Friday, July 29, 2016

Nvidia GTX 970 Owners You May Be Owed Money

Listen up you gaming geeks out there! If you purchased the Nvidia GTX 970 Nvidia may owe you some cold hard cash, thanks in part to some bad advertising and misleading specifications that has led to a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit.

For those that don't recall, shortly after the GTX 970 rolled out, users started noticing issues with the cards 'alleged' 4GBs of VRAM memory. In short the card's memory allocation didn't work correctly and wasn't allowing games and applications access to the full 4GBs of memory. Additionally, when access to the additional memory was available users saw significant drops in performance.

Nvidia later admitted that the design of the card was to blame, which split the card’s memory into 3.5GB and 512MB segments. Nvidia’s CEO later explained that the memory segmentation was an inventive way to make the GTX 970 a 4GB card when it normally would’ve been 3GB.

In addition to the issues with crippled memory, it was later discovered that Nvidia also made false claims on other specifics. The card was originally listed as having 64 ROPs (Render Output Unit), when in fact it was found to only have 56. The L2 cache capacity was also misrepresented at 2048KB but in reality it ended up being 1792KB.

At the time some online retailers felt the need to offer refunds, which many of you geeks out there likely took advantage of. However, others felt a little more slighted and filled lawsuit over the issue. The lawsuits largely claimed that Nvidia misled its customers. Allegations that Nvidia has continued to deny. The proposed settlement would not force the company to admit to any liability or false claims, rather they would issue a cash refund for those impacted.

According to the proposed settlement (via The Register) GTX 970 owners will be reimbursed $30 per card. Essentially the amount that they feel makes up the discrepancy between what customers should’ve paid had Nvidia been honest about the memory and ROP discrepancies from the start. The court will hear the petition to approve the settlement on Wednesday, August 24, as first reported by Top Class Actions. A total of 15 lawsuits seeking class-action status would be settled if the proposal goes through.

As the agreement has not yet been settled there are no details as to how GTX 970 owners can claim their refund. However, it appears as though eligible owners that have previously registered their cards will be notified of the settlement by October 23, and all claims will need to be filed by December 21. We'll be keeping track of the settlement so that once there are more details about filling claims we can update our readers so they can get their $30 refund.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Facebook Shows That Selling Your Data Continues to Be Big Business!

When Facebook reported their quarterly earnings  earlier this week one thing was glaringly true; the company is making more money of you than ever before! According to their own estimates Facebook earns roughly $3.82 per user, multiple that by the more than 1.7 billion active users, and you can see why the social media giant was able to usher in another $6.44 billion in revenue.

Facebook ARPU for Q2 2016
Facebook's main money stream has continued to be ad revenue, hitting more than $6.24 billion with  Mobile ad revenue taking the highest share (84 percent) at $5.42 billion. Facebook is now in fact pushing so many ads and making so much money on you the user, that they have in effect ran out of ad space.

When it comes to on site and in app advertising the company has it a wall of sorts, or the tip of what they are calling  “ad load”—the volume of ads its users typically see. Right now they believe they are in a "green zone” which means they don’t think they can push many more ads to users than they are already seeing during the time they are spending on the site without users becoming overwhelmed or overly annoyed (I personally think most already are!).

In short, Facebook is say they are about to max out on the number of ads it can show users without coming up with even more ways to push ads to you. This means it will need to find other ways to grow the company’s ad business moving forward, they simply don't believe increasing the number of ads it shows people will not be an option.

“The optimal ad load is really a mix of art and science,” Wehner said. “We also want to be thoughtful about making sure each person’s overall feed experience has the right balance of organic and ad content.”

This is why we see the company making bigger pushes to become a "video first" social network. During this week's conference call Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company sees “a world that is video-first, with video at the heart of all our apps and services.” Facebook executives also noted that video is playing a large part in driving up time spent on the social network. More time, means more advertising dollars!

Facebook uses a targeted advertising system, in layman's terms they collect as much of your data as possible and either sell or use that data to offer advertisers more lucrative ads and it appears to be working and working well.

Facebook promises that with their targeted advertising you can "reach the right people, every day, everywhere, to get more traffic and sales for your website". Their system not only utilizes traditional  things like demographics: age, gender, race, occupation ect but they also use site specific items. Things like your listed hobbies, favorite bands or brands, Facebook likes, location and check-ins. Beyond just what you do on their own site Facebook also tracks browsing and spending habits on other sites, giving company's a much more accurate picture of who you are and what you do!

