Estately: The App That Helps You Find A New Home

If you are in the very fortunate position to be able to afford to move home, then there is a fair chance you would like to browse for your future pad using your iPhone. An online real estate company Estately is all about getting you into your new place ASAP.  The company has released its first app to help you do just that, but instead of doing just the same as all the rest of the real estate apps on the market do, Estately wanted to do things a little differently.

Estately’s team have taken on board the minimalist styling of iOS 7 and made the application attractive to look at and instinctive to use. The app itself is only 9MB to download and once downloaded all you have to do is enter the area in which you would like to move to.  Next, a map covered in pins of all the properties for sale in that area appears. Tap one to see images, a description, price and other significant details. There’s also a filter that is pretty comprehensive, to adjust your results to better suit your needs.
Once you are happy with the house, then you can save it to your own watch list, or call the Real Estate agent directly to arrange a viewing.   If you want the save feature, then you will need to sign up, but there’s the substantial benefit of receiving notifications once you have done so.  These notifications then alert you to price changes or if your dream house suddenly sells! Estately have said that it checks all its listings, which are gathered from more than 70 different sources, every 15 minutes, which is needless to say, a pretty impressive feature.
Other features include the capacity to add open house dates to your iPhone’s iCal, receive a notification when a house matching your search criteria is newly added and even a estimated travel time from your current home to a potential new one.
The photos on the app can be viewed in either portrait or landscape and it even incorporates a pinch-to-zoom function.  Estately’s app is free to download from the iTunes App Store and its database covers 35 U.S. states. Sadly there’s no word on an Android version being made available just yet.
Read More

Google selling Motorola phone business to Lenovo for $2.9 billion

 Google is selling Motorola's smartphone business to Lenovo for $2.9 billion, a price that makes Google's biggest acquisition look like its most expensive mistake.

The deal announced on Wednesday will rid Google Inc. of a financial headache that has plagued the internet company since buying Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion in 2012. Motorola has lost nearly $2 billion since Google took over, while trimming its workforce from 20,000 to 3,800.   

Google had previously recovered some of the money that it spent on Motorola by selling the company's set-top operations last year to Arris Group Inc. for $2.35 billion. Google is also keeping most of the patents that came with the Motorola purchase.

It's unclear if Google will have to absorb a charge to account for the difference between what it paid for Motorola Mobility and what it is getting back. The Mountain View, California, company may address the issue Thursday when it announces its fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes.

Most investors viewed Motorola as an unnecessary drain on Google's profit, a perspective that was reflected by Wall Street's reaction to the sale. Google's stock gained $28.08, or 2.5%, to $1,135 in extended trading.

While Google is backpedaling, Lenovo Group Ltd. is gearing up for a major expansion. Already the world's largest maker of personal computers, Lenovo now appears determined to become a bigger player in smartphones as more people rely on them instead of laptop and desktop computers to go online.

Lenovo already is among the smartphone leaders in its home country of China, but it has been looking for ways to expand its presence in other markets, especially the US and Latin America. The company had been rumored to be among the prospective buyers for BlackBerry Ltd. when that troubled smartphone maker was mulling a sale last year.

This marks Lenovo's second high-profile deal this month. The company announced plans last week to buy a major piece of IBM Corp.'s computer server business for $2.3 billion.

Buying Motorola will enable Lenovo to join Apple Inc. as the only major technology companies with global product lines in PCs, smartphones and tablets, putting Lenovo in a better position to become a one-stop shop for companies to buy all their devices from the same vendor, said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.

"This makes Lenovo a company to watch,'' Gillett said in an email. "The personal device manufacturer business is consolidating, and manufacturers must compete in all three device markets, plus emerging wearable categories, or get left out of the next market shift.''

After it takes over, Lenovo plans to retain a Motorola management team led by Dennis Woodside. Google had reassigned Woodside, one of its top executive, to run Motorola Mobility in hopes he could engineer a turnaround. Under Woodside, Motorola released two new smartphones last year, the Moto X and Moto G. The phones attracted lots of headlines, but didn't sell as well as anticipated, analysts say.

Lenovo executives also said they aren't planning to lay off any more Motorola employees and that the subsidiary would remain based in its current headquarters in Libertyville, Illinois.

"We buy this business, we buy this team as our treasure,'' Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said during a Wednesday conference call.

