Thursday, August 27, 2015

Samsung Now Accepting Beta Testers For Samsung Pay

Samsung made major waves in the mobile payments arena this past month when they officially unveiled their new rival to both Apple and Android Pay, the new Samsung Pay application. Samsung Pay goes above and beyond just traditional NFC payments and tokenization, adding in an option to also use traditional magnetic strip readers as well as loyalty cards.

The new app is slated to be released to the public Sept 28th, however for those Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, or Note 5 owners living in the US you may get a chance to test drive the new service a bit early.

Samsung has opened up beta testing to select users in the US. At this time, Samsung is only taking beta testers with a qualifying devices and cards from Bank of America, Mastercard, US Bank, or Visa. As for carriers, you will need to be on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or US Cellular. Additionally, you will need an active Samsung account to sign up to be a tester.

If you are interested in testing out Samsung Pay, registration for beta testers is now open and you can sign-up via Samsung's invitation page. Note that you must meet all the requirements and be accepted to be eligible.

Apple Announces Sept 9th Event New iPhone 6S Versions Expected

In its traditional flare Apple has announced the dates for the company's next major event which is expected to see the announcement of the newest versions of the iPhone, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

Invitations went out today featuring Apple's tradition of adding a bit of suspense via a cryptic message which reads only —"Siri, give us a hint". Other than the short message the innovation only held the details of the event stating it will take place on September 9th at 10AM PT, live at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Since Apple in general holds true to form, and it is widely expected they will, the timing would suggest the event will be the unveiling of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. It is also expected we'll see the arrival of and discussion about iOS 9, which is usually released to existing iDevices a couple of days before the new phones are available.

There are many rumors floating around the webosphere in regards to the latest iPhones. Many have them pegged as having animated wallpapers similar to the Apple Watch, 4K video capabilities, upgraded 12-megapixel cameras and front-facing flash. We may even see something about force-touch iPhones, though this is one of the more highly speculative rumors. Other even shakier rumors suggest we may see a new Apple TV or even the new iPad Pro though no one really puts much stock into those.

[Update:] For those that haven't been invited to the event, as per usual Apple will be living streaming the event via their own website via HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), which generally requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 7.0 or later and Mac computers with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X version 10.8.5 or later. However, in a major change of the norm, Apple plans to offer the stream to Windows 10 users running Windows EDGE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Amazon's New Underground App Serves You $10,000 of Truly Free to Use Apps

Amazon has created a new none traditional way of offering customers completely free to use and play apps by doing away with all in-app purchases instead opting to pay developers directly via per-minute payments in exchange for developers nixing any fees, which means for the customer the software is entirely free to download and use.

The new service, dubbed Underground, is only accessible to Android users via an Android app that must be downloaded directly from Amazon due to Google App Store restrictions. However, according to Amazon once the app is loaded users will have direct access to more than $10,000 in free apps. Some of the titles on offer include OfficeSuite Professional 8, Goat Simulator, Frozen Free Fall, and Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions.

To checkout the app you will need to visit from your Android Phone and enter your email or mobile number to receive a link to download it. You'll also need to adjust your phones settings to allow for installation from 'unknown sources'.

To do this go to your phone settings menu, tap security or application, check the 'unknown sources' box and confirm (you may want to do the reverse once the app has installed but you'll need to allow this for each app downloaded through Amazon). Now head over to your downloads folder, by going to My Files or Files, tap on the Amazon App file (Amazon_App.apk) tap Install when prompted and you should be set!

What's the catch? You will need an Amazon account to use the app, even though they are free! Other than that so far there doesn't seem to be much of a catch here. Amazon has for years offered up free app through their “Free App of the Day” promotion, which is now gone btw.

I will say I'm not a big fan of having to use Amazon's Underground App to install all my 'freebies' as it seems like nothing more than a rebrand of Amazon's traditional appstore app. Meaning not only will you see your Underground app selections but loads of listings for physical items from Amazon’s online store, along with plenty of ads for Amazon Prime.

