Friday, December 26, 2014

Facebook Message Scanning Lawsuit - What You Need to Know!

Earlier this week U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton passed down a ruling that Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit in which the social media site is accused of violating its users' privacy by scanning the content of messages they sent to other users for advertising purposes.

At the heart of the lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2013, are allegations that Facebook actively scanned the content of private messages sent between users for links to websites and would then count any links in a tally of "likes" of the pages. These "likes" would then be used to compile user profiles, which in turn were used for building a database that was used for delivering targeted advertising to its users.

In basic terms, Facebook would use tools to read private messages for the most popular links being shared across its own site, even if they were sites or pages not within Facebook. That information would then be used to target advertising to each user. This data most likely would also be shown to prospective advertisers to help bolster sales of advertising via Facebook allowing them to profit from your personal information.

The complaint, filed by Facebook user Matthew Campbell, alleged that the scanning of these private messages violated both federal and California state law. Facebook had originally argued that the alleged scanning of its users' messages was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business. However, judge Hamilton dismissed those claims stating that Facebook had "not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business."

The case is Campbell v. Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 13-5996 and seeks class action status on behalf of all U.S. users who sent or received private messages that included website addresses in their content. As reported by Bloomberg the suit is seeking as much as $10,000 in damages for each user and could benefit all users of the site.

Facebook is not alone in facing these allegations. Lawsuits against Internet companies and social networks are multiplying as more users become more aware of how much personal information these sites are collecting, how they are using it and how they are revealing it to third parties, often without end user knowledge. Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. also are facing accusations of intercepting communications for their profit at the expense of users or non-users.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Amazon Offering $220 Worth of Apps For Free Beginning December 24th

Christmas will come a day early this year thanks to Amazon, as the company will be offering customers a ton of free apps as part of what they are calling the 'largest Free App of the Day bundle ever'! The bundle includes apps and games from developers like Halfbrick Studios, Rovio Entertainment and Sega of America, which range in price from $0.99 to $64.99, all for free!

Starting December 24th and running until December 26th, Amazon Appstore will offer a number of paid apps and games for free, as part of the largest Free App of the Day bundle ever. The bundle includes apps and games from developers like Halfbrick Studios, Rovio Entertainment and Sega of America, which range in price from $0.99 to $64.99, all for free—saving customers up to $220. Also starting today, and for a limited time, when customers buy or gift Amazon Coins, they can get up to a 30% discount on their overall Coins purchase—up to triple the normal savings to spend on apps, games and in-app items, like card packs in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, gold in Game of War-Fire Age, lollipop hammers in Candy Crush Saga and gems in Brave Frontier. Throughout the remainder of December and into the New Year, customers will find 50-85% discounts on titles from developers like Disney, Gameloft and Sony Pictures Television. Find out more at and download the Amazon App at

In addition to the loads of freebies Amazon wil also be offering customers several other exciting deals including up to 50% off Holiday and Kids movies and TV shows and up to 85% off popular Kindle books from best-selling authors. For more details checkout Amazon's full press release and be sure to check back on Wednesday December 24th to get all your free apps!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

iPhone 6, Robin Williams and World Cup Top Google's 2014 Search Trends

It is that time of year again when Google releases the company's annual list of the most popular  searches that its users have collectively searched for the most over the past 12 months. As per usual the list is broken down into several categories of interest. However the few that interest us geeks the most are listed below!

Overall top search trends of 2014:
  1. Robin Williams
  2. World Cup
  3. Ebola
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Flappy Bird
  7. Conchita Wurst
  8. ISIS
  9. Frozen
  10. Sochi Olympics

And trending consumer tech:
  1. iPhone 6
  2. Samsung Galaxy S5
  3. Nexus 6
  4. Moto G
  5. Samsung Note 4
  6. LG G3
  7. Xbox One
  8. Apple Watch
  9. Nokia X
  10. iPad Air
Interestingly enough smartphones and wearable tech take most of the consumer tech positions breaking from some past trends that saw gaming consoles taking a few of the top spots. For a full overview Google has a website dedicated to the year with stories and highlights following some of the wide range of stories that intrigued the world at some point or another. Here's the full list of the top search trends of 2014 if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Comcast Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Use of Customer Routers For Comcast Xfinity Wifi Service

Much to the disdain of many customers earlier this year Comcast began its roll out of the company's new Comcast Xfinity Wifi service. The service features an update to rented home Wi-Fi routers that turns on a little known feature enabling your Xfinity router to be turned into a public hotspot!

Unfortunately for many un-suspecting customers the newly update service was turned on by default, and while Comcast promises there is no risk to users, and no added costs associated. The new service has not been met with open arms.

According to a San Francisco Chronicle report a class-action lawsuit was filed against Comcast last week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The suit was submitted by East Bay residents Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, who claim that Comcast is using its equipment to exploit customers for profit. They're seeking an injunction that will prevent Comcast from using its residential wireless routers as public hotspots. The suit also seeks compensation for unspecified damages.

According to the complaint Comcast violated the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as California laws on unfair competition and computer data access and fraud. They claim that the public hotspots, broadcast from the same equipment used for subscribers' private Wi-Fi networks, raise customers' electricity costs and harm network performance. But they also make what Comcast says is a false allegation regarding network security.

Comcast is looking to build a public Xfinity WiFi hotspot network, one that offers any current Comcast customer access to WiFi hotspotx throughout the region. This network will reside in 19 of the largest cities here in the United States and compete with America's top mobile service providers such as AT&T and Verizon. To do this, Comcast has added a second Internet channel to the newer models of its wireless gateway modems that are leased out to subscribers.

The lawsuit claims that “unauthorized broadcasting of a secondary, public Wi-Fi network from the customer’s wireless router subjects the customer to potential security risks, in the form of enabling a stranger who wishes to access the Internet through the customer’s household router, with the customer having no option to authorize or otherwise control such use.” The suit goes on to say that “upon information and belief, any activity on the Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspot will appear as though it originated from the Comcast customer’s IP address.”

A Comcast FAQ says the public hotspots are "completely separate from your secure Wi-Fi home network" and contend that there is no risk of cross access or communication. Furthermore Comcast ensures users that because the public Wi-Fi signal these features provide is treated as a separate connection, you won’t get into trouble for anything anyone does with it. It should be a separate IP address and usage will be associated with the account the other person signs on with.

Security risks aside the lawsuit also claims that end users with these 'hotspot enabled' routers are subject to higher electricity bills and slower overall connections speeds. Another claim that Comcast has previously defended in regards to the hotspots, saying they use minimal extra power, do not pose security risks because they are walled off from each customer’s private network, and do not cause any noticeable performance drop.

Although the hotspots are turned on by default, customers can turn them off by calling 1-800-XFINITY or online at  More details can also be found in our previous report here.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Checkout The Writings of Albert Einstein - 5000 Papers Added Online Today

Albert Einstein has arguably one of minds in history and starting today you can gain a little more insight into how his genius worked! The Digital Einstein Papers — launched by Princeton University Press, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the California Institute of Technology have released more than 5,000 of his personal papers, including everything from Einstein's love letters to his high school essays.

