Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: Fellowes Powershred 73Ci Review

Still looking for those end of the year gifts, or perhaps a little extra something to start the New Year with some safety and security. Earlier this month we introduced our readers to the new Fellowes Powershred 73Ci. Here are our thoughts and opinions after putting the cross cut shredder through its paces.

Here are some of the features:
  • 100% Jam Proof System that eliminates paper jams and powers through tough jobs
  • Proprietary Energy Savings System which maximizes shredder energy savings 100% of the time – both in use and out of use
  • Capacitive touch screen controls
  • Heavy-duty Cross-Cut blades that destroy a single sheet of paper into 397 particles, making it nearly impossible to piece back together yet tough enough to cut through credit cards, paper clips, staples, and CD/DVDs

The first thing you'll notice after grabbing and opening the box is that this shredder is a monster. Thanks to its heavy-duty motor it carries a little more weight than you'd really expect. Don't let that stop you though, it comes equipped with wheeled waste bin that allows you to easily maneuver the machine around the office and makes waste collecting a snap. Inside the box are the shredder, waste bin, machine oil for the gears, four metal swivel casters (which will need to be attached), recyclable bags, and an instruction manual with basic usage details.

The setup is pretty straight forward. Start by attaching the casters, which fit snugly onto the bottom of the bin, and snap in so there’s no need tool. Of course, you can also leave the wheels off, but as mentioned this thing is rather heavy so the casters make it easier to maneuver.

Once the casters and bin are in place, hoist the beefy top onto the bin and that is it, you are now ready to shred. Just flip the power switch on the back and plug the unit into any AC outlet. The front touch panel comes alive as blue LEDs show off the power button, forward and reverse keys. To start shredding, all you have to do is just insert some paper straight in and let go. This thing is rather powerful and can chew through stacks of paper in no time.

In our testing we tested the claims that it could shred up to twelve sheets of paper, we even tossed a few DVDs and Credit Cards at it. The motor seems to have a couple stages, when shredding a light load is seems to run slow and quiet and then a second stage kicks in when shredding heavier loads. Running a DVD through doesn't seem to slow it down at all. Though we did noticed a bit of a slow when processing several sheets of fairly dense paper, but it never jammed up.

The Powershred 73Ci is equipped with SafeSense Technology, which stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening. However, the intake area has a sloped recession and is rather deep, so it seems really unlikely that the feature would ever be put to the test, even by a child.

My final thoughts and opinion

Keeping personal information safe these days is a must! We see reports almost daily about how prevalent ID Theft is. For anyone looking to step up their protect, either at home or at the office Powershred 73Ci is a powerful option. I personally like the fact that I can shred optical disks and Credit Cards with a breeze. I know in my own life I've all to often forgot how much personal information or pictures a DVD might contain. So adding that extra level of protection is a necessity for me these days.

The 73Ci is available at office superstores and their online counterparts for a suggested retail price of $199.99. For more information on keeping your personal identification secure this holiday season be sure to follow @FellowesInc and hashtag #IDSafetySeason

This post was created in partnership with Fellowes. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Microsoft Offering 12 Months of Premium Skype Features For Free

In celebration of this month's launch of the Skype Collaboration Project Microsoft is running a new promotion that is will offer Skype users free group calls, free group screen sharing, no advertising and access to live customer support, for free. All of these features are typically reserved for premium account holders but by singing up now you can get them free for 12 months.

The Skype Collaboration Project, was launched as an online destination that focuses on the intersection between technology and creative industries. The projects goal is to shine a spotlight on creative talent, including celebrated British fashion designer Victoria Beckham. With The Skype Collaboration Project, Skype wants to inspire emerging creative talent in four ways:
  • Using technology to bring innovative ideas and products to life
  •  Channeling passion and entrepreneurial spirit into success
  • Shaping inspiration into reality through the power of collaboration
  • Exhibiting the incredible craft from artisans around the globe
  • As part of the project, The Skype Conversation Series, will offer students, fashion fans and creatives exclusive access to the innovators, experts and fashion insiders at the heart of industry.
To signup for the 12 month offering simply visit the Skype Collaboration offer page, enter a valid email address, yes it must be a valid email as they will send a code to your inbox, and you are done. The offer must be redeemed on or before 30th April 2014 and commences on the redemption date. Skype account required and subscription may only be redeemed in respect of one Skype account. Skype's Terms of Use apply. To redeem your code, click here.

Google Zeitgeist 2013 Report

As the year draws to an end, Google this week has revealed its top 10 global trending searches of 2013. Sprinkled amongst the top searches are two rather surprising terms (when compared to the rest of the searches). Apple's iPhone 5S, which made it to the number 3 spot and Samsung's Galaxy S4 which made it to number 8.

Technology aside, the rest of Google's top 10 global trending searches for 2013 has both sad and bright parts. The first two places belong to people who have passed away recently: Nelson Mandela, former South African president, Nobel Peace Prize winner and social activist, and Paul Walker, the actor who gained international fame thanks to his role in the Fast and the Furious series.

The 13th annual Google Zeitgeist lists, which were released on Tuesday, are meant to provide a “sign of the times” as a barometer of global interests on the Internet’s largest search engine.

Here are some of the top results:

Top Trending Searches 2013

1. Paul Walker
2. Boston Marathon Bombing
3. Nelson Mandela
4. Cory Monteith
5. iPhone 5s
6. Government Shutdown
7. James Gandolfini
8. Harlem Shake
9. Royal Baby
10. Adrian Peterson

Trending People 2013

1. Paul Walker
2. Cory Monteith
3. Nelson Mandela
4. Aaron Hernandez
5. Adrian Peterson
6. Miley Cyrus
7. James Gandolfini
8. Paula Deen
9. Mindy McCready
10. Trayvon Martin

U.S. Trending Events 2013

1. Boston Marathon
2. Government Shutdown
3. VMAs
4. Moore, Oklahoma Tornado
5. Royal Baby
6. Zimmerman Trial
7. Typhoon Haiyan
8. New Pope
9. Syria Conflict
10. Mayweather vs. Canelo

Trending TV Shows 2013

1. Breaking Bad
2. Game of Thrones
3. Orange Is the New Black
4. Scandal
. House of Cards
6. Downton Abbey
7. Suits
9. Dexter
10. New Girl

Most-Searched TV Shows 2013

1. Breaking Bad
2. Duck Dynasty
3. Big Bang Theory
4. Good Morning America
5. South Park
6. True Blood
7. Big Brother 15
8. New Girl
9. Castle
10. Attack on Titan

For more on this years list checkout the Official Google Blog.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

SteamOS Beta Now Available For Download

Valve’s new SteamOS software is now available to download for consumers and manufacturers, but Valve has issued the warnign that this new operating system is an early beta release only suitable for those that are very experienced with Linux and are comfortable with testing true beta software. Valve has flicked the switch on the availability of SteamOS for the benefit of the 300 beta testers who are receiving their units this weekend.

Initially designed to allow users to run PC based Steam games on their television sets the new SteamOS also features a basic Linux based desktop mode that can run regular Linux applications. The hardware requirements for this 1.0 release are a 64-bit Intel/AMD CPU, 4GB or more of memory, 500GB+ hard disk space, UEFI boot support, at least one USB port for installation and Nvidia-based graphics.

The software is not meant to be instlled on a main PC, and for now is not meant to be used in a dual boot situation as the current installation procedure will erase everything currently on your machine. The installer weighs in at a hefty 960MB and you can get at it through the links in the Steam Database announcement. If you are brave enough to test it out I'd suggestion reading the ArsTechnica walkthrough on installing the OS to your system.