Google is retaining most of Motorola's portfolio of mobile patents, providing the company with legal protection for its widely used Android software for smartphones and tablet computers. Gaining control of Motorola's patents was the main reason Google CEO Larry Page decided to pay so much for Motorola Mobility at a time the smartphone maker was already losing money and market share.

Most analysts thought Page had paid too much money for Motorola and questioned why Google wanted to own a smartphone maker at the risk of alienating other mobile device makers that rely on Android.

Selling Motorola's smartphone operations will "enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem,'' Page said in a statement.

Lenovo is picking up about 2,000 Motorola patents in addition to the phone manufacturing operations.
Read More

New Malware Infects PC & Connected Phones

Everybody with a cell phone and a laptop have connected the two together to transfer a file or to root the device, or to simply browse the system in a more convenient way.  People in general view this way as the most secure way of transferring files, particularly since they have the hardware on their lap, as opposed to the cloud method of file transfer.  

After reading this you may think again though, as a piece of malware has recently been uncovered that tries to infect an Android device that is connected to an infected Windows PC.  This Trojan attempts to install mobile banking malware and acts in reverse to what has been previously seen.  There has been Android malware that attempts to infect Windows systems when the infected Android device connects to the machine.

This new piece of malware is called Trojan.Droidpak (named by Symantec), works by placing a .dll file on the infected PC and then registers a new system service to make certain its persistence across all system reboots.
The Trojan downloads 2 different files from a remote server that has a malicious .apk file named AV-cdk.apk.  It then also downloads the Android Debug Bridge command line tool, which allows users to execute commands on Android devices connected to a PC. The Trojan has been coded as such to activate a command that checks to see if an Android device is associated to the host computer at any time. When the Trojan detects this, then the malicious APK is mutely installed upon it.
But panic not people! As there is a very straightforward solution to this conflict.  The only way that the Trojan can be installed on the Android device is if the “USB debugging” option is turned on.  If you are afraid that you maybe at risk, then simply turn this feature off.  USB debugging is normally used for development purposes, but it is also required for certain things that Android users like to do, such as rooting the Operating System.
This malware looks to target online banking users from South Korea.  The APK itself is named Android.Fakebank.B and it uses the same icon as the Google Play Store, but it reads ‘Google App Store’.  The APK also intercepts text messages received by users and sends them to a remote server, which can be used for transaction fraud.
Don’t be fooling into thinking, “I don’t bank in South Korea so I will be ok’ as malware coders more often than not, like to borrow each other’s code.  So, the best way to avoid this risk is to leave USB debugging off until you absolutely need it, and only connect your device to a computer that you trust.
Read More

RIP Facebook in 2017?

People it seem, have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Some love it, some hate it, and some may admit that they have a slight addiction and that they hate to love it. You can’t go very far without hearing about someone on Facebook, seeing someone on Facebook, or running into someone who is constantly scanning their newsfeed on Facebook. Some even believe that Facebook is one of the great epidemics of the 21st century and that it is ruining the younger (and older) generation. Let’s face it – sometimes, Facebook seems to do more harm than good – can you honestly say you’ve never gotten jealous over something that a “friend” posted?
Regardless of how you may feel toward the social media giant, there are some out there who think Facebook may be pushing up daisies within the next few years. And this isn’t just coming from people off of the street – some researchers that hail from Princeton have studied Facebook and it appears to them that it is following a trend much like the bubonic plague. Basically, what they’re saying is that if Facebook follows the path of the plague, it will eventually fizzle away as people become immune to it.

What Will A World Without Facebook Look Like?
Their research has even been published, and the following quote is a summation of their findings:
“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models… Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of ‘immunity’ to the idea.”
Their findings go on to state that Facebook might lose 80% of their users by the year 2017 if their predictions hold true.
As someone who has regularly used Facebook since its inception, it’s hard for me to imagine a world without it. I’d have to imagine that it would be a world where more people actually interacted with each other, though, and that’s never a bad thing. While it has undoubtedly made communication a lot easier with those around the world, it’s also made it all the more difficult to communicate with those who remain closest to us.
What do you think? Will Facebook meet its maker in your lifetime?
Read More

Apple To Enter Mobile Payments Market

Do you use Paypal?  Many of us do!  But Apple has also started laying the foundations for a strong mobile payment service.  Eddy Cue,  App Store chief, has met with many payment decision makers in order to discuss the company’s potential in creating a payments business for goods and services, says the Wall Street Journal.  Apple has supposedly met with at least five payments industry administrators but has apparently chosen Jennifer Bailey, head of the company’s online store, to construct the new venture.

