Thursday, January 28, 2016

Apple Recalls Several AC Wall Plug Adapters and Travel Kits Over Shock Risk

Apple has issued a voluntary recall of several AC wall plug adapters that were included with several Macs, along with several Apple World Travel Adapter Kits, included with few iOS devices shipped and sold between 2003 to 2015. A large number of markets are impacted, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Continental Europe, New Zealand and South Korea. Luckily for most US based geeks the current recall doesn't include any parts of North America.

At issue is the possibility that the actual adapters themselves could break open at the casing and causing a 'slight' risk of electrical shock if touched. One could also assume the exposed rronges could also potentially create other risks as well, such as fire, however at this time Apple has only stated there is a risk of shock and that they can confirm at least 12 incidents worldwide.

Apple has stated in their official press release that in “very rare cases,” the two-prong wall plug adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched. Apple's support forum has already seen a few examples of what 'may' occur if the adapters break. One such example is the picture  found in this thread from Apple’s support forum.

Apple is asking customers to stop using affected plug adapters. Customers should visit for details about how to exchange the affected adapters for new, redesigned ones.

An affected two-prong plug adapter has either four or five characters or no characters on the inside slot where it attaches to the main Apple power adapter. Visit the program website for more details on how to identify an affected adapter.

Apple noted the recall doesn’t affect Apple AC wall plug adapters made for Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, or any Apple USB power adapters.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why Bad Earnings For Apple May Mean Good News For You!

Apple's quarterly earnings report may be one of today's biggest headlines and while investors and analysts might be leery of what we may see and what a bad report may hold. For my fellow geeks out there could be a major silver lining in those dark clouds!

There are rumors and speculation abound over what we can expect when Apple reports their fiscal first-quarter earnings later this afternoon, and while many are expecting the tech giant to once again set a new iPhone sales record, some are bracing for a rough year this year. Most major analyst are expecting Apple to see lower sales totals in 2016 and are expecting Apple to post its first year-over-year sales decline for the iPhone since its 2007 launch.

While this might be bad news for some, it could potentially be great news for consumers and geeks alike! With lower than expected sales we could finally see Apple enter into the pricing wars that we have seen other major manufactures face over the past few years. This may mean that we may see Apple slash prices on some of there product lines in order to get more consumers buying and as such added to their ecosystem.

Now of course this is just a bit of speculation, and really all hinges on what we see in this Apple earnings report and what they share in their own advisories and earnings estimates.

However, we have seen Apple roll the dice with a few budget offerings like the iPhone 5c and what is rumored to be a new smaller 'second edition' device like the iPhone 5se. This means we could be seeing Apple finally opening the door to a price war. A war that we can hope will lead to other companies falling inline and either dropping prices to stay competitive and ahead of a slower than expected sales year, or offering even better features or bundles than we have already seen in the past!

For those interested, you can hear the live webcast of Apple's earnings report on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 7.0 or later, a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X v10.8.5 or later or a PC with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. The live webcast will begin at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 26, 2016 at

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Seagate In-Lab Data Recovery Services Now Offers Cloud-based Data Returns

Anyone who has ever gone through the heartache of facing data recovery knows the process can be a tedious time consuming one. First you have to package up your drives, then ship them off to the labs and finally cross your fingers and hope and pray that they are able to recover your precious data. Then of course there is the waiting game to get your data returned, all the while you face delays which more often than not mean money!

Now days the best way to avoid this hassle is undoubtedly having a great back-up plan! There are plenty of great options out there that are very cost effective, with several actually being free depending on your needs. However, should you still find yourself in need of actual physical data recovery from a dead drive, popular hard drive manufacture Seagate, has for years offered very reliable very cost friendly In-Lab recovery services.

Until recently Seagate only offered the traditional recovery options, which meant submitting your case (details of your drive and data needing recovery), sending in your physical drive and waiting for the data to be recovered and returned. However, now there is a much faster more reliable option. Seagate recently transitioned to a cloud based platform which will offer faster return times as well as access to your recovered data anywhere you are. A real positive for anyone that is on a time crunch or might be worried about lost or misplaced packages.

The new cloud option still offers the same benefits of Seagate's traditional In-Lab recovery services. So you still get the 'no recovery, no cost' option, as well as 24/7 recovery tracking and full data back-up to a new external drive. You'll just see the added benefit of online password protection access to your recovered files. The files will be saved for 60days, with a guarantee of removal afterwards.