The documents published on the Web are just a few of the 80,000 he left behind before his passing in 1955 at age 76.

For those that are able to follow them there are some very fascinating finds. For the scientific minded you can view lectures he gave on his theory of relativity at Princeton in 1921. For those looking for a little romantic intrigue, there is his letter at age 22 to Mileva Marić, his future wife.

The volumes are packed with lots of geeky stuff, from mathematical equations to scientific theory. Not all of the early works are translated, and some of the material contains some pretty in-depth theory. However, even for those of us that do not fully grasp the material, it still makes for good reading and rather interesting insight into Einstein's working mind. Definitely something every geek out there should checkout!

Monday, November 24, 2014

How To: Use Price Matching to Get The Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Black Friday and Cyber Monday often offer customers some incredible deals at incredible prices. However, it often involves a lot of shopping around and hunting for products that are in stock or available. In order to attract more online shoppers and get customers through the door more stores are upping the ante this year and are offering more lenient price matching policies and a few have started price matching to more stores.

Traditionally brick and mortar stores have been reluctant to price match to online e-tailers and more particularly online giants like Amazon. In the past most stores limited price matching to ads or websites from traditional retailers and would place heavy restrictions on price matching to anything online. This year Walmart is taking an aggressive pricing policy and reversing that trend. Earlier this month they announced they'd now price match and a handful of other online retailers.

With these new changes this year using price matching may just be the best bet and offer you the best deals! In order to get those deals though you'll need to know what you are doing and know exactly how to go about it! Here are a few tips that should help insure your price matching is a success:

Finding The Best Prices: Try using price comparison websites like or even Google Shopping to find the best buys and gather your information on products and pricing. Another great source is social media sites. Follow your favorite stores to stay up to date on coupons and sales. These kinds of announcements usually happen first on social media. Watch for hashtags like #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday for special deals from your favorite brands.

Do Your Store Research: Once you've found a deal you want and efore going in-store or calling customer service double check the store's price matching policy. All stores have them detailed on their website, though some may be a bit confusing. Walmart has their 'Ad Match' and 'Online Price Matching Policies'. The later explains exactly which websites they'll match prices to and offers clear stipulations as to the limitations.

Gather Your Information: Most stores require printed copies of competitor ads or print outs of the webpage with clear product information and pricing. Do not go in-store unprepared to show this! In some cases they may be nice and allow you to show them the website. However, they generally don't have time!

Verify Your Product Information: Before you head in-store make sure you verify that the item you want to buy is A) The same product and model numbers B)  Not part of a Clearance, Closeout, Liquidation, Special Hour/Flash/Limited Quantity offers C) In-stock at the online retailer’s website at the time the request.

Making Your Purchase: Once you are ready to head in-store before requesting your price match make sure you pick-up your item, re-verify the details from above and head to the cashier with your selection. You need to have all your information ready so that you can request the price match right at the register with your product in hand.

What If They Won't Price Match?: Be polite but be authoritative just try not to be overly assertive or pushy. If the store has a question or there is an issue with making the price match remember that Management has the final decision for matching an online price. If you are friendly most the time they are willing to work with you and will be more receptive to you. If they absolutely refuse, try going up the food chain to another manager. If they still refuse the price match then you may want to try another time or another store.

Once The Purchase Is Made: Don't forget the bargain hunting doesn't end once your purchase had been made. Many stores offer policies that extend for days or weeks after you've made your purchase. Don't be afraid to go back to the stores and ask for them to match a better price at a later date.

With these quick tips along with a little leg work you should have a fairly easy Black Friday and Cyber Monday price matching experience. Just remember patience is going to be key and will certainly help out when you are in-store! Do you have any tips to help make pricing matching easier? Share your ideas with fellow shoppers in a comment below!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Here's How to Find Out What Google Knows About You and How to Delete It

Have you ever wondered just how much information Google has on you and how you can remove it? Here are several of the links you can visit to help you identify what personal information Google has collected on you from its various services and site and steps you can take to remove that information.

First up let me say I share most of the privacy concerns of the average person out there. However, I've been in the tech industry for a couple decades now. So I'm also very aware of how most sites and services use my own personal data and I'm not one that is overly concerned with what Google is doing with that information. Second, I'll say that for some of you the shear volume and detail of the information collected might be a bit of a shock. So brace yourselves!

Before continuing you'll want to log into your Google Account as only then can you access any of this information or change the settings. Just remember that disabling some of these services may slow down things like search, or completely remove others like Google Now.

Remove your smartphone location data: For some this might be a bit shocking but Google tracks a lot of location information based on where your smartphone is. For starters visit this will show the location history Google has saved.You can view your history, plotted on a map, from as far back as 30 days ago.

To turn off location tracking in Android - Go to the Settings app, scroll down and tap on the Location section then tap Google Location Reporting and switch Location History to “off.”
Note: For greater privacy, you can also turn off Location Reporting, but this will keep apps like Google Maps from working properly.

Remove your Google Search history: As you search Google the site collects your entire Google search history and remembers it to make future searches that much faster. For some this makes things a ton easier but for others it might be a bit intrusive. To view what is being collected and/or remove your search history you can do so by visiting You can also remove individual items if you want, or stop Google completely from saving your search history. Of course, this will also make it impossible for you to use awesome Google services like Google Now.

Remove Google Now voice searches:You may not be aware of this but if you are a Google Now user, Google saves snippets of your search inquires. To see and remove the  you can also see a logs of all your audio visit this link:

Opt out of Ads: Tired of those seeing some of those targeted Ads? Luckily it is easy to Opt-out. Find out what Google thinks about you and view their basic profile of you, your age, gender and interests. They use this data to You can review how Google sees you here: with opt-out links listed at the bottom of the page.

Find the apps and extensions that are accessing your Google data:
If you use Google to log into various sites and services or use Apps like Chrome, Google Play Music Manager or browser extension. Then there are chances there are apps that have some sort of access to your data. You can see the exact type of permissions granted to each app as well as many of your device and revoke access to your data here:

Find out what devices have accessed your Google account:
If you worry that someone else might be using your account, you can find a list of all of the devices that have accessed your Google account, their IP address, time when they last logged in and approximate location here: You can also remove device access and further secure your account by changing your password.

For a full overview, as well as things like your recent YouTube views and searches as well as settings for other services like Google+ you can visit where you'll find links to all of the above and more!

Comcast Looks to Cut Service Call Wait Times With New Technician Tracking Tool

We've all been there, stuck sitting at home waiting for the service tech to come out because our phone, internet or cable hasn't been working. Often times we are held hostage with a 'service window' that generally runs between 2 and 4 hours with no option but to still and wait. Now it appears as though we may see some changes, at least for Comcast wait times.

In Thursday blog post titled "Your time is valuable; we don't want to waste it," Comcast customer service chief Charlie Herrin detailed a new service that will give customers alerts 30 minutes before a technician shows up. This new feature, which will be available for free through Comcast's MyAccount app.