The Linux-based SteamOS was unveiled to the world back in September, with Valve promising an operating system for the TV and the living room. Steam Machines packaged together with the fully finished SteamOS are due to go on sale at some point during 2014. For more details checkout the Official SteamOS Site and Official SteamOS FAQ

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MetLife Seeking To Become A Technology Leader With New Tech Hub In North Carolina's Research Triangle

Earlier this year, MetLife, Inc., a leading global life insurance and employee benefits company, announced that it is breaking ground in North Carolina’s Research Triangle area for a new best-in-class global technology hub.

Located in Cary, N.C., the new hub will house the infrastructure that enables MetLife to deliver world-class service to its customers. MetLife’s entry into the Research Triangle area, coupled with its new U.S. retail headquarters in Charlotte, represents a $125.5 million investment in North Carolina. This is on top of the $1.2 billion in insurance funds that MetLife has invested in North Carolina housing, agriculture, commercial real estate, health care and utilities.

The opening of MetLife's new campus in Cary, North Carolina means a lot of new job growth and opportunity for Raleigh. They are currently breaking on a state of the art campus that is slated to open in 2015. MetLife intends to create 2,600 jobs with the new technology solutions center, which will provide one of the largest jobs creation institutions in North Carolina's recent history. Over the coming months more than 1,000 positions will open across various functions including engineering, development, app maintenance, IT risk and security and tech support.

MetLife is targeting LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certification or higher for the state-of-the-art workplace, which will feature an environment designed to facilitate collaboration and innovation. The campus will consist of 427,000 square feet in two 213,500 square foot office buildings with structured parking. The buildings will be situated on 26.5 acres fronting the 520-acre Lake Crabtree, which is adjacent to I-40 and the nearby Raleigh-Durham International Airport. In addition, the campus will feature sprawling outside space including a great lawn, amphitheater, patio and places to engage in activities such as basketball and volleyball.

For more information about MetLife GTO, including job opportunities, visit and be sure to follow MetLife GTO viaTwitter @ML_TechandOps

#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Metlife GTO. This could include MetLife Global Technology and Operations group providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Keep Personal Information Safe This Holiday Season With The Fellowes Powershred 73Ci Cross Cut Shredder

The holiday season is here and the last thing most of us want to do is worry about our personal and financial information slipping into the wrong hands. Often times in the rush to get shopping done, presents wrapped or taking care of the other details we overlook one important item. Those pesky credit card receipts, bills and other materials that identity thieve would love to get their hands on.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, there was one incident of ID fraud every three seconds in 2012. The holiday season is an especially dangerous time of year for this crime as consumers are distracted and sharing their confidential information frequently. One of the best ways to avoid such hazards is to shred your personal documents, statements and other bills.

But what do you do with those other personal items such as those left over photo CD/DVDs you might have made, or those expired credit cards? Did you know with the right shredder you can shred those as well?

For those geeks out there looking for that perfect shredder to add to their #HolidayGiftGuides checkout the Fellowes Powershred 73Ci Cross Cut Shredder. This beast of a machine is packed with features that are perfect for the gadget loving geek, home office user or just about anyone that is looking to make sure all their personal information is safely shredded.

Features include: 100% Jam Proof System that eliminates paper jams and powers through tough jobs, SafeSense Technology which automatically stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening and Heavy-duty Cross-Cut blades that destroy a up to 12 sheets of paper into 397 particles or cut through credit cards, paper clips, staples, and CD/DVD.

The 73Ci is available at office superstores and their online counterparts for a suggested retail price of $199.99. For more information on keep your personal identification secure this holiday season be sure to follows @FellowesInc and hashtag #IDSafetySeason

This post was created in partnership with Fellowes. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Microsoft Warns: Xbox One Backwards Compatability Hoax Will Brick Your Systems

We've all heard the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true it usually is." Well it appears that rings true in the case of a forum post that has been making big promises about Microsoft’s Xbox One. The post details an option that allows users gain backwards compatibility (capable of playing Xbox 360 games) by going into the system and enabling developer tools.

Micrsoft has warned that this, hack or hoax as it now appears, simply isn’t true, and playing around with those tools could render your system bricked.

Microsft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb tweets:

“To be clear there is no way to make your Xbox One backwards compatible & performing steps to attempt this could make your console inoperable.”

Neither the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4 are backwards-compatible and cannot be used to play previous generation games, no matter how much tweaking or reconfiguring you might attempt. The six-step tutorial passed around Facebook and Twitter actually opens the Developer Mode of the Xbox One and fixes it in a constant reboot cycle.

The origin of the prank isn’t clear, but the tutorial image proudly announces that “Xbox 360 games will now be playable on your console.” Microsoft intionally left the deloper options open so that anyone with the desire to become a developer can eventually be granted access to the developer tools on Microsoft’s new games console. Once the feature is ready to go live Microsoft will allow delopers the option to turn their current consoles into a developer unit without paying out extra for hardware — all that will be required when the feature goes live is a license fee and authorization code.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

NORAD Santa Tracker Now Online, Now Offers 3D and Touch Support

With Christmas right around the corner it is that time of year gain when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (“NORAD”)launches their famous Santa Tacker. A website which allows children around the world to tack Santa's journey around the globe. Since 1955, children of all ages have tracked his route with the help of NORAD’s radar, satellites and jet fighters. This year, Microsoft has lent a hand to make the experience the most magical yet, putting a fresh spin on the time-honored tradition with the launch of the new website.

The new website now offers children more than just a way to track Santa on Dec. 24. It lets you immerse yourself in the holiday throughout the month of December. With a nostalgic, 3D Claymation look and feel, the new site features a recreation of Santa’s village that you can explore to discover new games daily, music, videos and more.

The new site is fully touch-enabled, which makes for a truly immersive experience, if you are using a touch device. On Dec. 24, a touch-enabled 3-D globe will light up as Santa begins his journey worldwide. With a modern browser you will be able to spin the globe with a swipe of a finger and pinch and zoom to get an in-depth look at Santa’s stops.Whether you’re mapping Santa’s route in a browser on a computer or in an app, you’ll see beautiful, high-fidelity images. Bing Maps is the canvas on which Santa’s journey is plotted. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Amazon Appstore Offering Free Android Games This Weekend

As part of the company's Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend promotion, Amazon has announced that its Appstore for Android will be giving away a selection of top Android games this weekend. The "Ultimate Game Collection" promotion which runs from today, Nov. 29, through Sunday, Dec. 1 will include free paid versions of Sonic the Hedgehog, Angry Birds Space Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run and Fruit Ninja. Here's a breakdown of the sales on

In addition to the Ultimate Game Collection, Amazon will continue to offer their free app of the day as well as several other hot deals through Cyber-Monday.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FBI Reminds Holiday Shoppers To Beware Of Online Scams

With holiday shopping in full swing and many of you out there looking online for the best deals possible, the FBI has issued a series of reminders to online shoppers to beware of scams and to use their common sense when making purchases, visiting websites and opening emails.

“ Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or e-mails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product,” the FBI states.

Here are some tips the FBI has shared that you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI website and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking the envelope in the upper right corner of the page. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Have A Faulty Xbox One? Get A Free Game From Microsoft

Microsoft has already acknowledged that a small portion Xbox One's have a potential problem with the game console's disk drive which causes a 'grinding' sounds when disks are loaded. Anyone affected with the issue will not only have their consoles replaced, but they can get a free game once they’ve reported the error.

