website based versions.

Does this mean he left the door open to a competing product? Certainly not! Apple has been trying everything it can to cut ties with Google. This is part of the reason they dropped the use of Google Maps to begin with.

So will Apple approve A Google Maps for iOS App? Personally at this point I don't think Apple can afford not to. Both Google and Apple are being very closely scrutinized over possible anti-competitive maneuvers and anti-trust concerns. Apple blocking Google Apps could leave the door open to even more scrutiny that I'm sure they don't want right now.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Amazon Kicks Off Black Friday 2012 With Black Friday Deals Store

With Halloween officially in the bag (so to speak) the holiday season officially begins, and for some that means only one thing. Holiday shopping time! That's right it almost time to start that holiday shopping and before you know it Black Friday will be upon us.

Amazon is kicking this off a little early this year with the launch of its Black Friday Deals Store ( The new Black Fridays deals destination will feature many if the typical Amazon style deals customers are use to. Things like Deal of the Day, along with limited-time, doorbuster-style Lightning Deals and other huge savings on the hottest electronics, toys, clothing and more. The page will be open now through the Black Friday weekend.

Below is a preview of  some of the items that Amazon says we can expect to see discounted at various times leading up to Black Friday.
  • Panasonic VIERA ST50 Plasma TVs and E50 LED TVs
  • Samsung Series 9 Premium Ultrabook (silver)
  • Nikon Camera with 18x Zoom
  • Xbox 360 250GB with Kinect
  • JumpSport Elite 14-Foot Trampoline with Enclosure
  • Up to 40% on select Alex Toys
  • Street Surfing Amped Pro Scooters
  • Buy three or more select Hasbro Games, get the lowest price game free
  • Up to 60% off children’s books, including Disney Bedtime Favorites
  • Up to 50% off select winter clothing, including outerwear and cold weather accessories
  • Stuhrling Men’s Symphony Aristocrat Executive Automatic Skeleton Watch
  • Peugeot Women’s Diamond Accented Watch
  • Select Bosch tools and accessories
  • Up to 60% off popular TV series, including Seasons One and Two of The Walking Dead
  • Casio 76-Key Premium Keyboard Package

Check the Amazon Black Friday Deals Store and the full press release for more details.

iFixit Gives The iPad Mini The Teardown Treatment

Those crazy geeks at iFixit are at it again, this time tearing apart the new iPad Mini.

Image courtesy iFixit

While the new 7" iPad mini isn’t even officially on sale yet, those geeks over at iFixit managed to work their magic and get their hands on one to tear apart. For DIY'ers there are some good signs and some bad signs. For starters iFxit says that like many of Apple’s other gadgets, the iPad Mini isn’t very easy to open up and repair yourself. The good side is that unlike some of the previous iPhones the LCD and front glass are separate components, making replacement of individual components a possibility (and making a repair less expensive). Second, the battery is not soldered to the logic board, though both it and logic board are held together with "copious amounts of adhesive".

Overall iFixit gives the iPad Mini a 2 out of 10 repairability rating noting that the tons of adhesive and the lightning connector being soldered to the logic board make at-home repair less than ideal.

In terms of internals there weren't many surprises. The Mini has a 7.9" 1024 x 768 pixel (163 ppi) Samsung multi-touch display, stereo speakers, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing shooter, and a 5-megapixel rear camera that can shoot HD video. The hardware comes cutiousy of a few different manufactures. There is an Apple designed Dual-core A5 processor with 512 MB of RAM, Hynix NAND flash for storage and a number of microchips from Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc and Broadcom.

For the full teardown goodness, head on over to iFixit.

Stolen Phone Database Now Live

Earlier this year the FCC alongside all of the major US cell phone providers brokered a deal to create a stolen phone database that would allow the tracking, and blocking of phones reported to have been stolen. The first of these services, managed by AT&T and T-Mobile has gone live today.

The stolen phone program works like this: A phone is reported stolen and the IMEI, a unique identification number in the cellphone, is entered into the database and then blocked. This ID number remains with the cellphone no matter what SIM card is used or what a user does to the phone. If the thief, or other unsuspecting user, tries to use that phone with their new SIM card or tries to get new service on that phone they won't be able to.

"The goal is to not only protect the consumer by cancelling the service, but by ultimately protecting the consumer by drying up the after market for stolen phones," said Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs at CTIA, a wireless industry trade association that has coordinated efforts to introduce the database.

Verizon and Sprint are working to offer their own databases which will eventually be combined with the AT&T and T-Mobile databases so that the vast majority of U.S. cellphone users will be covered. Smaller carriers like Nex-Tech and Cellcom are also getting on board the database. There are also plans to link it with an international database maintained by the GSM Association to stop stolen phones being shipped overseas and used on foreign networks.

The goal behind the database is to hopefully prevent the theft of mobile phones by making it less attractive to criminals. The thought is that if its harder (or near impossible) to activate the phones then there will be less motivation to take them.

While the phone database may eventually be a great deterrent to stop thieves it isn't a stop all. CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent pointed out that most users now store a large amount of personal data on their smartphones - from photos and videos to banking information and emails.   

"While the GSM and CDMA databases are important, consumers also play a key role in protecting their information and preventing smartphone theft," Largent continued. "By using passwords or PINs, as well as remote wiping capabilities, consumers can help to dry up the aftermarket for stolen devices. It's important consumers know that by taking simple precautions, such as downloading a few apps, they can protect their information from unauthorized users," he said.

AT&T customers may report a stolen phone and suspend their service online at, at an AT&T store, or by contacting AT&T Customer Care at 1-800-331-0500. Within 24 hours, AT&T will block the use of a device reported as stolen.