This is how it works. Customers with scheduled appointments will be alerted through the App on their smartphone when the Comcast technician is about 30 minutes away from arriving at their house, and will be able to track this technician’s progress on a map. This means no more sitting around waiting, as you can check the tech's progress from just about anywhere. So you can run those short errands and still be back in time to let them in!

Comcast also promises that if they are running late, which we all know all too often an happens, they will let those customers know that as well, and provide real-time status updates so they can plan accordingly.

Currently the App and service is on beta trial for those customers in the Boston area. However, Comcast hopes that with their feedback they will be able to refine the service and get it up and running in other areas soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nokia Unveils It Was 'Up to Something' And It Was The Company's First Android Tablet

Yesterday Nokia sparked everyone's interest when the company tweeted 'We're up to something', with a photo of a mysterious black box. Speculation quickly spread as to what the company might have up its sleeve for its first major product release since leaving the smartphone business.

Today we have our answer as Nokia has announced the N1, the first Nokia-branded Android tablet. The N1 offers the innovative, predictive Nokia Z Launcher interface, and a carefully crafted industrial design by Nokia with a focus on simplicity.

"We are pleased to bring the Nokia brand back into consumers' hands with the N1 Android tablet, and to help make sophisticated technologies simple," said Sebastian Nyström, Head of Products at Nokia Technologies, who announced the N1 at the Slush technology conference in Helsinki. "The N1 has a delightfully intuitive interface and an industrial design to match it. This is a great product for Nokia fans and everyone who has not found the right Android tablet yet."

The Nokia N1 features a 7.9" 2048×1536 (4:3) IPS LCD with Gorilla Glass 3 laminated display. A 2.4Ghz Intel Atom Z3580 processor, plus PowerVR G6430 GPU. On-board will be 2GB of system RAM and 32GB of internal non-expandable storage. It will also include an 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera.

For software the Nokia N1 will feature Nokia’s custom Android skin called Z Launcher that sits on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Said software is described as intuitive and super easy to use with adaptive learning, so it will adapt to you and what you’re doing to bring you “what you need, when you need it.”

The N1 is planned to be available for purchase in China in Q1 2015 for an estimated USD 249 before taxes, with the anticipation of expanding sales to other markets.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Apple Downplays 'Masque Attack' Security Vulnerability, Why We Aren't Buying It!

Apple is downplaying the risks of a new security vulnerability in iOS that, thanks to security researchers made big waves this past week. The security flaw, dubbed 'Masque Attack', was first discovered and reported by security firm FireEye.

Since those initial reports we've seen several posts and article detailing the new flaw and warning users of the extreme risks associated with it. In short 'Masque Attack' allows attackers to create a fake version of a legitimate app, which sits on top of the real app and siphons off data without the users noticing. The risks are legitimate ones and could potentially become a major issues for users both in the personal private sector and the enterprise level where data breaches are big business.

However, the security flaw apparently isn't raising any eyebrows at Apple. In their response, released to iMore, Apple goes so far as to stating that the Masque Attack isn't really a flaw at all, and that it's 'not aware' of anyone who's actually been affected by the attack.

Apple believes that since the the 'attack' requires the user to first follow a a link, then allow 3rd party apps to be installed by click past an iOS pop-up warning people about downloading malicious apps that users will be safe!

Unfortunately if history tells us anything we know this simply isn't true! Windows and Android users alike have ignored these warnings for years. Not to mention these types of malware attacks are hardly new to Apple users, and in those cases we again saw users willing to overlook those warnings and install malicious packages to their OSX machines.

It would appear as though Apple has some serious misconceptions about security and the ability of malware creators to to implement socially engineered and targeted attacks. Malware has always used legitimate looking emails, web addresses or other legitimate looking means to infiltrate an unsuspecting users machine. And yes in almost all cases it does require end user engagement to become installed. This is how malware has worked, and extremely successfully might I add, for years.

So while Apple may want to down plays this as not a big deal, it shouldn't be, and as always users should be extremely vigilant as to the sites and services they are using and emails they are viewing. Make sure you take the time and read and verify any and all warnings you get from your devices, especially security warnings,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

YouTube Launches New $9.99 Monthly Music Video Subscription Service

Looking to cash in on the popularity of some of your favorite artists, Google and YouTube have launched a new paid music video streaming service that will offer users ad free steams, offline content and more. Along the new service YouTube has also made several music oriented changes to its apps and website.

Starting today, you’ll see a new home just for music on your YouTube app for Android, iOS and on that shows your favorite music videos, recommended music playlists based on what you’re into and playlists of trending music across YouTube.

The new streaming service which will be launched in full in 2015 will be dubbed YouTube Music Key, and will be a monthly subscription service starting with the promotional price of $7.99/month (discounted from $9.99/month). The new services will offer subscribers ads-free music, background play and offline viewing. It will also include a subscription to Google Play Music (which is currently $10/mo on its own), with 30+ million songs, expert-curated playlists, and in the coming days, the ability to watch many YouTube official music videos right from the app.

For now YouTube Music Key will only be available through an invite to its "biggest music fans", who can try out the beta version for six months at no charge, YouTube said in its blog. If you’re interested in getting more info on the beta, you can let Google and YouTube know at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WSJ Christmas Sale Tracker Helps You Get The Best Deals On Black Friday

Black Friday will soon be upon us, and wile most of us geeks will rely heavily upon our favorite sites and apps to ensure we are getting the best of the best deals out there. A new tool from The Wall Street Journal, of all places, will offer a new way at tracking deals and seeing what stores are offering the best pricing.

As we well know stores adjust their holiday pricing on many items, especially online shops,  at any given moment. This is where the WSJ Christmas Sale Tracker comes in. It will allow you’ll to be able to see when and where to get the best deals on the items tacked. It will also offer a chart showing recent pricing trend which will help give consumers clues about which chains are competing most aggressively for sales.

According to the WSJ the tracker will collect prices once an hour from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 to determine the best times to buy those products, how early retailers offer their best deals and how quickly rivals match lower offers. The Christmas Sale Tracker will also track availability of popular items and show when they are out of stock or unavailable, an important indicator to watch during the holiday season, when retailers can lower prices on a small selection of sought-after goods to draw shoppers to their websites.

Unfortunately the tracker will only monitor a handful of the 'hottest' holiday items, so we can't rely on it for all of our Black Friday needs. But it should help provide a snap shot of which stores we may find the best deals at. For tracking other Black Friday sales we recommend visiting a few of our geeky favorites like: SlickDeals Black Friday Forum, DealNews, or For those looking for apps we suggest using the following: Sazze Inc Black Friday Ads (also on iTunes) or the FatWallet Black Friday App (also on iTunes).

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Will Windows 10 Spur PC Sales? PC Makers Sure Hope So

It is no secret that PC sales have slumped over the years and we are sitting in the middle of what many are calling the 'Post PC Era'. With more and more consumers and businesses opting to spend money on connected devices such as smartphones and tablets and staying away from tradition desktop and laptop options. However, lately we've seen that trend reversing and with the addition of Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system, PC vendors are hopeful that reversal will become more widespread and sales will return to the positive.