“The issue is affecting a very small number of Xbox One customers,” Microsoft told CNET. “We’re working directly with those affected to get a replacement console to them as soon as possible through our advance exchange program. Rest assured, we are taking care of our customers.”

You can get your hands on Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising, Ryse or Zoo Tycoon if your console’s disc drive is making unhealthy noises and refusing to play any games. Once you’ve reported the issue to Microsoft, you should get your replacement Xbox One within a matter of days. The free game can be downloaded digitally (and played without using the disc drive).

Microsoft also has promised that affected buyers won't have to wait too long for a replacement.

"Customers have the option for us to send a replacement console right away without waiting until they have returned their old one," Microsoft said. "This means a customer only has to wait a matter of days, rather than weeks to get back up and running."

Microsoft didn't indicate exactly how many people are included in a "very small number."

For those looking to take advantage of the offer, head to the Xbox website, contact @XboxSupport on Twitter or just shout “Xbox Help” at your black box to get assistance from Microsoft.

Update: If your Xbox One is completely unplayable, crash-prone, or suffers from Internet connection or Kinect-related issues, you are not eligible for a free launch title game, Microsoft has confirmed. Because Microsoft is issuing the free game titles as digital copies only the owners of unusable Xbox One units will not be eligible because they cannot play games at all -- let alone download them. "The digital download is only for the folks having issues with their disc drive because we want to ensure our advance exchange customers can stay in the game," a Microsoft representative confirmed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Google Glass Explorer Program Now Open To Everyone With $1500

Google Glass seems to be the hottest topic in tech these days. The exclusive Explorer program has built a lot of hype and anticipation despite only allowing certain developers, contest winners, and VIPs to the program. Now that privilege of paying $1,500 for a beta version of the hardware is being rolled out to more and more individuals. Just last month, existing Explorers were given the ability to invite three friends to purchase their own set of Glass and now Google is opening the door a little wider allowing anyone to join the waiting list.

As the potential release of Google Glass nears, it appears as though Google is looking to really broaden its beta test. The compnay has very quietly rolled out a page that will allow any US resident willing to plop down the $1500 entrance fee a chance at getting their hands on a pair.

The Glass Explorer Program
The Explorer Program launched earlier this year and is designed for people who want to get involved early and help shape the future of Glass. We’re expanding The Explorer Program little by little, and experimenting with different ways of bringing new Explorers into the program.

If you’re a US resident and are interested in joining, you can sign up here and we’ll let you know if a spot opens up - please note that, while we'd like to invite everyone, we can't guarantee invites right now.

In addition to the open enrollment Google has also announced the addiiton of several new music features for Google Glass. According to their +Google posting the company plans to roll out the new features over the next few weeks. There will be a new voice command option (“Okay Glass, listen to”) so you can access your tracks from +Google Play Music, including the millions of songs on All Access. Also, if you say "Okay Google, what song is this?" the Sound Search feature will analyze a song playing within earshot, and give you the name and artist along with an image of the CD cover.

Alongside the new music offerings will be the introduction of a set of $85 stereo earbuds designed specifically for Glass. They’re lightweight and uniquely engineered to deliver crisp, full-range audio while still letting you hear your surroundings. For the fashionistas out there there will be an option of customizing your buds with five interchangeable color caps.

Want to join the list? Then fill out the Google form here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Samsung Looks To Inspire People With "Launching People" Campaing

Technology has certainly inspired people to new heights over the years. We've blasted off to the moon, dove deeper into the oceans than ever before and even sent rovers to Mars. With today's advanced technology we can soar to even higher heights and Samsung wants to empower people to do so. Samsung Electronics announced its global “Launching People” campaign, a project committed to unleashing the dreams, passions and potential of individuals around the world with brilliant ideas and technology.

The “Launching People” campaign identifies and invests in the potential of inspiring individuals across the globe. Together with Samsung’s support and access to advanced technology, this potential can be actualized. “We believe that technology only begins to have meaning when you put it in the hands of a human being and when this technology collides with people’s potential, amazing things can happen” said Sue Shim, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung. “Over the next year, we’ll work with people all over the world on new and exciting projects that launch people’s potential with the assistance of technology, helping people not only explore personal passions, but also inspire others.”

Starting with the launch from France in June of 2013, Samsung’s “Launching People” campaign will turn consumers’ dreams, passions and potential into reality in 13 regions in Europe, Latin America and Middle East in 2013, and expects to expand the campaign further in 2014. Samsung will focus on providing consumers the chance to realize their potential by teaming them up with renowned mentors, startup funding and products to help them on their journey.

Samsung will activate programs across the globe over the coming months. Through real consumer stories, Samsung will spread the word about “Launching People” on and across all social media channels, including Facebook and YouTube – promising to invest in not only technology, but in the potential of people everywhere with dreams and passions. For more information on the campaign, visit

Friday, October 18, 2013

Aamazon Tax Law Invalidated In New York

The Illinois Supreme Court had decided that a state law requiring online retailers, like Amazon, to collect sales tax if they have in-state Web affiliates violates federal tax regulations putting a discriminatory tax on digital sales. According to the Associated Press the court voted 6-1 to determine that the Illinois' 2011 "Main Street Fairness Act" was superseded by the federal law, which prohibits imposing a tax on "electronic commerce" and obligates collection that's not required of transactions by other means, such as print or television.

Illinois is one of several states that has imposed taxation on click-through-link or what is being called the "Amazon Tax". A legal regulation which required out-of-state retailers to collect state taxes on annual sales of more than $10,000 that involve in-state "affiliates," or website operators and bloggers, that draw consumers to the retailers' sites in exchange for a cut of each sale. Justice Anne Burke, writing for the court's majority, questioned whether there was any substantial difference between out-of-state businesses reaching Illinois consumers through a click-through-nexus approach or through other direct marketing approaches that aren't being taxed.

In her decision Burke wrote, "The click-through link makes it easier for the customer to reach the out-of-state retailer. But the link is not different in kind from advertising using promotional codes that appear, for example, in Illinois newspapers or Illinois radio broadcasts." Justice Lloyd Karmeier dissented, saying the federal law does not apply because the state statute doesn't "impose any new taxes or increase any existing taxes," but rather changes the definition of who's obligated to collect them.

The fight is far from over. The Illinois Department of Revenue, said it's considering asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. did just that in August, when it sought a review of the New York Court of Appeals' March ruling upholding the law there. The Empire State was among the first to argue that a business with "affiliates" within its borders gives the company a physical presence there — a must if a state hopes to collect taxes from it, according to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Amazon ended its affiliates program in several states including, California, New York and Illinois when the laws were originally adopted bypassing the some of the state requirements.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Facebook and Google Privacy Changes, What You Need To Know!

Earlier this week both Facebook and Google made several changes that will great impact your online ID and privacy. Google by way of a terms of service (TOS) change, and Facebook by means of removing a feature that once allowed users to block who can search their name when using Facebook's search bar.

Google's Shared Endorsements Can Use Your Name And Photos

Through an update to the search giants TOS Google can now share your photos and name if at some point in the past you gave a product or service a +1 on Google plus. The company revealed the changes to its Terms of Service on Friday highlighting the changes. The most important one is that Google clarified how your profile name and photo might appear in "Google products," including display ads. For customers that aren't currently 'opted out' of Google the old Google +1 Personalization settings you will now by default be opted into Shared Endorsements. Which means Google will have full use of your name, profile photo, and a personal endorsement that may appear in Google ads.

For users wishing to opt out you can do so through the Shared Endorsements settings on your Google profile. Google has also pointed users to its Ad Settings tool, for more granular control over what ads you see.