For more details checkout Seagate's In-Lab Recovery Services FAQ's

Friday, January 15, 2016

Dying PC Market Means New Things For Intel

With PC sales continuing a downward spiral it should come as no surprise that major chip manufactures are looking to diversify offerings and move into more markets. That certainly is the case for the world's leading chip manufacture, Intel, who relies heavily on the Client Computing Group (CCG) side of their business to generate revenue. The company hopes 2016 will be different, as they are seeking to break their reliance on the PC market and move focus towards markets such as data centers, the Internet of Things and memory, which the company hopes will ultimately provide revenue exceeding that of PCs.

Intel's Data Center Group (DCG), IoT and memory divisions generated 40 percent of the company's revenue in the 2015 financial year. That will grow even more in 2016, said Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, during a fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday.

Intel is expected to continue to drive innovation in the PC business, but it won't be the sole driver of the company's growth in 2016, Krzanich said. According to his statements, Krzanich believes Intel we see more diversification in the coming years. Stating that, "Our future as a company will increasingly be the virtuous cycle of opportunities in the data center, memory and IoT market segments."

Intel reported revenue of $14.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, growing by 1 percent year-over-year, while profit was up 1 percent at $3.6 billion. CCG revenue was $8.8 billion, declining by 1 percent. Revenue for DCG in contrast grew 5 percent to $4.3 billion while the revenue of the IoT group was up 6 percent to $625 million.

For the past several years Intel has heeded the writing on the wall and has tried making the move away from a PC market that has seen steady declines as upgrade cycles and demand have shrunk thanks largely to more customers opting for mobile platforms over the traditional desktop or laptop.  

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, declining by 10.6 percent year-over-year, according to IDC. According to Intel, desktop shipments declined by nine percent in 2015 compared to 2014. Laptop shipments were down 10 percent. The prices of PCs went up in 2015, which helped cut some losses.

So far Intel has unsuccessfully tried to diversify into the smartphone and tablet market. Intel's Atom chips account for only a small segment of the mobile market, finding their way into only a handful of smartphones and tablets that shipped in 2015.

With their acquisition of chipmaker Altera and the new offerings from that collaboration coming soon we may see that change. The first chips that combine Intel and Altera technology will be multi-chip modules, in which Intel's server chips and Altera FPGAs will be combined as separate processing units for servers. Samples of those chips are expected to be released this year with mass production ramping up down the road. Intel says we should also expect to see new chips from the the tandem making their way into cars, robots, the Internet of Things, automation equipment and other products in the near future.

Google Offers Freebies For Using Android Pay With 'Tap 10' Promotion

Google is looking to entice Android smartphone users into using their newest mobile payment platform with a new promotion that could net you some pretty cool freebies including a new Chromecast!

The promotion is a rather straight forward and simple one, in order to get users to start making payments with Android Pay, Google has launched a new promotion called Tap 10. Google is giving out various rewards in hopes of you making 10 mobile payments before the end of February. Included in the prizes are songs, movies and subscriptions from Google Play, and even a Chromecast for those of you that complete all 10 purchases using Android Pay. There are a few requirements you have to meet in order to qualify but those are rather basic.

First the basic details: All payments must be made through the Android Pay app (obviously) and must be completed by 11:59:59 p.m. PT on February 29, 2016. You also have to be over the age of 18 to qualify, sorry kiddos. The App Account Information must also match the information of the participant that completed the act of Tapping, sorry no using someone other persons details to try to earn rewards.

Now the real stuff: Participants who Tap to pay for a purchase at a contactless terminal at an Android Pay merchant may be eligible for a Reward. For a list of major participating store merchants go to:; however a participant may Tap to pay for a purchase anywhere Near Field Communication (“NFC”) payments are available. The only time a Reward may be provided to a participant is within the first ten (10) Taps during the Offer Period; once a participant has reached ten (10) Taps, he/she will no longer be eligible to receive a Reward in this Offer. Note: Participants who reach ten (10) Taps may continue to use the App without penalty or issue. All Taps must be at least five (5) minutes apart to be eligible in this Offer.