Higher demand for desktop computers in North America and Europe combined with the increasing popularity of lower-priced PC models meant that for the first time in years we saw the huge drop-off in PC sales came to a halt. Gartner reported shipments slightly increased 0.1 percent to 75.8 million units, while IDC found shipments fell 1.7 percent to 74.4 million, the Associated Press reported. Which while not exceptional showed promise as IDC said it had expected as much as a 7.1 percent decline.

These flat-lining numbers left PC manufacturers optimistic that come 2015 PCs will be on the rise again.

Recent commercial demand is improving as businesses face up to the need to migrate from Windows XP. However, we aren't seeing the levels rise along the usual trends as it seems that there's an uncertain future for Windows 8 in the commercial sector.

With the recent release of the Windows 10 preview and its impending release, the big PC makers, including Lenovo, HP and Dell, are resting their hopes in the hands of Microsoft and the company's ability to lure those in the enterprise sector. Hardware makers have spent years waiting for companies to ditch their aging computers and to upgrade. Yet following the release of Windows 8 in 2012, and its total redesign, sales continued to slump as corporate clients seemed unwilling to upgrade to the new operating system with its unfamiliar look and feel.

While new computers are noticeably better, and offer much more bang for the buck these day. There is still little to persuade consumers who are turning to phones and tablets for all their casual computing needs to upgrade from their dated machines. For many businesses that is even more true, with more enterprise level customers opting to extended the life of their slightly older machines in hopes of getting more for their money.

Microsoft hopes that the new 'unified' approach it has taken with Windows 10 will help to offer consumers and businesses alike a reason to finally ditch their aging machines. Couple that with the complete and total end of support for Windows XP and upcoming end of mainstream support for Windows 7, Microsoft and PC vendors may finally have an opening to further the PC sales skid.

What do you think? Will Windows 10 be enough reason for you to upgrade to a newer PC? Or will you opt for simply upgrading your operating system? Perhaps you don't plan to upgrade at all! Let's hear your thoughts with a comment below!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For $7 Per Month Microsoft Will Give You Unlimited Cloud Storage Along With Office 365

Microsoft has just made everyone an offer that may be to good to refuse! Starting this week all Office 365 customers will get unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost. This means that for as little as $7 per month you can sign-up and get all the storage you could ever use and even better have full access to Microsoft Office 365.

According to the OneDrive Blog announcement the offer will be open to all Office 365 Home, Personal, and University customers. This is where the $7 per month comes in — it’s the base rate for a 365 Personal subscription when you pay annually. So not only will you be able to access unlimited cloud storage, you also get access to Microsoft's entire Office suite — Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint, Publisher, and even Access and Outlook — on both your main computer and your tablet.  

For just $10 per month you can add a home account and use up to 5 PCs, details are still sparse on University accounts however for those that do have .EDU access this may be a good time to claim your free Office 365 program.

As for those with business accounts Microsoft has said corporate customers will have to wait a bit longer for their unlimited accounts to kick in. "For OneDrive for Business customers, unlimited storage will be listed on the Office 365 roadmap in the coming days and we will begin updating the First Release customers in 2015, aligned with our promise to provide ample notification for significant service changes," wrote Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint.

The free upgrade will roll out to all subscribers “over the coming months,” Microsoft says. Existing subscribers can jump ahead in line by signing up through Microsoft's website. 

So is this deal too good to pass up? As both an Office/OneDrive and Google Docs/Drive user I'm personally pretty tempted to jump on it. What are your thoughts, contribute your comments below!

Monday, October 27, 2014

$39 Amazon Fire TV Stick Offers Specs and Features Boost Over Chromecast

Amazon Fire TV Stick
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So we know Google must be flattered by all of the Chromecast clones that have been coming out of the woodwork to offer comparable devices. With all the competition it is clear that HDMI dongle that is capable of streaming online content and games from sites like YouTube, Hulu and others has become a hit. Today however, we have a new entry into the market that may have just upped the ante by upping the specs and features.

The new Amazon Fire TV Stick offers much of the same video and content streaming capabilities as that of the Google Chromecast. However, it does so in a more robust package. It will feature a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi and an included remote control. There will also be an optional voice remote similar to the one found with the Fire TV. There is also an optional gamepad, since the Fire TV Stick will be able to play many of the games that are found on the Fire TV.

As for content there will also be a slight boost over the current Chromecast (and other competing offerings). You'll not only get instant access to the most popular services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Spotify, Pandora, and, you'll also get access to Amazon's own Prime Instant Video and Prime Music service. For gamers Amazon says you'll have access to more than 200 games.

In addition to instant streaming of content you'll be able to utilize the Amazon Fire TV Stick to wirelessly mirror your tablet display to your Fire TV Stick from Fire tablets, Fire phone, and Miracast-enabled phones or tablets including devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Google without any additional apps or software. Turning your TV into the primary screen and freeing up your phone or tablet to provide playback controls.

Additional features will include Amazon's X-Ray for movies, TV shows and music and Amazon's Whispersync to synchronizes your video and music library across all of your devices.

X-Ray allows your device to become a second screen to view video information about cast and crew, the names of songs as they play, as well as a list of music in the movie or TV show, trivia items in context with the action on the screen, and character backstories so you can easily remind yourself of the character’s history.

Fire TV Stick is available starting today for just $39—order at Current Amazon Prime members have the option of buying the Fire TV Stick at the discounted price of  $19 for the next two days. Customers who are new to Prime can sign up for a free trial and also receive this special price. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Google Site Offers Help to Make The Transition From iOS to Android Easier

For smartphone platform switchers changing to a new operating system can often been an overwhelming experience.Often times we just don't know where to get to started and what to do to make the transition any easier. Thankfully there are some great resources out there that make the move easier and what better resource could you ask for but one directly from Google itself?

Google has published a new site with a very helpful guide to help you switch from iOS to Android without losing any of your important things like contacts, photos or music. 
The Android Switch site walks you through all of the basics. Offering step by step instructions on how to upload photos stored on iPhones and iPads to Google+, transfer music from iTunes to Google Play Music, and even keeping all your contacts.There are also links for further assistance for new Android users to get started with their new device and get the most out of the new operating system.

Google guide will help anyone on any Android device. However, for those of you that are making the switch from Apple to a Samsung or Motorola device there are even more alternatives. New Samsung owners can download and use Samsung's Smart Switch App which will allow you to transfer existing content from your iPhone and iCloud account to any new Samsung phone. You can even use it to transfer content between existing Samsung devices. Motorola offers a similar solution with its Motorola Migrate App which also allows for switching directly from an iCloud account or another Android device.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Apple Pay Hitting The Streets Tomorrow, What iPhone Users Need to Know

For iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users Apple Pay officially launches on Monday in the U.S., giving Apple users access to a new (for Apple) technology that will make easier to make in-store and online payments possible.