Facebook Search No Longer Blocks Search By Name

Facebook has confirmed it will be removing the "Who can look up your Timeline by name?" feature which was once used to block a users name from the site's search results. As a result any user can now be searched for using Facebook's search bar. In the blog post announcing the move Facebook also mentions the need for users wanting to keep personal details private need to keep an eye on post visibility settings. The new graph search will make more posts more visible making post privacy setting more important to users rather than search visibility.

In the coming weeks, people who are sharing posts publicly on Facebook will soon see a notice reminding them that those posts can be seen by anyone, including people they may not know. The notice reminds people how to change the audience for each post.

To quickly control who can find posts you shared in the past, visit the privacy settings page. With one click, you can limit the audience of posts you’ve shared in the past. This means any posts that were previously shared with Friends of Friends or Public will now be shared just to Friends.

Should These Changes Concern Me?

Anytime your personal privacy is involved you should be greatly concerned. The information collected and now shared via social media sites can be used against you in numerous ways. Either from people looking to do you personal harm, hackers looking to gain access to personal information to send privatized attacks or gain access to your identity or personal accounts, or just businesses looking to exploit the information they receive.

By and large these companies are over stepping their usage of your personal information for their own gains. As evidence of the recent lawsuit Facebook settled for the company's Sponsored Stories, to the tune of $20 million. Google amongst others have been on the end of a growing amount of Federal Trade Commission scrutiny. Clearly someone is taking notice out there and you should too!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Adobe Confirms Data On 2.9 million Customers Stolen In Hack

Adobe Systems confirmed on Thursday that hackers had breached several severs and databases accessing source code to the companies more popular software such as Adobe Acrobat. During the breach the hackers were also able to gain access to full user data, including credit card information on about 2.9 million customers accounts.

Adobe Chief Security Officer Brad Arkin said the company had been investigating the breach since its discovery two weeks ago and that it had no evidence of any attacks based on the theft. "Based on our findings to date, we are not aware of any specific increased risk to customers as a result of this incident," Arkin wrote on an Adobe blog.

Arkin said hackers also took information on 2.9 million Adobe customers, including their names, user identification numbers and encrypted passwords and payment card numbers.

Adobe has said it will be taking the following steps to ensure customers are aware of the attack and to prevent any further intrusions:
  • As a precaution, Adobe will be resetting relevant customer passwords to help prevent unauthorized access to Adobe ID accounts. If your user ID and password were involved, you will receive an email notification from us with information on how to change your password. It is also recommended that you change your passwords on any website where you may have used the same user ID and password.
  • The company is in the process of notifying customers whose credit or debit card information we believe to be involved in the incident. If your information was involved, you will receive a notification letter directly from Adobe with additional information on steps you can take to help protect yourself against potential misuse of personal information about you. Adobe is also offering customers, whose credit or debit card information was involved, the option of enrolling in a one-year complimentary credit monitoring membership where available.
  • The company has worked to notify the banks processing customer payments for Adobe, so that they can work with the payment card companies and card-issuing banks to help protect customers’ accounts.
  • Federal law enforcement has been contacted and the company is working closely with them assisting in their investigation.

What the Adobe Hack means to you!

Despite their steps to keep customers safe, this level of security breach should be a major concern for all those that may be impacted. We strongly suggest that anyone that has worked with Adobe's sites in the past immediately change their log-in information. Secondly anyone that has a credit card that could be on file with the company, whether you are contacted directly from Adobe or not, should be diligently monitoring their statements and transactions for any possible misuse. Third, and this can't be stated enough, be on the lookout for fake Adobe emails with malicious links. Often times hackers unassociated with the original breach will use news headlines to create phishing attacks. Sending legitimate looking emails to unsuspecting users trying to dupe them into visiting fake sites with malicious code. Always check those links, emails sources ect and never share any personal information once you are there.

Samsung Lays Best Buy Acquisition Rumors To Rest

Earlier this week rumors surfaced that Samsung may be looking to further its partnership with Best Buy. Perhaps going so far as acquiring a major stake in the company. Today Samsung has laid all those rumors to rest with a blog posting on their Samsung Tomorrow Blog.

The rumors and speculation followed a Korea Times report (which now appears to be offline) Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong said that he “recently met with senior executives at Best Buy and discussed pending business issues.” Analyst firm HMC Securities quickly jumped to conclusions and claimed this includes a proposed investment deal, since it claims Samsung “has been considering increasing subsidies paid to BestBuy.”

Samsung shot that suggestion down in a brief post on its blog:
In the past few days, there have been reports that 'Samsung is considering to acquire stakes in Best Buy'. Please take note that these rumors are not true. There have been no talks whatsoever regarding stock acquisition of either company.

While it now appears that the acquisition rumors may have been false the question still stands as to what the two companies may have been in talks over. Back in April of this year Samsung announced a relationship with Best Buy that resulted in Samsung Experience Shops being installed in over 1,400 Best Buy stores. The newest speculation is leaning towards the two companies looking to build upon that relationship potentially adding in Samsung based shops for other Samsung products such as appliances, TVs, or more.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Samsung 's HomeSync Media Center Set To Debut October 6th for $299

Samsung's HomeSync, which we got our first glimpse of at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, is finally making its way to the US market starting October 6th. The media hub/cloud storage device is a Jelly Bean-powered box that allows you to turn any HDMI equipped television into a "Smart TV" capable of syncing, sharing and streaming content from either the web or a mobile device directly to your TV.

Samsung HomeSync

Equipped with 1TB of storage the Samsung HomeSync is more media server than a simple media center. The device can be remotely accessed by Samsung Galaxy devices equipped with Samsung Link, the company's program for connecting and sharing content remotely via network access. That includes the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 8, the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1, and Galaxy Camera.

Users with compatible Galaxy devices can store, sync, and stream content directly from their mobile devices to their TVs while at home or on the go. It allows customers to use their Galaxy devices as remote controls to browse content on their TV, and users can mirror the HomeSync screen directly on their Galaxy devices. HomeSync will also feature support for wired or wireless mouse and keyboard, for standalone use as well as easier access to Web browsing, YouTube, apps, games and social networking.

HomeSync will start selling in the US for $299 on Sunday at Best Buy, Amazon and several other retailers. As part of its Galaxy Perks, Samsung said, users can register their HomeSync systems and get $50 to spend on movies and TV shows through Samsung Media Hub.

More details on Samsung's HomeSync

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Valve Wants To Change The Face Of Home Gaming

The popular gaming development company Valve, the brainchild behind Steam, has promised gamers three game changing announcements this week. We now have details of the first two, with the first being the new SteamOS and now the second being a new line of home gaming consoles known as Steam Machines.

Details as to what we can expect to see in the first round of Steam Machines is a bit sparse, but here’s what we know so far: The hardware beta, only includes Valve's version of the Steam Machine, there won't be options for different configurations from different manufactures at this time. All the machines will run the newly announced SteamOS.

The beta testing of the new devices will begin later this year with 300 lucky participants. To qualify for the early prototype, Steam users must complete Valve's "eligibility quest." That involves joining the Steam Universe community group; agreeing to the company's hardware beta terms and conditions; having or making at least 10 friends on Steam; creating a public Steam Community profile; and, lastly, playing a game with a gamepad using Steam's Big Picture mode.

Sign-ups have already opened and all of your steps must be done before October 25 to be eligible to receive a Steam Machine prototype and become eligible to participate in the hardware beta. Valve will choose the 300 participants, starting first with 30 individuals chosen based on past community contributions and beta participation while the rest will be random. 