Due to security concerns I'm also not a major fan of having to allow installations from 'Unknown Sources' every time I want to load an app from Amazon. On my Galaxy S5 this isn't a major issue since it will ask me each time and I don't have to leave the setting open, but it still might be an issue for some!

On the plus side of things though, if you buy qualify apps even those that are free, you may be eligible for Amazon promotional credits for $1 towards MP3 purchases.

YouTube Gaming Now Available Via Android, iOS Apps and the Web

As expected YouTube has just launched their new dedicated gaming site,  YouTube Gaming which is now live on the web and available for download for Android and iOS devices.

The new site already features more than 25,000 dedicated game pages with content ranging from live streams to cheats, tips and tricks. It will also support a DVR feature, and automatic conversion of streams into YouTube videos.

"YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From 'Asteroids' to 'Zelda,' more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You'll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators," reads YouTube's June blog post.

The aim of the new site is to create a direct head-to-head competition against Amazon's popular gaming site Twitch, mirroring many of the sites popular features. Google hopes that by adding in a standalone gaming channel users will now find it easier to follow their favorite games as search results will be more gaming oriented and not feature tradition YouTube results. As YouTube notes, "typing 'call' will show you 'Call of Duty' and not 'Call Me Maybe.'"

Keeping up with these games and channels is now super easy, too. Add a game to your collection for quick access whenever you want to check up on the latest videos. Subscribe to a channel, and you'll get a notification as soon as they start a live stream. Uncover new favorites with recommendations based on the games and channels you like the most.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Apple to Stream the 2015 Apple Music Festival For Free Via Apple Music

Apple has announced today that they will offer free live streaming of their 2015 Apple Music Festival set to take place this September at London’s Roundhouse. The festival will feature performances by Pharrell Williams, One Direction, Florence + The Machine and Disclosure and several other headliners.

Formerly known as the iTunes Festival, the Apple Music Festival takes place over the course of 10 nights and features some of the top artists from around the world. This year's event will run from September 19 to September 28. Apple has hosted the iTunes Festival in London for eight years, and now in honor of the launch of Apple Music, has renamed the event the Apple Music Festival. Apple customers can enjoy the Apple Music Festival via Apple Music or iTunes on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC or in stunning HD with Apple TV.

“We wanted to do something really special for music fans this year,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The Apple Music Festival is a greatest hits set of ten unbelievable nights featuring some of the best performers on the planet appearing live and interacting directly with their fans on Connect and Beats 1.”

The great news is that unlike many live streaming events Apple holds this one will actually be available to everyone, at least everyone currently using Apple Music, even PC owners. The streams will feature live and on-demand content as well as coverage on Beats 1 and social media snippets on Apple Music Connect.

For updates, tickets and additional information visit: or join the conversation on Apple Music Connect. To learn more about Apple Music Connect and Beats 1 visit: and

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

PlayStation Plus Members Vote For Your Next Free to Play Game

A newly announced program by Sony offers PlayStation Plus members the chance to vote on which games they want as a 'Free to Play' for the coming month. This new program, dubbed Vote to Play, offers gamers the chance to chose between a few different options, with the game receiving the most votes being added to the monthly line-up of free downloadable titles that PlayStation Plus members already receive as a perk for membership.

Sony will officially be kicking off the new program this week and accordingly has has announced the three titles that will be released, which include Armello, Zombie Vikings, or Grow Home as well as brief introduction trailers for each one with their respective developers explaining what their games are all about; you can watch those below.


A grim fairy-tale board game come to life, combining deep, tactical card play, rich tabletop strategy, and RPG elements. Set in a vibrant magical world with a tinge of darkness, Armello thrusts players into an epic struggle for power as they quest, scheme, explore, vanquish monsters, perform the mad king’s royal edicts, and face off against other players, with one ultimate end goal in mind — storming the palace and becoming King or Queen of Armello.