The new service, which Apple previously unveiled and further detailed this past week will be available in over 220,000 stores at some 35 retail locations. Stores include Whole Foods, Macy's, McDonald's, Duane Reed, Texaco and others. In addition to those stores, Apple listed 23 store brands accepting online payments with Apple Pay, including Staples and Starbucks, which today relies upon QR reader technology, not NFC, for in-store payments to buy coffee.

How Do I Use Apple Pay With My iPhone 6?

Apple Pay uses a tiny Near Field Communication chip (NFC) that is embedded inside the phone. These chips have limited localized range that allows the device to wirelessly communicate directly with NFC readers. In order to utilize Apple Pay you'll first need to follow these steps to setup a payment option and get things running:

Setting up Apple Pay on your iPhone
  1. Download iOS 8.1
  2. Open the Passbook app
  3. Tap on Set up Apple Pay
  4. Add cards:
    1. You can select cards already associated Passbook or iTunes gift card simply by confirming you security code
    2. You can scan new cards with iPhone’s camera or manually input them
  5. The first card you add automatically becomes your default payment card, but you can go to Passbook anytime to pay with a different card or select a new default in Settings.
Once you’ve added a credit card, you’ll be able to view your transactions, enable notifications for it, and have quick access to the bank’s app and phone number in case you have any problems. You can add up to eight different cards to the system.

Now that you have your payment information added, in order to complete purchases you simply need to hold your device in close proximity, less than a few inches, to an active NFC reader while holding the Touch ID. Apple explains that "A subtle vibration and beep let you know" when a purchase is done, there will be no need to look at the screen or enter any further information.

How Secure Will Apple Play Be?

Apple is billing Apple Pay as an ultra-secure method of paying for items in store. According to Apple your credit card information and paying credentials are never stored on your iPhone or iCloud account. Secondly, retailers never receive your card details, so your account will should stay safe, even if the store suffers from a massive security breach like the ones that have impacted Target and the Home Depot recently.

The NFC payment system utilizes tokenization. Essentially, the system works with card providers like Visa or your bank to replace your sensitive data with random data that has the same structure and formatting. So your 16-digit credit card number gets stored in the bank or card provider’s extremely secure database, and then another 16-digit number that looks and acts like a credit card number is generated to verify the purchase.

In effect mobile payments handled through NFC payment systems via either Google Wallet, Apple Pay or Softcard should be more secure than handing over your credit or debit card and entering your PIN. However, the system isn't without its downfalls and there are still inherent risks (more on that later). Banks though have stated that they will be offering the same fraud protections that any other credit card user would be afforded.

Additionally, if your iPhone or iPad is ever lost or stolen, you can use Find My iPhone to quickly put your device in Lost Mode to suspend Apple Pay, or you can wipe your device completely clean removing any chance that a user can access Passbook.

Which Credit Cards and Banks Will Be Accepted?

Apple currently supports the credit and debit cards from the three major card companies -- American Express, Visa and MasterCard. In addition, more than 500 banks are backing Apple Pay, though Apple named just a few: Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Barclaycard, PNC, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union and American Express. Those banks represent 83% of all credit card purchasing in the U.S.

Where Will I Be Able to Use Apple Pay?

There are currently more than 220,000 stores that have signed on to utilize NFC terminals and Apple has stated they have partnerships with all those companies currently employing the technology. On its website, the company lists its own store, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Duane Reade, McDonald’s, Sephora, Petco, Panera Bread, Staples, Nike, Walgreens, Subway, Whole Foods, and more as participating current stores.

As Google Wallet users know, this however does not mean that all of those stores actually have working terminals. In fact, one of the major reasons we haven't seen widespread success of the current contactless payment systems is largely due to a lack of widespread availability. With Apple coming on-board and making a major push for the system we should see more businesses getting on-board. However, at this time at some location you may still have issues finding a working terminal. Also keep in mind the 220,000 stores represent just 5% of all available stores.

Conclusion, My Thoughts and Concerns!

As a long time Android user, Apple Pay is nothing new to me. We've had service like Google Wallet for some time now and contactless payment systems aren't anything new. I've owned a PayPass enabled MasterCard prior to that. So while it is great to see Apple finally adding on the option, until we see more widespread adoption and much, much greater security it is just a novelty for me. As I mentioned above these new payment systems aren't without their own security concerns.

While Apple insists that none of your payment information will be stored on either the device or the iCloud servers making that data slightly more secure. Accessing the information via a stolen iPhone may not be all that difficult. Touch ID has previously been hacked, and with some ease I might add. We've even seen the iPhone 6 fingerprint sensor already hacked. While this latest report indicates it might be more difficult to achieve, that doesn't rule out the possibility of further attempts proving otherwise.

With users storing more and more information on portable devices, they become much higher valued targets. Admittedly it is easy enough to remotely wipe a device, however this involves being able to actually access your Apple account. Which may serve as enough delay to allow thieves time to access your payment system to do some shopping or retrieve anything else they may need on your device. Given my own concerns I'll pass on adding mobile payments to my device for now at least.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Intel Joins Samsung Opens Experience Shops Exclusively in 50 Best Buy Stores

For you geeks out there that want to get the latest hands on experience with cutting edge technology you now have an exciting new opportunity. Intel has announced it will be opening 50 new "Intel Experience" shops exclusively in Best Buy retail stores at various locations across the nation.

"We wanted to give our customers a new way to experience Intel technology," said CJ Bruno, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel Americas. "It's an innovative way for Best Buy's customers to see, touch and engage with our latest products and experiences."

The area will be staffed by specially trained Best Buy Blue Shirts and will allow customers to explore:
  • 3-D Printing Experience: On a touch-enabled, Intel-powered laptop, shoppers can design their own 3-D model of a robot and experience 3-D printing as featured robot designs get highlighted in the stores.
  • Mars Escape Augmented Reality Game: Use powerful Intel tablets to design and race a Mars Rover. While being immersed in an augmented reality world, the users navigate their virtual space rovers through a physical Mars landscape.
  • DJ Remixing Ne-Yo Experience: Budding musical artists can feel what it's like to perform in front of thousands of fans in an immersive, on-stage DJ experience on an Intel-powered 2 in 1 device. In collaboration with singer-song writer Ne-Yo, shoppers can remix his track and create a full-stage experience through controlling the stage lights.
  • The Product Gallery: Experience the latest laptops, 2 in 1 devices and tablets powered by Intel processors.
Best Buy has been expanding its partnerships with several companies lately looking for way to engage more customers and offer them more than just the standard shopping experience. Last year they began their partnership with Samsung, placing Samsung Experience Shops in most retail locations. They also have a long standing partnership with Apple and are looking to add similar in-store customer support and experience kiosks from Microsoft, Amazon and Google to offer similar, yet not on the same scale.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good News Game of Thrones Fans HBO GO Will Soon Cut The Cord and Offer Online Streaming

With a new generation sparking more and more cord cutting and users edging away from traditional cable and satellite services. HBO is looking toward the internet and other none traditional services to expand it's subscriptions. Speaking today before an investment meeting for HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced that HBO GO will be offered for the first time ever, without the need for a pay TV subscription starting next year.

