Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Skype Shows Off Browser Plug-In For Outlook.com Calling

Microsoft is showing off a preview version of a new browser based Skype plugin for Outlook.com which allows users to make calls and send instant messages directly from the Outlook.com webmail. The Skype for Outlook.com preview will initially roll out in the United Kingdom and will be made available in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks. In the coming months, audio and video calling powered by Skype will be available in every Outlook.com inbox.

Skype for Outlook.com requires a one-time download of a plugin for your browser (available for the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox). After you download the plugin, simply connect Skype to Outlook.com using your Microsoft account.

Customers with an existing Skype account will be asked to link Skype and Outlook.com in a few simple steps. Just merge your Microsoft and Skype accounts and you’re off and running. This will also allow you to add all of your Skype contacts to Outlook.com contacts.

For more details on the new service checkout the Skype Blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Google Street View Adds Hungary and Lesotho Marking Its 50th Countries

Google Street View is celebrating a milestone of sorts, reaching the 50 country mark with the launch of Street View in Hungary and Lesotho. The company says this most recent update is also the largest single update of Street View imagery ever pushed, including new and updated imagery for nearly 350,000 miles of roads across 14 countries.

Google originally launched Street View in 2007 in five U.S. cities as a new Google Maps feature that showed users a 360-degree view from the streets of select cities. Today the service features thousands of cities and villages worldwide, from Antarctica to Australia, from South Korea to South Africa, from the snow-capped peaks of Everest to the Great Barrier Reef. Street View has even been updated to allow users to view things like their favorite ski slopes as well as outdoor attractions like theme parkshttp://www.geek-news.net/2012/05/using-street-view-to-preview-your.html. You can even navigate indoors with businesses sharing photos of certain locations.

In all more than 5 million miles of the world can be previewed with the newest update to Street View.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Adobe Lightroom 5 Public Beta Now Available

For the serious camera buffs out there Adobe's Lightroom is likely one of the many must have tools in your toolkit. However for the average geek or the beginning photographer you may not yet be familiar with the software. Today that can all change, and even better, for free!

Adobe has announced that it will be making the Lightroom 5 Beta now available as a free download at labs.adobe.com. All you need to do is have or create a free Adobe account. Simply supply a bit of personal information and a valid email, and you are in! The new release doesn't add a ton of head-turning changes like its predecessor, but it does offer a would be users some serious tools that are definitely worthy of the download time. Users will find useful tools like a more capable healing brush, new perspective corrections, Smart Previews for more efficient editing, and video slideshow creation.

You can install it on a PC running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8, or on a Mac with OS X 10.7 Lion and later. The company is encouraging beta testers to leave comments at http://feedback.photoshop.com after downloading the free Lightroom 5 Beta from labs.adobe.com. The beta expires on June 30, 2013, which makes me suspect that we'll see the full released version around that time, if not before. Adobe has yet to release any pricing details on the new release, for now that doesn't really matter though since the beta is free.

Microsoft Teams With Lionsgate For The Hunger Games Explorer Web Experience, Internet Explorer Not Needed

The much anticipated second film in the blockbuster The Hunger Games franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is set for release November 22, Microsoft and the Internet Explorer team has teamed up with Lionsgate to bring fans a new highly interactive web experience dubbed The Hunger Games Explorer.

The first trailer for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has been added to YouTube after premiering during last night’s telecast of the MTV Movie Awards. Following that launch Lionsgate debuted the new new site which features a customizable fan experience allowing visitors to tailor and filter content which includes fan blogs and tweets along side official content straight from Lionsgate, including trailers, exclusive videos, photos of the cast and more.

“We have the best fans in the world, and starting tonight they have a home on the web where they can be a part of The Hunger Games experience and contribute to the excitement for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” said Danielle De Palma, senior vice president digital marketing, Lionsgate. “The Hunger Games Explorer is not only a place for fans to spark the conversation around Catching Fire, it is also a destination for us to continue to provide fans with new content, experiences and unprecedented behind the scenes access.”

The  Hunger Games Explorer site showcases a responsive web design, multi-touch and HTML5, meant to promote Windows 8 with IE10, as well as other modern platforms across the web. However Internet Explorer is not needed to explore the site. It runs perfectly flawlessly with both Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Facebook Home Now Available, Looks Like A Security And Privacy Nightmare

Facebook's newly introduced Facebook Home UI for Android is now available for those owners of the HTC First, HTC One X, HTC One X+, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The new Android launcher aims to bring a more "people-centric" view to your device and offers several changes and a more Facebook centric experience to Android.

For those that haven't had a chance to review the feature of the new app here is a quick rundown of what to expect. When you turn on a phone running Facebook Home, the lock screen and the home screen default to something called Cover feed. Cover feed is a running steeam from your News Feed, complete with post and images showing what your friends are currently sharing on their Facebook profiles. You will also see push notifications. These include updates from Facebook and other apps on your home screen. You can choose to move notifications away until you want to access them later or you can flick them away from view.

In addition to the Facebook centric side of the launcher you'll see a new app launcher that overwrites your standard view. From your profile bubble you'll be able to launch your phones apps, Facebook apps or even the messenger app.