Grow Home

You play BUD (Botanical. Utility. Droid), a robot on a mission to find the Star Plant and save his planet. Discover a strange open-world: a planet of floating islands, with precipitous drops, caves and waterfalls to navigate, all rendered in a minimalist but beautiful art style. Grow the giant Star Plant and use your unique climbing abilities to reach ever higher ground, but be careful as you ascend because one wrong move and it’s a long way down!

Zombie Vikings

From the creators of last year’s indie hit Stick It to The Man! comes a new co-op, four-player stab-you-in-the-gut-a-thon with a dead-funny adventure. Hack through the boiling gingerbread swamps of Molgaga, take a cruise through the intestines of the Midgaard Serpent, fight giant troll poultry, and find out how Söccer was really invented.

Voting begins at 8:30 AM PDT on Thursday, August 13. If you're a Plus subscriber, you can cast your vote by accessing Vote to Play from the PlayStation Store's Plus section on PS4, or through the What's New or Notifications areas of the PS4 dashboard. Voting will continue until August 24 at 8:30 AM, with a winner being announced sometime after that. Whichever game wins will be free for Plus members throughout September, who will also be able to get the other two games at a discount.

If you don’t already have a PlayStation Plus account and would like to learn more on the benefits of PlayStation Plus, such as the Instant Game Collection, access to online multiplayer on PS4, exclusive member discounts, cloud game saves and more, click here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Facebook Security Setting Exposes Personal Information

Security researchers have discovered a new loophole in Facebook's default security settings that would allow searchers to access areas of your profile, even when set to private, through a search of your phone number.

British software engineer Reza Moaiandin, of Salt Agency, recently posted the details of his discovery stating that he could harvest Facebook users' data on a mass scale by exploiting a little-known privacy setting that allows anyone to find a Facebook user by typing their mobile phone number into the social network's search box. The default setting on its "Who can find me?" function is turned to "Everyone/public" - meaning anyone can find another user by their mobile number, even if it is not visible on their public profile.

According to the findings even those that had set their phone number as private were now searchable as the default setting only stops those numbers from appearing in your personal profile when non-friends are viewing it. However, without making changes to your security settings anyone can create a script with possible number combinations which can be run through these URLs, and if a number is associated with a Facebook account, it can then be associated with a name and further details (images, and so on).

"This could be a huge phishing problem if no limit is created, and the loophole is discovered by the wrong person," he wrote in a blog post. "Unfortunately, for the 1.44 billion people currently using Facebook, this means that sophisticated hackers and black market sellers can access names and mobile phone numbers in as little as an hour through reverse engineering."

Mr Moaiandin told The Guardian the loophole was akin to "walking into a bank, asking for a few thousand customers' personal information based on their account number, and the bank telling you: 'Here are their customer details.' "

How to up date your Facebook security for better privacy!

Facebook users can and should change their privacy settings manually to avoid this potential invasion of privacy and it doesn't take much time. In fact it only takes a few seconds and really doesn't hurt anything in the long run!

From a desktop
  1. Open Facebook in your browser, click on the upside down triangle at the top right, and select Settings.
  2. Select Privacy from the left pane.
  3. Find Who Can Look Me Up under Privacy Settings and Tools
  4. Select Who can look me up using the phone number you provided? and change it to Friends of Friends or just Friends. Just Friends is likely your best bet.
  5. You will also notice an option for Who can look me up using the email address you provided? I suggest doing this as well, just as a matter of extra privacy.
From your smartphone
  1. In the Facebook app, tap on the hamburger icon (three lines) at the top right and find Account Settings.
  2. Tap on Privacy.
  3. Find Who Can Look Me Up under How You Connect.
  4. Select Who can look me up using the phone number you provided? and change it to Friends of Friends or just Friends. Here again just Friends would be the setting of choice.
  5. You will also notice an option for Who can look me up using the email address you provided? Again changing this is up to you but I always have it limited.