Rewards will be sent via a promotional code to the Google Account linked to the individual participant’s App Account. Rewards and promotional codes expire at 11:59:59 p.m. PT on March 31, 2016. Unused Rewards after 11:59:59 pm. PT on March 31, 2016 will be forfeited, and no additional compensation will be provided to any participant. Limit one (1) Reward type per participant.  Click here for full rules and details.

So what say you, will this new offer get you out there using Android Pay, or are you still on the fence about mobile payment solutions? Personally I think I might have to add it as an option to my phone even though I don't think I shop at enough locations that accept NFC payments yet.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Microsoft Officially Drops Security Support For Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10

 All good things (or bad depending on your point of view) must come to end and right? This week we will see Microsoft's long planned end of support for older versions of Internet Explorer, meaning that much like users of the company's older operating systems that have been retired, users of the older version of the Internet Explored browser will no longer receive security updates for any un-patched flaws or exploits!

We are at yet another  Microsoft-imposed deadline, which heralds the end of support for outdated software. Next Tuesday will bring the first batch of Microsoft security bulletins for 2016 and it will also mark the end of security support for Internet Explorer versions 8, 9 and 10. Microsoft made the call almost 18 months ago, giving all of their customers and businesses ample time to prepare for the day when those versions of IE, battered by zero-days, exploit kits and targeted attacks, should be retired.

In reality, however, many users out there are either unwilling or unable to comply with these deadlines. This does not mean that we shouldn't take notice and shouldn't take Tuesday’s deadline seriously. In fact even if you aren't using IE on your own machine you should still be aware of the risks as they may potentially put businesses at risks and therefore may put your own personal data at risk as well!

Statistics from a number of sources show us that there is still a significant percentage of web traffic moving through IE., for example, says that while IE 11 holds more than 25 percent of market share, IE 8, 9 and 10 combined still account for more than 20 percent. Researchers at Duo Security, examining traffic moving through their services, put the percentage a bit higher for IE 9 and 10—almost 36 percent—running on Windows 7, 8, or 8.1.

Given that browsers historically offer hackers a much juicier attack surface than operating systems, folks may want to take Tuesday’s deadline seriously.

“In most cases an attacker will need to already have access to a local network or be able to trick users into opening malicious files as part of a successful attack leveraging Windows XP vulnerabilities,” said Tripwire security researcher Craig Young. “The web browser on the other hand is of course used to constantly process data from potentially untrusted sources leaving users exposed to a wide range of attack.”

Microsoft warns IE users that without action, after January 12, 2016, they will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer. Noting that security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware, helping to keep users and their data safer. Regular security updates help protect computers from malicious attacks, so upgrading and staying current is important.

For full details on the end of life cycle of Internet Explore and how you can update and protect  own system you can read the Windows lifecycle FAQ sheet to learn more. If you have not yet updated to Internet Explorer you can do so via the Windows Update portion of the control panel or via Microsoft's Download Site.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Lumosity to Refund App Users $2 million Due to Unproven Results

Users of the popular Lumosity "Brain Training" program may soon see a refund as the company has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over unfounded claims that their set of applications actually worked as advertised.

“Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

At the heart of the issue are claims that Lumosity made about their online apps and mobile games and whether or not those games actually impacted a person's ability to learn faster or stave off the effects of intellectual impairment that comes with aging.

In their complaint (PDF) the FTC charged that Lumosity falsely claimed that their dozens of online or mobile games, designed to train specific areas of the brain, would help customers reach their "full potential in every aspect of life," such as in school, at work, and in sports, and that using these apps would protect against dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Among other things, the company also claimed that the training could help customers reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Under the terms of the settlement (PDF) Lumos Labs, the parent company of Lumosity, was imposed with a $50 million judgement, which will be stayed due to the company's poor financial standings. Instead the company must agree to pay $2 million dollars in damages that the FTC will then issue as refunds to customers that had signed up for the services or in app subscriptions. The order requires the company to notify subscribers who signed up for an auto-renewal plan between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2014 about the FTC action and to provide a means to cancel their subscription.

The agreement will also forbid the company from "making any representation, expressly or by implication" that the product "improves performance in school, at work, or in athletics" or "delays or protects against age-related decline in memory or other cognitive function, including mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease." The settlement also says the company cannot claim that the product "reduces cognitive impairment caused by health conditions, including Turner syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, or side effects of chemotherapy."