"It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO," the network's chief executive Richard Plepler said. "So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top HBO service in the United States." It's a monumental change for HBO, which is currently sold only through cable and satellite providers.

Plepler did not address pricing for next year’s standalone HBO GO subscriptions, but adding HBO to a cable subscription currently costs between $15 and $20, depending on your provider. All he did confirm was that the service would be available, at least in a testing phase, in 2015.

So while details may be a bit sparse this could be great news for those Game of Thrones geeks out there that have made the show the most pirated ever and want to make the jump to legal viewing. It could also be great news for those customers out there like myself that are looking for more ways to save a little extra cash, without having to leave behind some of the content we love to see.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Zeiss VR One Brings Virtual Reality to More Smartphone Owners On The Cheap

Virtual Reality may soon start hitting the mainstream thanks to offering from companies like Oculus Rift and Samsung. However, up until now the prospects have remained slightly limited. Samsung's own offering, the Gear VR, will only work with the company's new Galaxy Note 4 and pricing is expected to be as much as $199 if not more.

Enter German optics manufacture Carl Zeiss. The company just announced the new VR One, a virtual reality headset for use with a smartphone. It's similar to the Gear VR by Samsung and Oculus, except at $100, it's going to be significantly cheaper and will work with a wider variety of smartphones. Zeiss says that unlike the Note 4-exclusive Gear VR, the Zeiss VR One will be compatible with both the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S5, with support for other smartphone models between 4.7-inch and 5.2-inch in the pipeline.

The VR One has its own SDK for iOS and Android, and at launch there will be two different VR apps developed by Zeiss. The internal team at Zeiss developed two demo apps—a photo viewer and an AR proof of concept, however so far there is little information regarding app support or details as to whether or not developers have taken up the project.  Zeiss is planning a contest for developers, which they’ll publicize on a dedicated Tumblr page for the VR One. And if all goes well, before 2015 rolls around you’ll have a well-built mobile VR solution that won’t break the bank.

Up for pre-order now, the Zeiss VR One has a price tag of $99.99. This price not only includes the Zeiss VR One but also a smartphone tray, which will set you back $9.99 when bought alone. The company expects the first units to “ship before Christmas 2014.”

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Apple Pay May Officially Launch Nov 7

 **Update** We may see Apple Pay launched much soon than originally expected. According to leaked documents obtained by Macrumors Walgreens is preparing its stores for an Oct 18th launch. We may even see something more official from Apple on the 16th during their press event.

For Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners that have been excitedly awaiting the launch of Apple Pay the wait may soon be over. According to website Daily Dot and their conversations with USAA (one of the Apple Pay partners) the service may launch as soon as November 7th, at least for USAA customers.

Vikram Parekh, Assistant Vice President at USAA Bank tells the Daily Dot USAA will offer Apple Pay beginning on "Nov. 7 for USAA MasterCard and USAA Visa cards," which is the first official date for an Apple Pay release thus far.

Apple's list of Apple Pay partners, including Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, and Citibank — any number of which may be ready to support Apple Pay as soon as Apple is ready to release an iOS update including it. 

Apple Pay was originally introduced to iPhone users with the recent launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The new mobile payment service will utilize contactless NFC payment systems similar to those that have been available to Android users for some time now. Much like existing Android services like Google Wallet and Softcard (formerly ISIS), Apply Pay users simply need to add their credit card information to their devices, then they can tap-to-pay at any compatible terminal.

To date there are over 220,000 retail location that are equipped with NFC payment terminals. Those include Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Walgreens, Subway, McDonald’s, Duane Reade, Whole Foods, Staples, Disney, PetCo, Toys R Us, Panera, CVS and more. 

Get Dragon Age: Origins for PC Free Before October 14th

As part of EA's new 'On the House promotion' the gaming developer is giving away free, that's right totally free, digital downloads of Dragon Age: Origins. For those not familiar with EA's new On the House promotion it is pat of the company's new Origin streaming platform similar to that of Steam. Once you create an Origin account and download the software you can purchase games, grab expansions packs ect.

As part of the service you can also grab full games, expansions, demos and more at absolutely no cost. With the On the House promotion EA will occasionally offer full versions of the real games — for free for a limited time. You can also checkout the Free to Play section for more great games.

This week's promotion offers gamer the chance to save a few bucks and grab Dragon Age: Origins, which saves you a cool $20 bucks. Origins is the first game in the Dragon Age series, having launched on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC back in 2009. It was very well-received upon its release, earning a 9.5 in GameSpot's review and a 91 Metascore via Metacritic.

For more details on the game checkout the Dragon Age Origins: Launch Trailer below!


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Red Bull Drinkers Claim Your $10 Check or $15 Worth of Free Red Bull Products Thanks to $13M Settlement

It may seem like common sense that Red Bull doesn't in fact give you wings. However, that marketing slogan has (at least in some eyes) paved the way to claims that the energy drink gives consumers a physical 'lift' or 'boost' and was enough in the eyes of a New York District judge been enough to represent false advertising. Forcing the company to reach reach an agreement to pay out more than $13 million after settling a US class action lawsuit that accused Red Bull of making false and misleading advertising claims

The class action lawsuit was originally brought forth by Benjamin Careathers, a supposed Red Bull drinker since 2002, and was filed on Jan. 16, 2013 in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. The suit argues that Red Bull misleads consumers about the superiority of its products with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” and its claims of increased performance, concentration and reaction speed, to name a few. This deception is proliferated through the company’s advertising on television, the Internet, social media and events, athlete endorsers, glossy print brochures, marketing campaigns and its slogan-promoting Red Bull Flugtag series, according to the suit.

The suit says of Red Bull’s marketing:
Such deceptive conduct and practices mean that [Red Bull’s] advertising and marketing is not just ‘puffery,’ but is instead deceptive and fraudulent and is therefore actionable.
Red Bull released this statement following the settlement:
Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation. However, Red Bull maintains that its marketing and labeling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability.
As part of the settlement Red Bull will reimburse customers disappointed that the energy drink hasn’t lived up to their expectations with either a check for $10 or a voucher for $15 worth of Red Bull products. To submit your claim, head here and complete the form no later than March 2, 2015. You may choose to receive one of the following two benefit options: cash reimbursement of $10 OR $15 worth of Red Bull products shipped to your home. Click here for more information.

** No proof of purchase is necessary to obtain settlement benefits. However, the Claim Form must be signed by you under penalty of perjury (either by hand or, if you submit it online, electronically), affirming that you are a qualified member of the Settlement Class and that the information provided therein is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. **

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Don't Buy That Used iPhone or iPad Without Checking This Site First

Purchasing a used device an be a tricky proposition these days. You never know if you can trust that the person selling the device didn't swipe it or that it hasn't been reported as stolen and therefore blocked from activation. Now we have a new resource that will help you verify that iPhone, iPad or iPod touch can actually be activated.

The service is available on the iCloud website and only takes a few steps to test to make sure the Activation Lock hasn't been triggered. Users simply need to input the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) or serial number of any iOS device to quickly check its Activation Lock status.