According to the reports we've seen Facebook has denied it had a "security loophole", as the accessed data was designated to be public. The site said it had strict rules on how developers may use its application programming interfaces. "The privacy of people who use Facebook is extremely important to us," a spokeswoman said further stating, "everyone who uses Facebook has control of the information they share, including information on their profile and who can look them up by phone number."

While we agree this may not technically be a 'security issue' since it is designed to be public, the fact that it is public by default certainly can make it a privacy issue for those that aren't aware of the need to change the setting.

Use These Tips For Shooting Photos of The Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual August Perseid meteor shower kicks off this week throughout North America, and like most geeks we will be out there with camera, or smartphone in hand trying to capture that perfect moment. Unfortunately shooting those stars after dark can be a bit on the tricky. Thankfully noted photographer and Olympus Trailblazer Peter Baumgarten has put together a few great tips that should help even the most seasoned photog get some great shots.

Here is just a snippet from Peter's Astrophotography Tips:
  1. Plan Ahead: All great photos require a bit of planning, but shooting at night requires considerably more thinking beforehand. 
  2.  Stay Away From the Light: To capture a great star field in the night sky you need to be aware of light pollution that could spoil your shot.
  3. Include A Point of Interest: Include an interesting subject in the foreground that will set your photo apart.
  4. Go Wide and Open It Up: A fast, wide-angle lens is definitely the best choice for astrophotography.
  5. Post Processing Is Required: To create nightscapes that pop, some post-processing is required.
  6. Star Trails Made Easy: Us Live Composite features to combine several separate photographs in to one.
For more great tips on how to capture that perfect shot of the night sky checkout Sky & Telescope.

You’ll be able to view the shower from Aug. 11-14. If you’re able to stay up late (or wake up early), the best views of Perseids are between midnight and dawn on Aug. 13 – when you may see up to 50 meteors an hour (depending on your time zone).

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Don't Pay to Play DVDs In Windows 10 Use VLC Instead

In our opinion Microsoft has done a great job with the recent release of Windows 10. The new UI, return of the start menu and other updates have really impressed us over Windows 8.1 (which unlike some we really didn't mind). One thing that you may have noticed though that is conspicuously absent is the ability to play your favorite DVDs (and Blu-Rays) through any of Windows 10's default applications.

You may think it was just you, don't worry it wasn't, and of course this isn't an error or mistake. Microsoft dropped 'free' DVD support on purpose due to, I believe in part, what was seen as rising costs of continuing support and paying royalties for the rights to use the technology.

While Microsoft now offers the Microsoft DVD for Windows 10 app, which was released this week for $15, we believe there are much better alternatives that can be had for free and we all know how geeks like to save money!

There are plenty of other free options out there, however our go to option for almost all of our video needs (and by all we mean all, like all of those questionable downloaded videos you might not have been able to play with Windows Media Player, or through Windows previously all the way up to our favorite DVDs or DVD/BR rips) has always been VideoLAN's VLC desktop software.

VLC is an open-source, meaning free to use, media player that includes support for DVD media as well as multiple other video and audio file formats. You'll even find a few websites that stream content that use VLC based codecs, or codecs that you won't find WMP support for. The software is super quick and easy to setup, you'll have the option to set it up for the default media player for all your media files if you like, some of you might not want that though.

A quick Note that I DO NOT recommend the VLC app in the Windows Store, which is a separate version that does not support DVD playback. You'll need to head over to the official VLC site and get the full version.

For those of you that really really don't want to try out a third party app you may still have another free option. For some Windows 10 upgraders you can get the Windows 10 DVD Player for free -- under certain circumstances. To do so, you must upgrade to Windows 10 from one of the following previous versions: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 with Windows Media Center or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center. If you are eligible for the free offer Microsoft says you will automatically receive the update soon after you upgrade to Windows 10, and that the Windows DVD Player app will be automatically downloaded through Windows Update.