As for Valve's third announcement, a new countdown kicked off just as today's expired, leaving another 48 hours before the final piece of news.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Google Explains Outages As "Dual Network Failure"

Google users may have experienced several delays with their email and possibly even other Google related services yesterday. While today things seem back to normal we now how a bit of an explanation as to what happened. Google has blamed the outage on "dual network failure", exactly what that might mean is as of yet completely unclear.

Google issued the official apology yesterday via the official Gmail Blog. The company explained that only 29% of messages were delayed by a couple of seconds, with only 1.5% of all messages being critically delayed by a couple of hours. The issue lasted for about 8 hours, starting at around 5:30 am PST. Additionally, the company went further in detail explaining what had happened, by issuing this statement:

On September 24th, many Gmail users received an unwelcome surprise: some of their messages were arriving slowly, and some of their attachments were unavailable. We’d like to start by apologizing—we realize that our users rely on Gmail to be always available and always fast, and for several hours we didn’t deliver. We have analyzed what happened, and we’ll tell you about it below. In addition, we’re taking several steps to prevent a recurrence.

The message delivery delays were triggered by a dual network failure. This is a very rare event in which two separate, redundant network paths both stop working at the same time. The two network failures were unrelated, but in combination they reduced Gmail’s capacity to deliver messages to users, and beginning at 5:54 a.m. PST messages started piling up. Google’s automated monitoring alerted the Gmail engineering team within minutes, and they began investigating immediately. Together with the networking team, the Gmail team restored some of the network capacity that was lost and worked to repurpose additional capacity, clearing much of accumulated message backlog by 1:00 p.m. PST and the remainder by shortly before 4:00 p.m. PST.

The impact on users’ Gmail experience varied widely. Most messages were unaffected—71% of messages had no delay, and of the remaining 29%, the average delivery delay was just 2.6 seconds. However, about 1.5% of messages were delayed more than two hours. Users who attempted to download large attachments on affected messages encountered errors. Throughout the event, Gmail remained otherwise available — users could log in, read messages which had been delivered, send mail, and access other features.

What’s next? Our top priority is ensuring that Gmail users get the experience they expect: fast, highly-available email, anytime they want it. We're taking steps to ensure that there is sufficient network capacity, including backup capacity for Gmail, even in the event of a rare dual network failure. We also plan to make changes to make Gmail message delivery more resilient to a network capacity shortfall in the unlikely event that one occurs in the future. Finally, we’re updating our internal practices so that we can more quickly and effectively respond to network issues. We’ll be working on all of these improvements and more over the next few weeks—even including this event, Gmail remains well above 99.9% available, and we intend to keep it that way!

For most users a Gmail outage is always a big deal, and a major concern. End users and companies alike are often affected and these delays can grind a company relying upon the service to a halt. Even though Gmail’s disruption was limited to a small portion of messages and service such as Google Docs and Google presentations – the company has confirmed there should be no loss of data, messages or otherwise and all services are now up and running smoothly.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Google Wallet Updated To Focus Less On NFC

Google has announced a newly updated version of Google Wallet is now available for 'all Android devices' running Android 2.3 or higher. The new app shows less focus on NFC dropping the previous requirements of an NFC chip with a secure element, something only Nexus devices and about 12 other, mostly Samsung phones had.

This new update makes the app compatible with the vast majority of Android handsets currently on the market and adds compatibility with several carrier devices that had all but been block. Carriers had been declaring all-out war on Google Wallet, with three of the big four (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) banning it outright from their phones in favor of ISIS, a competing solution that has yet to be released.

New App New Focus
 While Google really hasn't changed the way Wallet works. Paying for stuff at a terminal will still require you to have one of the select few phones with NFC and be using a carrier that hasn't banned it. What Google has done is add features that non-NFC equipped phones can use. You can now send money to an e-mail address, just like PayPal. There is also increased focus on the use of loyalty cards which can be scanned directly into the app. Several companies including Alaska Airlines, Belly, and Red Mango will allow you to join their program directly within the Google Wallet app. For these, and several upcoming merchants, you will be able to view your loyalty status, rewards point balance and in the coming days, Google Now will notify you when you have a saved loyalty program nearby.

Sending Money PayPal Style
Google recently announced the ability to send money in Gmail using Google Wallet. Now, with the Google Wallet app, you can easily and securely send money on the go much the same as you would with PayPal. As with PayPal it will be free to send money directly from your bank account or Google Wallet Balance, with what are promised to be low fees applied when using your linked credit or debit card.

Doing What Google Wallet Is Best At
One thing that hasn't changed much is the overall backbone of the new Google Wallet app. As mentioned you can still use NFC and a supported device (and carrier) to make payments. You can also see all your purchases made with Google Wallet in one place:
  • In-store purchases: If you have one of the 29 different NFC-enabled devices, you can continue to tap and pay at hundreds of thousands of US locations, while also enjoying the new Wallet features. We also have more NFC-enabled devices on the horizon as we continue to invest in NFC with our partners.
  • Online and mobile purchases: You can continue to speed through online shopping by using your Google Wallet account to pay on Google Play, select mobile websites or a growing set of Android apps.
You can download the new version of the Google Wallet app on the Google Play Store, which will begin rolling out this week in the US.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mobile Pwn2Own Offering $300K In Prizes Money

The second annual Mobile Pwn2Own contest will take place in Tokyo Japan on Nov. 13-14, TippingPoint announced on its company blog today. This year's event will offer participants up to $300,000 in prize money for those researchers who can successfully demonstrate attacks against mobile services and browsers.

This year’s Mobile Pwn2Own contest is offering the following prizes in the following categories: 
  • Short Distance/Physical Access ($50,000), either:
    • Bluetooth, or
    • Wi-Fi, or
    • Universal Serial Bus (USB), or
    • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Mobile Web Browser ($40,000)
  • Mobile Application/Operating System ($40,000)
  • Messaging Services ($70,000), either:
    • Short Message Service (SMS), or
    • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), or
    • Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)
  • Baseband ($100,000)
Contestants are allowed to select the target they wish to compromise during the pre-registration process.  The exact OS version, firmware and model numbers will be coordinated with the pre-registered contestants. The following targets are available for selection:
  • Nokia Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone
  • Microsoft Surface RT running Windows RT
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android
  • Apple iPhone 5 running iOS
  • Apple iPad Mini running iOS
  • Google Nexus 4 running Android
  • Google Nexus 7 running Android
  • Google Nexus 10 running Android
  • BlackBerry Z10 running BlackBerry 10
 In addition Google’s Chrome Security Team, in conjunction with the Chrome on Android team, is sponsoring a top-up reward for the Mobile Web Browser category. If a contestant successfully compromises Chrome on Android, either on Google Nexus 4 or Samsung Galaxy S4, the prize amount will be bumped by $10k to make it a total of $50,000.  There may be additional winners in the Mobile Web Browser category if the contestant is specifically targeting Chrome on Android, either on the Google Nexus 4 or Samsung Galaxy S4.

For those looking to enter the full contest rules are listed here. For those geeks that want to stay updated on the contest ZDI will be tweeting regular updates and news on Mobile Pwn2Own up to and during the contest. You can follow them at @thezdi on Twitter or search for the hash tag #pwn2own.

Facebook Settlement Finally Reached, Your $15 Check May Be In The Mail Soon

Remember a few years back when Facebook was hit with a class-action lawsuit over "sponsored stories." At the time of the lawsuit you may have been emailed a form to be a participant entitling you to a part of the cash award. After more than two years of deliberation, a U.S. federal judge in California has finally granted final approval for Facebook’s $20 million settlement, entitling those of you that didn't trash those emails to a minor monetary settlement.