What does this all mean? Well at the end of the day it means that, user willing, Facebook will continue to collect all the data it can on you, and they will continue to make as much money as possible off of that data! It also means that we can expect to see more adverting on Facebook's other services, as well as more in app and in video advertising. Pretty much we'll just see more ads period!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Firefox Finally Joins The Anti-Flash Revolution

Starting next month, Firebox will finally join the coup to banish Adobe Flash use, by blocking content that is deemed none-essential. This includes Flash elements that aren’t visible to the end user. As a result, Mozilla says, Firefox users will experience less issues with Flash crashing or causing the browser to hang. Battery life, page load speeds, Firefox’s responsiveness, and overall security will all be improved as well.

For those users that still want to enjoy Flash enabled sites, you know the ones that haven't moved to the new generation, Mozilla promises that Firefox will still support legacy Flash content. In order minimize website compatibility problems, the changes are initially going to be limited to a short, curated list of Flash content that can be replaced with HTML. So users won't suddenly be left in the dark. However, Mozilla says it will add more Flash content to the block list in the future, meaning site owners will eventually need to keep up with the times and change their content delivery systems.

Mozilla notes that over the past few years, Firefox has implemented Web APIs to replace functionality that was formerly provided only by plugins. This includes audio/video playback and streaming capabilities, clipboard integration, fast 2D and 3D graphics, WebSocket networking, and microphone/camera access. As websites have switched from Flash to other web technologies, the plugin crash rate in Firefox has dropped significantly:

Starting next year Firefox will require click-to-activate approval from users before a website activates the Flash plugin for any content. Websites that currently use Flash or Silverlight for video or games should plan on adopting HTML technologies as soon as possible. Firefox currently supports encrypted video playback using Adobe Primetime and Google Widevine as alternatives to plugin video.

Most of the major players including Google, Apple and Microsoft have all already implemented plans to phase out or completely end support for Adobe's Flash plugin. Largely citing security concerns as the plugin has notoriously been riddled with security vulnerabilities. Over the past several years Flash has been one of the most targeted exploits for hackers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hackers Use the 2016 Rio Olympics to Target Potential Victims

With the 2016 Rio Olympics just a couple weeks away we are seeing new warnings of potential threats from hackers that include anything from malware and ransomware, to full blown interruptions of sites and services associated with the events. These potential threats mean that visitors to the Olympics and you viewers/followers at home should be extremely diligent and cautious when it comes to opening emails, viewing videos and visiting sites related to the 2016 Olympic Games.

It is fully expected that cyberthreats related to the games will escalate over the coming weeks and meaning you could see phishing emails pushed to your inbox or malicious attacks potentially affecting and infecting the websites you visit.

Malicious Apps and Sites

While we all like to think of our app stores and favorite sites as being secure, history shows us that is not always the case. Malicious apps can sneak past the gates and even our favorite sites can be hit with malicious ads or code that injects links for bad downloads. Add to that the warnings about phishing attempts above and users are likely to face the real threat of malicious downloads.

Again this all comes down to 'think before you click' mentality. When visiting sites related to the 2016 Olympics or installing applications to follow the games be sure you are using official applications on your smartphone rather than low-rated ones with small user bases.

If you are visiting a site from your phone or computer and you see pop-up boxes for things like Flash Updates, app installs or anything else that might not seem right, be sure that you use caution. Back out of the page, if you can, and download any and all updates directly from the source. If you are on your smartphone and an app is asking to install from '"Unknown Sources" stay away!

Beware Phishing Emails and Malicious Social Media Posts or Messages

 Major sporting events have always attracted the attention of would be scammers, targeting the public in just about any way imaginable. Over the years these world wide events have become very lucrative targets for hacking groups using tools like phishing emails, social media posts and malicious downloads.

Phishing emails and social media posts are particularly popular ways for hackers to spread malware and other malicious software. They offer high reward and returns for little work and are seen as highly effective. A favorite among hackers are messages and links, sending would be victims to a site tp view high profile video of a favorite star, record breaking event or something similar. Another favorite phishing scam are links to bargains on great seats to events, or fake confirmations for reservations, service or seating to events. In reality these emails and links contain, things like malicious downloads of ransomware or fake sites that utilize realistic looking log-in pages to steal your passwords and log-in information.

The old adage “Think before you click, especially if something looks too good to be true!” rings loud and clear when it comes to emails involving the 2016 Olympic Games and is one most security researchers are trying to reiterate to everyone!