For those not familiar with Apple's Activation Lock it is a feature that was first introduced in iOS 7 as part of the Find My iPhone service on iCloud. Once it is turned on, the device is locked down and the user needs to input the Apple ID and password associated with it in order to be able to use it again. Activation Lock was original optional in iOS 7, but Apple turned it on by default in iOS 8.

This new tool will instantly tell you whether the device you intend to buy can be used right away, or whether it’s protected by Activation Lock and therefore blocked from being activated by Apple and thus not worth buying!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Windows 10 Preview Download Links Now Live

As reported yesterday, Microsoft held its technical preview press event, during which the company showed off highlights of the upcoming Windows 10 operating system. As previously mentioned, Microsoft will be releasing a technical preview for the public to try out ahead of the retail launch.

The site for the aforementioned preview is now live and the download is now available for all you tech enthusiasts and geeks to test out. It should be noted that Microsoft warns users this preview might not be suitable for everyone. In fact they said, "The Windows Insider Program is intended for PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality. Insiders will receive a steady stream of early builds from us with the latest features we’re experimenting with."

So please be warned this may not be for the faint of heart and certainly should not be used as a primary operating system or as a replacement for a current system! There are likely to be bugs along the way, and even if there aren't, you may run into compatibility issues that could cripple your systems.

The process is straightforward:
  1. Sign up for the Windows Insider Program.
  2. Read the system requirements.
  3. Click one of the Download links on this page to download a special file—it’s called an ISO file—that you can use to install the preview.
  4. When the download is complete, transfer the ISO file to installation media such as a DVD or USB flash drive.
  5. Double-tap or double-click setup.exe from the installation media, and then follow the steps.
The Windows 10 technical preview download is a hefty  4GB for the 64-bit variety and around 3GB for the 32-bit version. For those willing to check it out you should visit and sign up for Microsoft's 'Insider' program.

For those that want the direct links without signing up for the Insider Program here you go:

Download links

Language Link to download SHA-1 hash value
English 64-bit (x64)
 Download (4.10 GB)  
English 32-bit (x86)
 Download (3.16 GB) 

And the product key is: NKJFK-GPHP7-G8C3J-P6JXR-HQRJR

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Microsoft Skips 9 Heads Straight For Windows 10

During today's press event Microsoft made a rather surprising move. Not by announcing the company's newest operating system, which was widely expected, but rather by announcing a bit of a surprising new name. Windows 10!!

Being described as Microsoft's "most comprehensive platform ever," and the ‘first step of a whole new generation of Windows’, Windows 10 will offer a tailored experience for all hardware across a single platform family. Meaning there won't be 'one user interface to rule them all' but rather a product family, with a tailored experience for each device.

Microsoft has said Windows 10 will run across a broad range of devices and we aren't just talking smartphones, tablets and PCs here. They see Windows 10 running on 'The Internet of Things', which could include everything from family PCs to smart devices, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide.

“Some of these devices have 4-inch screens – some have 80-inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all,” writes Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems. “Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are 10 feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.”

Windows 10 will combine what Microsoft saw as the best of the Windows 8 "tiles" concept for touch,the familiar we found in Windows 7. Microsoft was looking for the best of both worlds in the new design with features such as:
  • Optimized Touch for Mobile Phones and Tablets
  • Optimized Keyboard Access for Laptops and Desktops
  • Enterprise Features for Secured Business Access
  • Scalable Windows to See Apps and Programs on the Same Screen
  • Common Interface for for "Universal Apps" that'll work across form factor Windows 10 brings back the "start button" concept to the lower left of the screen along with the "Program Menu" concept that users can add programs like Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, etc. to the menu, PLUS the menu also shows (at the same time) the modern Windows application tiles.
Watch the below video from Joe Belfiore to see many of these features in action.

For those wanting an early look at the new operating system you need to sign up for the Windows Insider Program. For more details checkout the Official Microsoft Blog  or to read Myerson’s post, head over to Blogging Windows, and to learn more about today's announcement read the press release.

PayPal Joins the Bitcoin Revolution Allowing Some Merchants to Accept the Digital Currency

Thanks to a recently announced partnership, select PayPal merchants can now accept bitcoins as a form of payment. The announcement, which came last week, highlighted a new partnership with payment processors BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoins making PayPal one of the latest in a long string of companies to accept the crypto-currency as valid payment.

"PayPal has always embraced innovation, but always in ways that make payments safer and more reliable for our customers. Our approach to Bitcoin is no different," Scott Ellison, senior director of corporate strategy, wrote in a blog post. "That's why we're proceeding gradually, supporting Bitcoin in some ways today and holding off on other ways until we see how things develop."

The company wanted to make it clear that the news does not mean that PayPal has added Bitcoin as a currency in their digital wallet system or that Bitcoin payments will be processed directly through PayPal or its secure payments platform. Rather it is simply adding the option as a partnership, so all transaction will be secured through the other vendors.

The new program and agreements took direct affect allowing merchants to accept Bitcoin with a simple integration through the PayPal Payments Hub. This new program will be available to merchants in North America first with possible roll outs to other countries in the future.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Microsoft Reported to Offer Free Windows 9 Upgrades For Windows 8 Users

With a plethora of Windows 9 rumors swirling around and the widely expected introduction expected at Microsoft's upcoming event being help in San Francisco next Tuesday, rumors have risen that we may see some unexpected news from Microsoft that the company may break from tradition and offer its newest operating system as a free upgrade!

Popular geek site BGR originally reported the rumors, which it had found thanks to Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week. The reports quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that "the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it's released."

The original Detik article is in Indonesian, but a quick translation through Google Translate, will allow you to view the full article which states amongst other things that Microsoft will indeed announce Windows 9 during the Sept. 30th event. It goes on to state that once released, Windows 8 users "will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from directly Microsoft."

While neither article makes it clear whether other Windows users who are on older versions of the OS will get any other special offers, it does make sense that Microsoft would make moves to try to boost sales of Windows 9 as it is actively trying to move as many people as possible from the older, and no longer supported, Windows XP operating system. Additionally Windows 8 sales have been seen as slumping, so offering Windows 9 as a free download might be a great incentive for users to make the transition to Windows 8 now knowing that they'll be able to move to Window 9 once it is released.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Students No Longer Need School Support to Claim Office 365 For Free

Microsoft has just made it a lot easier for students and teachers everywhere to access their free subscriptions to Office 365 by cutting out the middle man.

Previously, for students and teachers to take advantage of the Student Advantage Program, they had to contact their campus IT department, who then had to set up the account and provide access to the students. Now, all the student needs to do is to provide a verified email address from the school, and Microsoft will do all the hard work.

Last year when Microsoft launched its Student Advantage Program if began giving Office 365 access to students whose schools provided it to their faculty and staff. Now Microsoft has added a self-serve option, too.

Qualified students are given the following for free:
  • The latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher
  • Installation on up to five PCs or Macs, and Office apps on other mobile devices, including Windows tablets and iPad
  • 1 Terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage
  • Office Online
As part of the program teachers and students at more than 35,000 institutions are automatically eligible for free version of Office 365 ProPlus. To learn more about Student Advantage, visit

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

iOS 8 Is Here Is Your iPhone Ready?