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Angel Fraley et al., asserted that Facebook improperly used photos and names found on user profiles in Sponsored Story ads, which are created by users “liking” companies’ pages or content. The plaintiffs also argued that Facebook violated a California law that forbids companies from using people’s likenesses or names in advertisements without their consent. Finally, the suit asserted that Facebook should have received parental consent to use the names and likeness of any user under the age of 18.

Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook will pay $20 million to compensate class members, approximately $11 million of that will be doled out to the attorney's . Leaving behind roughly $9 million to be divided amongst the approximately 614,000 Facebook users who appeared in Sponsored Stories without their consent, and filed the necessary paperwork to join the class action lawsuit by the May 2, 2013 deadline. In addition to the monetary payment Facebook also promised to give users more control over how their content is shared.

See the full order of final settlement below:

Fraley v. Facebook: Order Granting Final Approval (Document 359)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Gear and Updated Galaxy Note 10.1

At today's 2013 Unpacked event held during IFA in Berlin, Samsung "Unpacked" three new devices. The new larger, more powerful Galaxy Note 3, an updated Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition and the highly anticipated Galaxy Gear Smartwatch.

Galaxy Note 3

For 2013 the Galaxy Note 3 has been upgraded with a new larger 5.7" Full HD Super AMOLED screen, large capacity 3,200mAh battery, a high performance 2.3 Ghz Quad-core CPU and 3GBs of ram all while dropping the size and weight at 8.3mm thick and just 168g. There is also an all new 13MP camera will feature 1080p recoding with some models featuring UHD 4k video capabilities. There is also an all new High CRI flash and Smart Stabilization. Powering the device will be Android 4.3.

The Note 3 will feature a new improved S-Pen with several enhancements including S-Finder to automatically search your device for keywords related to content, media, dates and location. A new Action Memo app which allows you to hand write a note and automatically execute a function, or convert handwritten information into formatted content.

Multitasking will be improved with a new multi-window feature that allows you to run multiple apps, or multiple instances of the same app in separate screens. A newly added feature dubbed Pen Window will allow you to draw, and open a new window box for your secondary apps.

The externals of the Note 3 receive a major update as well featuring a new leather bound back cover that will come in three stock color options: Jet Black, Classic White and Blush Pink. There will also be numerous case options featuring several new colors and designs.

The Note 3 will be available in 32GB or 64GB internal storage along with an additional microSD card slot, and will be launching in the U.S. later this year on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular

See more at: Samsung Tomorrow

Galaxy Gear

The new Galaxy Gear (companion device) Smartwatch will combine seamless integration with your Galaxy smartphone with features, and design of premium accessory. The device will feature several integrated apps alongside device syncing capabilities.

It notifies users of incoming messages, such as calls, texts, emails and alerts, delivers a preview of those messages and creates the opportunity for users to accept or discreetly ignore those messages. When an incoming message requires more than a quick glance, users can simply pick up their Samsung GALAXY devices and the Smart Relay feature will instantly reveal the full content on their device's screen.

The Galaxy Gear will feature a built-in speaker allowing users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear and Bluetooth technology to maintain connections to their mobile device. Users can also draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather on the Galaxy Gear thanks to Samsung's S Voice.

In addition to smart device controls, the Galaxy Gear introduces several on-device features for stand alone use. There will be an integrated Memographer feature, a 1.9 Megapixel camera, capable of recording both photos and video. Extending the quick-record concept, Voice Memo lets users capture important thoughts or conversations from their wrists and save those voice recordings into texts on their compatible Samsung Galaxy devices.

The Galaxy Gear currently supports the Galaxy Note 3 with plans on updated support for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and more devices at a later date. The watch will be available in six new colors: Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green and is launching alongside the Note 3 later this year.

See more at: Samsung Tomorrow

Galaxy Note 10.1

The new Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition, will come equipped with a 10.1" WQXGA LCD touchscreen featuring a 2560×1600 resolution. It will be powered by a 2.3GHZ Quad-core processor and 3GB RAM and will run Android 4.3. The tablet will include an updated S Pen that improves responsiveness, delivers day-to-day efficiency enhancements and produces more creative input capabilities. The tablet also includes GALAXY Note 3's updated S Pen features such as Action Memo, Scrapbook, Screen Write and S Finder.

The GALAXY Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) will come in three connectivity options: WiFi Only, WiFi and 3G, WiFi and LTE, available in 16/32/64GB + Micro SD. Comes with two color options, Jet Black and Classic White, the GALAXY Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) will be offered globally and will be available starting from Q3, 2013.

See more at: Samsung Tomorrow

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Apple Promises To "Brighten Everyone's Day" With Sept. 10 iPhone Event Invites

Apple fans can officially mark their calenders for the next big Apple announcement as it has been confirmed today that the company has sent out the official press invites for a major announcement next Tuesday, September 10. While the invite doesn't provide specifics the tech world is expecting to see the next iPhone.

This year's tagline is relatively simple and a bit more elusive than years past which had at least hinted at a which devices we may see. The invite features a number of colored dots and simply states "This should brighten everyone's day." It is expected that Apple will be unveiling multiple devices on the day, including a lower-cost iPhone “5C” as it’s been dubbed in the press, as well a more expensive iPhone 5 successor, possibly called the iPhone 5S. The 5S is supposed to have an improved camera, as well as improved internals and a new gold color option, while the iPhone 5C will reportedly feature a plastic backing with internals essentially unchanged from the iPhone 5. Given the graphic depiction of multi-colored dots on the event invite speculation is that the new iPhone hardware will feature different color casings.

The event is taking place at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino Sept 10th and begins at 10 a.m. PST. Stay tuned for more details on how to watch as it is unclear at this point if Apple will be offering a live video stream of the event.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Upcoming Samsung Unpacked Event to Include New Galaxy Gear Smartwatch and Galaxy Note 3

When Samsung first announced the Sept 4th Unpacked event in August, speculation quickly began that the company would choose the date for the launch of the highly anticipated Galaxy Note 3. After-all Samsung all but confirmed it with the hint "Note the date." Rumors then quickly turned towards another device debuting at the same time. A smartwatch dubbed Galaxy Gear.

Today we have full confirmation that we'll see both device debuting at the Berlin event being held in conjunction with the IFA Consumer Electronics Fair. In an exclusive interview with The Korea Times, Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business confirmed the news.

"We will be introducing a new wearable device concept called Galaxy Gear at our own event in Berlin on Sept. 4," Younghee Lee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, told the paper. The Galaxy Gear will have a non-flexible display, she said, adding that it "will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways."

Lee also confirmed that a Galaxy Note3 will make its international debut at IFA. But she declined to comment about specific details about the new phablet — a term devised by the company that means a combination of smartphone and tablet.

“Samsung opened a new smart mobile device category back in 2011 with the introduction of the first Galaxy Note. Since then, smartphones with large screens have been a mainstream trend. As the creator of this category, we will introduce our customers to enhanced key features on our Galaxy Note devices.”

For now official details about either device are fairly scarce however rumors suggest the new Note 3 will support a larger 5.9-inch OLED screen, a Qualcomm 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip, 3GB of RAM, and a 13MP rear camera that may feature optical image stabilization.