Thomas Fischer, a security researcher at Digital Guardian, has already been noticing an increase in phishing scams trying to take advantage of the Olympics. Typically, a user will receive an email loaded with an attachment that invites them to an Olympics ticket lottery. Inside the attachment, however, is malicious code that will download the Locky ransomware and begin encrypting all the user’s files. Hackers are already blanketing email addresses with this kind of attack. They’ll also pretend to be an organization like an Olympics committee.

Banks and Banking Data Are A Popular Target

For those that are luck enough to visit Rio for the games you should use extreme caution when using banks and point of sale machines. We know that anks and banking data are always popular targets, however we are seeing several warnings that Brazilian hackers are developing applications that install Trojans (back door access to your computer or phone) that pretend to be legitimate banking software, but in actuality can steal the victim’s payment information.

These apps tend to target local users more than anything, but they may evolve into something more and could be potential threats to travelers. 

Dmitry Bestuzhev, the head of global research for security firm Kaspersky Lab has warned that visitors to the Rio Olympics be wary of ATM and point-of-sale machines in the country. They often can be infected with malicious code that can secretly steal payment data once a banking card is swiped. “The attacker has the capability to intercept the data and then to clone the card,” he added.

Another danger Bestuzhev is warning users of is the use of public Wi-Fi spots in Brazil to access important person, financial or business data. These access points are often times insecure. A hacker can use them to eavesdrop on victims and steal their passwords, Bestuzhev said, adding the recommendation that users buy a VPN service to encrypt their Internet communications.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in a recent awareness campaign, took even more drastic step stating that visitors should consider leaving all of their devices at home. Instead uggesting that travelers carry a burner phone, which doesn't contain personal data or secure information might be a good idea.It was also suggested that you change your passwords often while you are there.

In the end all of these warnings are meaningless unless the user actually implements a good plan. If you are traveling to Rio for the games you should make sure all your data is backed-up, not only in-case of security breach but of loss or theft (another real threat). You should, as always, make sure your devices and security software are fully updated with the latest patches, virus definitions ect. You should also run frequent scans just in-case.

The most important thing though is to be DILIGENT! Don't open odd emails, click links without confirming them, use odd sites or download software from unknown places and you should be fine!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Twitter Opens Account Verification to Everyone But There's A Catch

For several years now Twitter has made attempts at filtering out imposter accounts from the real deal by verifying high profile business and celebrity accounts. For the most part the process and qualifications to becoming Twitter Verified has been a little bit vague to say the least. There wasn’t really a formal procedure to request a verified account, but as of today that has all changed.

Twitter has announced that they have created an online application process that makes it possible for just about anyone to request account verification. There is however, a bit of a catch. Twitter must deem you worthy of being verified - shocking I know but we'll get into that below.

“We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification,” Twitter User Services VP Tina Bhatnagar said in a press release Tuesday. “We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

Getting Started
The process to becoming verified is pretty simple and for the most part Twitter has streamlined things as much as possible. For starters users who want to verify their account will obviously need to verify themselves, it wouldn't make much sense otherwise right? You''l need to first verify a few things like your phone number and email associated with your account. You'll also need to have an actual photo and bio on your profile, if you are an individual it will need to be a photo and info on you. Twitter may also request that you scan and upload a legible copy of your government-issued ID (such as a passport or driver’s license) to confirm your identity.

If you are looking to verify a business the photos will need to have the corporation’s branding, or the company’s branding. The email address and website associated with the account will also need to point to a corporate or company email address or website.

In addition to those basics Twitter says they may ask you for a few more things, and here is where things start to get a bit tricky. Someone, or a team of someones at Twitter are going to judge whether or not you are worthy of being verified. To do so Twitter is going to ask you to explain to them why they should bother with verifying your account. If the account represents a person, they want to understand your impact in your field. If the account represents a corporation or company, they want to know what your company's mission statement is.

What Does It Take To Be Twitter Verified?
Essentially  what it boils down to is Twitter wants to know if you are truly a person of public interest. What exactly does that mean? Well Twitter says the accounts they are most looking to verify are those maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. So we are guessing here that they are looking for people that are high profile and attract a lot of attention.

This really doesn't give us much to go on as there doesn't seem to be much in the form of official criteria for what makes one person “of public interest” and another not. We've seen several of our fellow bloggers as well as several media personalities that have verified account while co-workers or cohorts in the same field don't. Either way at least now we have a bit more detail and a bit easier route to take to get verified.

Want To Get Verified? Submit Your Request To Twitter

You can submit your request to verify an account by filling out this form, and Twitter will respond to your request via email. If your request is denied, you can submit another request for the same account 30 days after receiving the email.