As promised earlier this month Apple has released the latest version of the company's mobile operating system, iOS 8. The new software update offers users a slew of new features and what Apple explains as "a simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience."

For users looking for more details check below for a quick look at what devices support Apple’s latest OS, how to prepare for the update in advance, and how download it as soon as possible.

Which devices support iOS 8

Before diving head first into what you can expect from the newly updated software let's make sure your device supports it. As always Apple keeps tight restriction on what device will be allowed to run their newest operating system. This is mainly due to hardware limitation and the desire to ensure users get the best possible user experience. Given that, iOS 8 is only available on the devices listed below. It should also be noted that not all features — such as Apple Pay and continuity — will work on all devices or even within all countries.

iPhones iPads iPods
iPhone 4s iPad 2 5th-generation iPod Touch
iPhone 5 3rd-generation iPad
iPhone 5c 4th-generation iPad
iPhone 5s iPad Air
iPhone 6 iPad mini
iPhone 6 Plus iPad mini with Retina display

Ready your iPhone for the iOS 8 update

Before attempting any sort of major software update there are several things to be done. For starters we all know software updates can go wrong — and Apple’s are no exception. It’s always a good idea to back up your data before proceeding. Thankfully Apple makes that easy to do via iTunes or iCloud. This is always a major first step but it is one that will lessen the risk of you losing your contacts, messages, photos, and any other content you have stored on your device.

To back up your iPhone via iCloud and your local Wi-Fi network, tap Settings on the iPhone’s home screen and select the iCloud option in the resulting menu. Then, select Storage & Backup and ensure the iCloud Backup is enabled, or simply tap the blue Back Up Now option at the bottom.

Your second step should be freeing up some space on your device. Anyone that has done a major iOS update in the past and has had a device full of data will know that it can cause issues. You’ll reportedly need at least 1.4GB of free storage space to install iOS 8. So now is the time to free up some memory and do a little house cleaning. I suggest cruising through your photos, contacts, and apps for anything you no longer us or is severely outdated. You should have all that backed up now anyways but if not you can always offload it to your iCloud or iTunes account or store it elsewhere if you’re worried about losing those precious moments and music you rarely listen to.

The last step in the process is updating iTunes and all your apps. iOS 7 should have automatically kept your apps up to date, but it only does so periodically. Launch the App Store as you would normally, tap Updates in the bottom-right corner, and then Update All to download and install the latest version of all your apps. Many developers have already begun to release software updates optimized for iOS 8 — even prior to the platform’s release — so it’s worth double-checking just in case. This also ensures you have a lesser chance of any compatibility issues. Updating iTunes at this stage is also critical if you are using it to install iOS 8 or just as a back-up in case something does go wrong!

Download the iOS 8 update

At the time of typing this the iOS 8 update has gone live and should be well on its way to you wirelessly. Once the update becomes available to you, ensure your iOS device is connected to both a charger and your local Wi-Fi network. Launch the main Settings menu, tap General and then Software Update, and press Download when prompted. Then merely tap Install when the download is finished.

If installing via iTunes, connect your iOS device to your Mac or PC and select it beneath the Devices list in iTunes. Afterward, click the Check for Update button before selecting either the Download Only or Download and Update option. Allow the upgrade process to finish before unplugging your device, regardless of which method you choose. It could take awhile.

What features can I expect in iOS 8?

Amongst the new features are changes to iMessages such as predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard as well as the ability to create audio text messages and share the location via text. There will be several new Photos features including the ability for the device to automatically straighten horizons, and and the addition of smart editing tools so you can quickly adjust light and color with a swipe. For deeper fine-tuning, you can access individual tools to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more.

A new integrated Health app gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place. With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness. Users will be able to gather and monitor their own fitness metrics using apps such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava. Healthcare providers can now monitor the data their patients choose to share through apps such as Mayo Clinic or Epic’s MyChart app that will be used by Duke Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health/Stanford Medicine, among others.

More details on all the new additions and updates can be found here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Google Officially Extends Refund Window for Android Apps to 2 Hours

Google Play Store
There is nothing worse than paying to download what you think is going to be the best game or greatest app of all time only to find out you absolutely can't stand it. In the past with apps from Google Play you've had to make your decisions and uninstall that app quickly so you'd receive your refund. Thankfully Google has now decided to allow you to take your time in deciding if you like an Android app or not.

Google generally allows users a short 15 minute testing window to decide if that impulse buy, or random recommendation from a friend, was worthy of being added to your app collection or not. However, over the past month or two Google has slowly been extending that testing period. Now Google has officially updated its Google Play support page to fully extend that time to a two-hour refund window.

To get a refund for an app you don't like, open the Google Play Store app on your mobile device, touch the Play Store icon and select My Apps, then select the app or game you want to return and look for the Refund option. If the two-hour refund window has not yet passed, Open and Refund buttons will be displayed. If a Refund button is not displayed, your purchase is not eligible for return.

The one caveat is: this only works once per app. So, if you previously paid for and downloaded an app you didn't like and already received a refund, and choose to re-download it at a later date, you won't be able to return it.

Great news for those pesky geeks like us that like to test out a lot of different apps but also have impeccable taste. Also good news for you gamers out there that like to test out some of the latest games before making the full purchase.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Google Adds Free Voice Calling to Hangouts

Google Voice may officially be dead but that doesn't mean the service is gone for good. Google has just given the free VoIP service a bit of a reprieve as the company has announced the addition of free voice calls to Google Hangouts. The new service will offer free calling to other Hangouts users and phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada,. There will also be an option for international calling with what Google is stating are low international rates.

To get started on Android, just grab the new version of Hangouts (v2.3, rolling out over the next few days), then install the accompanying dialer to turn on voice calls. On iOS and the web, voice calls will be available the next time you open the app.

For all you current Google Voice and Google Voice app users, you will soon see a pop-up prompting you to migrate to the new Hangouts app. Once your migration is completed messages sent will show as "via GV" to let you know it was sent to your Google Voice number. It's also worth noting that if you turn on Google Voice integration, the Voice app will stop receiving messages—everything will go straight to Hangouts.

There is no need to worry though. The new update brings almost all of the current features of the Google Voice service to Hangouts. This means your new Hangouts calls will be fully integrated and will allow you to use your current Google Voice number. All your voice-mail transcriptions appear in the regular Hangouts chat interface, as do text messages to your Google Voice number.

For outgoing text messages, Google will give users a couple of options. There is a smart reply feature that will automatically send your replies from the number that received it (Google Voice or your regular phone number), or you can choose to always use Google Voice or your phone to respond.

For the time being, iPhone users will only get support for Google Voice calling. SMS and voice-mail support is coming “soon,” according to Google.

Google has been rapidly integrating all of its communications services such as Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and regular SMS functionality into the Hangouts application on Android, and with the integration of Google Voice it will finally be able to provide a unified communication tool to its users.