For those wanting to be get the first peek at the new devices checkout the Samsung Unpacked Event Sept 4th which will be steamed live via Samsung Mobile's YouTube page.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sony: PS4 Launching Nov.15th Priced at $399

During the Gamescom game industry convention in Cologne, Germany Sony confirmed the release date and pricing of the company's next-generation video game console, the PlayStation 4. According to their press conference the new gaming unit will ship November 15th with a starting price tag of $399.

Playstation 4

For those gaming geeks looking to be amongst the first to own the new PS4 Walmart has already confirmed, starting Saturday, August 24, customers can visit Walmart stores nationwide to pre-order the console. "We know millions of our customers can't wait to get their hands on the Xbox One and PS4," said Laura Phillips, senior vice president of Entertainment for Walmart U.S. "As the current market share leader in video game hardware and accessories, customers can trust Walmart to have the latest gaming consoles and new releases available at a great low price."

Customers simply need to see an associate in the Electronics department and take the following steps to secure the PS4:

  • Provide a 10 percent down payment – $40 for PS4.
  • Make payments over time or in full when the console becomes available.
  • Pick up the console on the launch date. Walmart will hold pre-ordered consoles for customers wanting more time to pay it off until December 13, 2013.
According to Sony they hope to have more than 33 titles available for PS4 by December, including NBA 2K14, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Skylanders Swap Force, Need for Speed: Rivals, Battlefield 4, Madden 25, FIFA 14, NBA Live, Killzone: Shadow Fall, #DRIVECLUB, Knack, Assassins Creed IV Black Flag, Watch_Dogs, Just Dance 2014 and Lego Marvel Super Heroes.

Sony also dropped the price of its PlayStation Vita mobile gaming console from $249 to $199, though didn't specify if the $299 PS Vita model, which also features 3G network connectivity, will have a similar price drop to the $249 Wi-Fi version.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Google Officially Working On Fix For Google Play "Package File Invalid" Error

Android users trying to update or download apps from the Google Play store may have noticed a rather annoying issue over the past week or so. An error that seemingly strikes at random shows a “Package file is invalid” or error code 497 message box. The rather nondescript error show up at random intervals no matter what app you are downloading or updating. Sometimes the error happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

While these kind of problems often are app, device or operating system specific, that does appear to be the case here. The problem seems to have to do with corrupted Play Store data, and according to Google, they are aware of the issue and looking for a permanent fix. Google Support has now put up a page for the Package File Invalid error (#10230007), which it will keep updated as it learns more and comes up with a solution.

Several of the most popular Android forums have users offering fixes, ranging from clearing app data and cache for Google Play to removing the proxy address from your APN, to using a VPN proxy but none of these suggestions seem to be a universal fix. Several users, myself included, have seen no issue at all. Confusing the situation even more.

For now it appears as though there are no real fixes at this point. So what should you do in the meantime? Our best advice is to wait a bit after receiving the error and try again. If it is an essential need there are reports that switching your connection type after encountering the error, such as going from Wi-Fi to mobile data (or vice versa) has worked. Another option would simply be searching for the Apps APK files and side-loading the application that way.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Get Your Geek On With YouTube's Geek Week August 4 - 10

Geeks rule!! Come get your geek on this week with YouTube first ever Geek Week from Aug. 4 to 10. Showcasing different genres of geek culture and hosted by a different YouTube channel, with a special video introduction and the launch of new content, Geek Week will be the ultimate celebration of the geekdom!

The event will showcase more than 100 popular channels, unveil new videos and trailers such as Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" on Super Wednesday.

  • Blockbuster Sunday: A celebration of iconic characters, movies, and shows that define geek culture, with a special spotlight placed on the best original YouTube sci-fi, fantasy, and animated videos. Hosted by FreddieW in the U.S., with new content from Tomska in the U.K.
  • Global Geekery Monday: Explore geek culture from around the world with anime from Tokyo, comic book heroes from Delhi, and a celebration of the U.K.'s Doctor Who. Hosted by YOMYOMF in the U.S., with a special new episode of the British cult children's show Knightmare.
  • Brainiac Tuesday: A focus on science, education, and knowledge channels that make YouTube the world's biggest platform for learning. Hosted by Veritasium and The Spangler Effect in the U.S., with an "epic" stunt from Head Squeeze and Flow in the U.K.
  • Super Wednesday: Explore superheroes, the supernatural, and the super-weird. Hump Day also marks the exclusive release of the trailer for Marvel's Thor: The Dark World. Hosted by Stan Lee's World of Heroes in the U.S., with an "unbelievable" stunt from Fast Furious & Funny in the U.K.
  • Gaming Thursday: A gamer's paradise filled with life play-throughs, real-life video games, game-inspired original series, and more. Hosted by Machinima and Maker Studios' Polaris in the U.S., with a Guinness World Records gaming attempt live stream from the U.K.
  • Fan Friday: Sci-fi-themed cooking, cosplay, and nerd debates. Hosted by Felicia Day of Geek and Sundry in the U.S., with an ultimate geeky quiz by Crabstickz from the U.K.

For those of you looking for a bit more YouTube promises the 3l33t geeks out there, that they will features Easter eggs all week, and badges from the eggs and select #geekweek videos when logged in and visiting

Monday, July 29, 2013

Google Updates Zagat With New Site, Mobile Apps And Free Access

Google has introduced a new Zagat website and mobile app for Android and iPhone that puts the very best restaurants and nightspots right at your fingertips. And for the first time ever the popular site and trusted Zagat ratings and reviews are available for free with no registration required!

“I think it was clear to all of us involved that that was the logical next step in bringing this experience to people,” says Gannon Hall, Group Product Manager and Head of Zagat. “It’s not about paying for information or creating registration barriers. We want to surface this content. It comes down to focusing on the user and what makes a good experience. It was very clear to us that we should remove those barriers.”

The new Zagat currently covers restaurants and nightlife in nine cities, and over the coming months Google has said it plans to expand to 50 U.S. and international destinations and cover shopping, hotels and other places of interest. Today, the site only covers San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Google also plans to expand the range of reviews to include hotels, shopping and “other places of interest,” something the printed Zagat guides have been doing for a while now.

The new site, Google says, will also feature news and video content from local editors, as well as curated lists, improved search and map-based browsing. You will also be able to make reservations through Open Table and read menus before you arrive at the restaurant. The website, of course, still lets you participate in the usual Zagat surveys.

 Source: Official Google Blog

Amazon Hiring 5,000 New Workers For Fulfillment Centers Across The US

The economy may be stagnate and job may be in short order but that isn't stopping Amazon from showing growth and therefore needing a few extra hands. The online retail giant announced announced that it's looking to fill more than 5,000 new full-time jobs in 17 of its fulfillment centers across the United States. So if you happen to live in a city where Amazon has a fulfillment center, it's time to dust off that resume and head over for an interview.

“We’re hiring more than 5,000 people to join our team and help us continue to innovate and serve our customers,” said Dave Clark, vice president of worldwide operations and customer service at Amazon. “We’re focused on sustained innovation across Amazon and want to help our employees succeed—whether at Amazon or elsewhere—so we offer programs like Career Choice, where we’ll pay for up to 95% of eligible employees’ tuition regardless of whether the skills they learn are relevant to a career at Amazon.”

According to the announcement these jobs come with decent pay with positions paying 30 percent more than traditional retail jobs and include comprehensive benefits beginning on day one, including healthcare, 401(k) and company stock awards. Amazon also offers employees innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay up to 95% of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Fulfillment network jobs are currently available in:

  • Breinigsville, Pa.
  • Middletown, Del.
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • Charleston, S.C.
  • Patterson, Calif.
  • Chester, Va.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Coppell, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Haslet, Texas
  • San Bernardino, Calif.
  • Hebron, Ky.
  • Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Tracy, Calif.
  • Jeffersonville, Ind.