Even if you aren't sure if you should become verified or not, I say go for it. You really have nothing to lose here. Just think, if you are verified you'll become one of the 187,000 or so people out of 310 million or so that are verified on the site.

Monday, July 18, 2016

New Devices Means Windows Phones Might Not Be Dead After All

When it comes to the smartphone race not many people are using phones with Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system these days. In fact, for most just finding a device that supports the fledgling OS can be a chore. Even then the pickings are very slim with only a few devices clinging to life. It looks like that may soon be changing however, and we are sure glad it is!

Windows 10 Mobile's market-share may just be a blip on the radar these days, hovering between 1-3%, but the operating system is gaining new signs of life thanks to key additions from some major industry players. HP, Acer and even Lenovo are releasing brand new high end device running Microsoft's latest mobile operating system.

HP Elite x3

Taking another stab at the smartphone market for the first time in years, HP will soon start shipping their new flagship phone the Elite x3. First announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February the Elite x3 will feature some rather impressive specs that will put it in the same class as powerhouse Android devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and LG’s G5. It has a 5.96-inch AMOLED screen that can display images at a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip, which has a graphics processor capable of processing 4K video, 4GBs of ram and 64GBs of storage space.

HP Elite x3 Specifications:
  • Dimensions: 83.5 x 7.8 x 161.8 mm 195g
  • Screen: 5.96-inch AMOLED display with WQHD 2560 x 1440 px resolution, Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 @ 2.15 GHz
  • Storage: 64GB expandable to up to 2TB with microSD
  • 16MP rear camera
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • Dual nano SIM or nano SIM + microSD via 3-in-2 card tray
  • Iris scanner
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • IP67 rating for dust- and water-resistance
  • MIL-STD-810 rating, assuring device protection for drops from up to 1 meter
  • USB 3.0 port with Type-C connector
  • 4150 mAh battery, non-removable

Lenovo SoftBank 503LV

Last year, when Microsoft first announced the release of Windows 10 for phones, it mentioned Lenovo as one of its hardware partners. However, we haven't hear anything about this from Lenovo - not until now. The company this week unveiled its very first Windows 10 smartphone the SoftBank 503LV. Unfortunately we have seen rumors this device might be available in Japan only, however one can hope that all this new interest and competition will mean it will make it to the US.

The SoftBank 503LV derives its name in part due to the fact that it is a collaboration with Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Being Lenovo's first entry into the Windows 10 Mobile market the Lenovo SoftBank 503LV features some rather basic specs. which we see as rather unfortunate. It will have a 5-inch 720p display and is powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor (the same chipset that powers the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus, and HTC One A9), coupled with 3GB of RAM and an internal storage capacity of 32GB that is expandable up to 128GB via a microSD card.

Liquid Jade Primo

Acer has been one of the few companies that has stood with Microsoft in partnership releasing multiple Windows Mobile phones dating back to early 2015 when they released their first Windows Mobile phone the Liquid M220. This year we have seen them step up their game, releasing not one but two new devices. Back in April we saw their first release with the Liquid M330, a $99 entry level device for the budget minded. This week they took things up another notch with the release of their newest 'flag ship device' the Liquid Jade Primo.

During the IFA conference at the beginning of September 2015, Acer first unveiled the Liquid Jade Primo, giving users a glimpse at what was at the time going to be the company's first Windows 10 Mobile handset. Featuring a Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080px) AMOLED screen and 3GBs RAM the Liquid Jade Primo packs an impressive punch.

Acer Liquid Jade Primo Specifications:
  • Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080px) AMOLED screen
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage (plus microSD card support up to 128GB)
  • 21MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and 4K (3840x2160px) video recording
  • 8MP front-facing camera with Full HD (1920x1080px) video recording
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • USB Type-C connector
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Dual-SIM support
  • 2800mAh battery
  • 156.5 x 75.9 x 8.4mm; 150g

All three device will feature support for Windows Continuum, one of Microsoft's newest features which turns your phone into a pseudo-PC allowing you to run universal Windows apps directly from your phone on just about any large format screen. You can then connect a mouse and keyboard and use your phone just as though you would a laptop, tablet or desktop, all while keeping the full function of a phone.

Acer's Liquid Jade Primo and HP's Elite x3 will also features bundles that include a Desk Dock for not only Continuum support, but additional USB, power and networking connections as well. Pricing starts at $649 for the unlocked Acer Liquid Jade Primo with a dock, keyboard and mouse and $699 for HP's Elite x3 (though we don't believe that includes and extra peripherals).