Facebook Home Security and Privacy

When it was initially announced Facebook home faced sever scrutiny over privacy concerns, prompting Facebook to issue a response. This response however is very short sided and doesn't address any on device concerns. It more or less only address your concerns about how and what Facebook shares. The major concern should be with how the app handles security on the device, which is very poorly.

I download the app today and ran it on my Galaxy S III. Immediately I noticed you don't need to unlock the screen to see any of my friends or their posts. I re-adjusted my setting only to see that even with the highest level of protection my GS III offers (password), anyone with access to my phone did so in a totally unlocked state. This means not only can they see and comment on my Facebook (or my friends) they had total access to my personal info on my phone. COMPLETE CONTROL!

Needs to say I un-installed it as soon as I could! If you want to try to give it a go and see what I'm talking about for yourself visit the Google Play store.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Samsung Experience Shops Coming To Best Buy

Best Buy brick and mortar shoppers will soon see something new, a Samsung branded "Experience Shop" in the aisles at select Best Buy locations.

Samsung and Best Buy have announced the opening of Samsung Experience Shops in 1,400 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores across the U.S. These shops within a shop will allow customers to explore, purchase, activate, and receive service on a wide range of Samsung devices including mobile products, laptops, cameras TV and accessories.

The SES stores are  going to feature Samsung Employees, specifically trained and equipped to handle Samsung specific questions. The stores will stock and support a full range of mobile products, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, connected cameras, and accessories, all available in a single location within Best Buy.

"Samsung has been delivering the latest innovation across the consumer electronics category for some time," said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Telecommunications America. "With the Samsung Experience Shops, we are ensuring consumers get the most of that innovation by learning how to leverage their mobile devices across our ecosystem of consumer electronics. Consumers will have one place to not only explore and learn about our full portfolio of mobile products, but also the support of a Samsung expert to help with selecting and servicing them. This will truly be a unique mobile shopping experience."

These specialized shops will vary in size, the largest being around 460 square feet. Larger shops will showcase a "Samsung Connected Solutions" area to demonstrate Samsung devices being connected to and sharing content with each other.

You can find more details, as well as location information on the Samsung Experience BestBuy.com landing page.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

European Regulators Investigating Google Over Privacy Concerns

Google may soon be facing a new legal threat from across the pond as regulators from six European countries launch investigations over online data protection and privacy concerns.

Authorities in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. have voiced concerns over privacy policy changes Google enacted back in 2012. So far the search giant has refusing to reverse changes to its privacy policies leading regulators to take potential action which resulted int he regulators resolving to conduct investigations or inspections of Google's privacy policy. The precise nature of the actions will depend on how the European Data Protection Directive has been transposed in their respective national laws, however it could result in stiff penalties and fines. There is even the potential for regulators to sue to block Google from operating in Europe.

After the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) investigation concluded in October, CNIL said in a statement on Tuesday that "the EU Data protection authorities asked Google to comply with their recommendations within four months," . "After this period has expired, Google has not implemented any significant compliance measures."

The agencies complained that Google was not doing enough to comply with EU regulations and have stonewalled the agencies requests for over a year about their concerns that its unification of more than 60 separate privacy policies last year could confuse users and leave them unsure how their data was being used.

"We put our concerns to Google [in October] and gave them a date to respond," said a spokesperson for the ICO. "They failed to respond. We had a meeting in March and Google was present, and gave them a deadline to respond. They failed to respond. Google has failed to address the concerns or take on board the recommendations from the meeting held last month."

The UK's information commissioner's office (ICO) can levy fines of up to £500,000 ($756,400) for breaches of the Data Protection Act. A decision is expected by summer 2013.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fools Day Around The Web

April Fools day always marks a great day for tech geeks. Most of our favorite sites come up with some often unique, often surprising, and occasionally scary ideas. Aprils Fools 2013 has been no different.

Here are a few of our favorites:

: The search engine giant always comes up with some unique pranks. This year they told us YouTube was an eight year long contest and would be shutting down. Sunday morning, the day before April Fool's, YouTube posted a post titled, "YouTube's ready to select a winner." In it, employees from YouTube explain that, starting at midnight tonight, the site will go offline. They'll then begin narrowing down the best video, with a winner announced when YouTube goes back online in -- wait for it -- 2023.

"We're so close to the end," explains YouTube's "Competition Director," Tim Liston, in the video's opening scene. "Tonight at midnight, YouTube.com will no longer be accepting entries. After eight amazing years, it is finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner."

They followed that up with Google Nose a new service in beta that “leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available”.

SwiftKey: The popular smartphone add-on introduced SwiftKey Tilt, described as a “whole-body typing experience” by the company. SwiftKey Tilt works by using a pinball that moves across the keyboard, using the smartphone’s accelerometer. The accelerometer is targeted by the user’s moves, and when the pinball hits a prediction, you get a word.

Twitter: The popular social media site has has announced it will no longer allow the use of vowels in tweets. The service says that by eliminating vowels, they are helping users to a "more efficient, and 'dense' form of communication."