Candidates can learn more about the open positions and apply at

Amazon is also currently hiring for more than 2,000 jobs across its customer service network, which include a mix of full-time, part-time and seasonal positions. Amazon customer service jobs include providing world-class customer service for Amazon’s millions of customers. Customer service jobs are currently available at customer service centers in: Grand Forks, N.D., Kennewick, Wash., Huntington, W.V., Winchester, Ky.

For those that don't live in any of the areas mentioned above Amazon is also looking to fill several telecommuting postilions for those that like to work from home. The positions are for Amazon’s customer service team and are currently available in Oregon, Washington and Arizona. Candidates can learn more about the open positions and apply at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Google Announces New Nexus 7 Tablet, Android 4.3 and Chromecast HD Video Dongle

Google officially took the wraps off of several new products earlier today in an event in San Francisco. Topping the list are a brand new Nexus 7 tablet and an updated Android 4.3 operating system.

Google's new, much anticipated, 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet will see several major improvements over the previous generation tab. First is a major screen improvement going from a screen offering 1280 x 800 resolution in the prior model to 1920 x 1200 pixels in the new one and from 216 pixels per inch (ppi) to 323 ppi. The RAM will also see a jump going from 1GB to 2 GB. It also adds dual stereo speakers, and a CPU that Google says is twice as fast and a graphics processor that is four times as fast, as the previous generation model. The new Nexus 7 will be available for preorder beginning Tuesday and the Wi-Fi versions launch on July 30th. The tablet will come in three flavors: A 16GB Wi-Fi-only model for $229, a 32GB Wi-Fi-only model for $269, and a 32GB LTE-capable model for $349.

While the new Nexus 7 was much anticipated an even more anticipated portion of the announcement was the forth coming release of the latest version of the Android operating system Android 4.3 JellyBean. The new OS is adding support for low-power Bluetooth devices such as health sensors that can display data on your smartphone or tablet. Android 4.3 will also feature support for OpenGL ES 3.0, a graphics API that will vastly improve Android tablets’ graphics capabilities and should be a major boon for Android game developers. Finally, Android 4.3 has a new feature that lets you segment off access to different areas of the tablet to different users, such as parents who want to restrict their children’s access to adult content.

Last but not least was the introduction of a new wireless TV dongle dubbed Chromecast. With this HDMI based dongle Google is looking to make it easier to turn your dumb TVs into smart TV by allowing you to stream your favorite online entertainment to your TV. Chromecast is a small and affordable ($35) device that you simply plug in to your high-definition (HD) TV and it allows you to use your phone, tablet or laptop to "cast" online content to your TV screen. It works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music, with more apps like Pandora coming soon. Chromecast not only allows you to view online videos but allows users to send emails or surf the web—while enjoying what’s on the TV screen. It works across multiple platforms from Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, to Chrome for Mac and Windows.

For more details on today's announcement visit the Google Chrome Blog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

AT&T Next To Offer Unsubsidized Phones, Faster Upgrade Options

Earlier this month AT&T promised to let us know "What's Next" for AT&T with little more than a photo telling us to “get ready for what’s next in wireless.” What exactly that meant wasn't entirely clear until today. AT&T’s big news is a new early upgrade, unsubsidized smartphone option for those customers who want to upgrade their device as frequently as once a year. This new offering, called AT&T Next, won’t replace the other upgrade options currently offered by the carrier, and will work with existing data plans.

Details of the plan are as follows: To use AT&T Next, AT&T subscribers agree to pay a monthly fee for their device on top of their regular AT&T service plan. Monthly fees range from $15-$50; a Samsung Galaxy S 4 costs $32 per month. Customers must agree to make 20 payments. After 12 payments, you can trade in your device and get a new one, and the clock starts again. There are no activation or upgrade fees. After 20 payments, the device is paid off. There doesn't appear to be a contract for service, only for the device itself. If you want out, you can pay off the device price early.

This appears to be a win win for AT&T in that the company no longer has to pay subsidies - which currently amass to $440 on a Galaxy S 4 with a two-year contract. A customer can current get the phone for $199 and be stuck in a contract, at the AT&T Next pricing the same customer will only pay $380 before they are eligible for an upgrade or $640 total. This means over a two-year period someone with an AT&T Next Galaxy S 4 will pay $440 more than a subsidzed customer if they don't upgrade early. If they do upgrade early then AT&T gets to capture the resale value of the used phones, rather than consumers reusing or reselling them on their own. Customers who want to upgrade in months 13 or 14, and who don't resell their own used phones, will find big savings here, though.

While the deal clearly isn't "great" for consumers, it is nice to see more options coming from the big three carriers.

Source: AT&T Newsroom

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nissan Unveils World's Fastest Electric Car

Just before the start of the 2013 24-hour LeMans race this weekend, Nissan revealed the ZEOD RC electric car. Dubbed the world's fastest electric car, topping out at 185 MPH, the ZEOD is a zero emissions full electric race car which the company hopes to race in next year's 24-hour LeMans race.

ZEOD stands for "zero emissions, on demand," and utilizes the same lithium-ion batteries as the Nissan Leaf electric car. The prototype is the brainchild of the company's Nismo racing division (creator of the all-electric Nismo RC) which plans to enter it in the so-called Garage 56 class, reserved for vehicles that showcase breakthrough technology.

Launched in 2010, the Nissan LEAF has become the world's best-selling all-electric car. The LEAF won the 2010 Green Car Vision Award, the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year, and the 2011–2012 Car of the Year Japan. Nissan launched the Nissan LEAF RC in 2011 – a race car prototype powered by the same 107-hp electric motor that is used in the road car.

While current battery technology does not provide the energy storage capacity to race a solely electric Le Mans prototype, Nissan ZEOD RC designer Ben Bowlby believes the development of the car will be an important step in the "electrification" of the race cars of the future. Nissan said it will test a variety of types and combinations of electric motors and gasoline engines in the ZEOD RC before the car hits the LeMans race track in 2014. Meaning even though the car is currently an electric only variant they may run it as a hybridized version.

The Nissan ZEOD RC will make its testing debut later this summer. Nissan's assault on the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hour will again target victory in the P2 class with 15 of the 22 entries powered by Nissan. In the opening rounds of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, Nissan has dominated, taking victory at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.

Source: Nissan

Monday, June 17, 2013

Celebrate Small Business Week, Visit A Small Business Or Website Near You!

While every week can be considered small business week at the millions of small businesses and website across America. Positive recognition and the chance to be noticed is always nice. National Small Business Week, which kicks off today, aims at doing just that. Recognize the contributions that small business across the country make.

First held in 1963 by the order of President John F. Kennedy, the annual event is a celebration that serves as commercial and political platform highlighting some of the challenges faced by small business owners. Events hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration will be held in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Each city will offer tips, tools and trainings for small businesses to start, succeed and grow. Also, in Washington, D.C., June 21, award winners from across the country, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be recognized for their accomplishments.

In addition to in-person events, small business owners can participate in online-only panel discussions on hot topics like social media and business financing starting daily at 4pm ET. All events, in-person and online, will be streamed live on Also visit this site for a full schedule of events and additional information.

The event hashtag is #SBW2013.

Small Business Week 2013 sponsors include: Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Microsoft, National Association of the Self Employed (NASE), Arlington Texas Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, ADP, Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network, Staples, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., Visa, Women Impacting Public Policy, Lockheed Martin, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, Business Forward and Office Depot.