I don''t know about my fellow geeks out there but I for one applaud Microsoft and their partners for continuing the fight for a 3rd smartphone platform. I'm a firm believer that competition brings innovation and right now we aren't seeing a ton of that coming from Apple or Google with iOS and Android. I think that should Microsoft succeed, in breaking into even a small portion of the market, we might see some great things. They definitely have a major mountain to climb and will need a lot of help from developers in getting apps made for the OS. I feel though once that is done they might have a chance.

What about you guys? Do these new devices get you excited for more Windows 10 Mobile, or do you think they'll just be another flash in the pan?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Amazon Video Adds Additional Offline Viewing Support With Download to SD Card Option

Great news for you geeks that love having the ability to watch movies and videos while offline. Amazon Video has added an option for offline viewing that will also allow you to free up space on your Android phone or tablet. This new download to SD card feature is available for both purchased video and Prime Video. Videos can be downloads to an SD card on a per-item basis, or the card can also be selected as a default destination for downloads allowing you to avoid downloading and saving items to your device.

Amazon's announcement comes on the heels of reports that Netflix will soon add the much requested  feature for offline viewing of their own movies and titles. While Amazon Prime customers have enjoyed the benefits of offline viewing for some time, this new feature will simply open up more options and more space for them to take more videos with them on the go.

One of the big advantages of Amazon’s streaming service versus competitors like Netflix and Hulu is the ability to download movies and TV shows. Prime members have access to many free movies and TV shows, while non-Prime members can rent and buy titles to stream or download.

Historically speaking, Netflix has been rather stringent on their options and has done a lot of work to avoid allowing customers offline access. Somewhat quizzically, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt in late 2015 even went so far as to claim that Netflix doesn’t offer the feature because it doesn’t represent a “very compelling proposition.”

“I think it’s something that lots of people ask for,” Hunt explained further stating “we’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use. Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime – you have to remember that you want to download this thing. It’s not going to be instant. You have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it’s worth providing that level of complexity.”

In order to use the new feature you'll need to grab the latest version of the Amazon Video app by visiting the Play Store. Once you give this new feature a whirl let us know what you think in the comments below!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Nintendo Goes Old School With The New NES Classic Mini

That old quote that "All things old become new again" may in fact hold true, well sort of! We all know geeks love their nostalgic old PC's and gaming consoles. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that companies are starting to look at ways to cash in on that love affair with the past generations and Nintendo is looking to do just that.

Nintendo Entertainment System has announced the new NES Classic Edition, a mini replica of the original console that will come packed with 30 of your favorite original Nintendo titles.

“We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers.”

For $59.99, you'll get the preloaded games, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter and one NES Classic Controller, which obviously looks exactly like the ones you're used to. Other details of the system are a bit sparse for now, so we don't know what the hardware looks like, or whether or not you can upgrade or add more games to the console over time. We also don't know overall storage capacity, yet Nintendo promises you can save games with multiple suspend points.

The full list of games includes Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Dr. Mario, Excitebike, Final Fantasy, Galaga, Ghosts' N Ghoblins, Gradius, Ice Climber, Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Pac-Man, Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, StarTropics, SUPER C, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

[Update:] We now know have a bit more detail regarding additional games and the potential or upgrades. The folks at Kotaku asked Nintendo, “On the same note: does Nintendo plan to sell other NES games for the mini-NES beyond the 30 it comes preloaded with?”

Nintendo then responded by saying, “No. The console is a standalone device, so it cannot connect to the internet or any external storage devices. The 30 games included with the system were chosen to provide a wide variety of top-quality, long-lasting game-play experiences.” Given that, we don't expect to see official support for additional games or upgrades. However, we know that this doesn't mean that geeks out there won't stop there. So we fully expect to see some hacks down the road, to what extent those might be? We'll just have to wait and see!

For more information, visit;

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Celebrate The Fourth of July With 4 Free Months of Google Play Music and YouTube Red

To help entice new users to join Google Play Music this Independence day weekend, Google is offering up four free months of Google Play Music as well as access to the monthly-paid subscription service YouTube Red. The offer is only available this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, so you'll want to act fast to get that extended trial period.

 All you need to do is head over to Google Play and sign up for the service. Even though the offer is for four months of free service, you will need to be a new subscriber and enter valid credit card information. You should also note that you will need to cancel the subscription before the end of the 4months (by approximately Nov 42tnd) or you be charged $9.99 after the trial is over.