 This push towards a bigger mobile payments service is not a new idea by Apple but they have been exploring this aspect since 2011 when they began working on a ‘wallet app’ that had the potential to become a mobile payment service.  They ultimately got rid of the project as there were worried about near-field-communication technology’s drain on battery life as well as potential problems with customers who might blame Apple for bad customer service from outside merchants.
By 2017, it is estimated, by research firm Forrester, that Americans will spend over $90 billion on mobile payments.  It is a fast growing business.  American’s spend around $12.8 billion already.
Stripe recently announced they would spend $80 million in new funding, making it the fastest-growing payments startup at $1.75 billion.

On an April 2013 conference call, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, told investors that Mobile payment technology is still in the early stages.  But if anyone has the technology and resources to create a captivating Mobile payments technology, it’s Apple!
So far, besides Apple’s own digital wares, the mobile payments have been limited to Passbook which is an in-built app for storing digital coupons, tickets, gift cards as well as mobile payments.   It is still foggy as to whether Passbook would be built up or a completely new wallet app be created.
Read More

Rights To “Gears of War” Now Belong To Microsoft

Microsoft just pulled off a huge deal, something that may give Xbox a huge edge over the PlayStation. Remember Microsoft saying that the spec difference between the two consoles is fairly marginal and that it will all boil down to games? Well, it now all makes sense!

Xbox Wire just announced that the rights to “Gears of War” now belong to Microsoft, which used to belong to Epic Games. The acquisition covers a lot of ground, including rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise. I bet the Microsoft execs are hearing kaching, kaching, and even more kaching!

So what will happen to the game franchise now?
The task of developing the game now rests on the shoulders of Vancouver-based (Canada) Black Tusk Studios. Furthermore, Rod Fergusson, former director of production at Epic Games on the Gears of War franchise, will be joining the Microsoft family. He will take on a key role at the development studio, probably ensuring that the franchise that gamers have come to love will continue to satisfy its fans.
And what does Epic Games have to say about this?

“Epic Games has reached an agreement to sell the ‘Gears of War’ intellectual property rights to Microsoft.  We’re very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”

“Gears of War” is one of the most iconic Xbox franchises, although the most recent version of the game did not really perform as well as the previous ones.
What remains to be seen is how the change in development studio will affect the next installment of the franchise. This is a huge move, for sure, but what will matter most to gamers is news and details about the next game. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to talk about in that regard, although Microsoft says we’re sure to hear news about the new “Gears of War” later this year.
Read More

Linux: why it's the third gaming platform

Linux comes in many forms, with gaming quickly becoming its forte

For years Linux was perceived as the reserve of the truly geeky. The system admin, programmers and developers of the world kept the secrets of the streamlined OS to themselves, and the wider public for whatever reason has never really become excited about an open-source system to rival Windows.

Full Steam ahead:
Big news for Linux gamers came at the end of 2012 in the form of a Steam beta for Linux - Valve's big seal of approval that Linux gaming was ready for prime-time.
There's now over 270 compatible games in the library, and though most are indie titles rather than triple-A games with million-pound budgets, the selection is getting better all the time, thanks to Valve's full on commitment to Steam with their Steam Machine project.

Ouya: an affordable microconsole

The home-hacking market is a growing area of Ouya ownership, with full-blown variants of Linux available alongside versions of XBMC and a range of console emulators too.

While Valve is doing a stirling effort in driving Linux forward, It's not all down to Gabe Newell and crew to seal Linux in the minds of gamers. Since smashing it's $950k target and raking in over $8.5M in funding on Kickstarter, Ouya has proved itself as a tiny console that can still hold its own in the living room.
Despite marketed as being built upon Android, underneath you're getting a miniature Linux-powered console, that took its choice of Linux from the Google campus so as to ensure gaming compatibility with a wide range of applications from the start.
Appeasing to Linux philosophies, Ouya's games are all 'free to play', which translated actually means 'try before you buy' for most titles. There are some games that are truly free of any extra financial commitments, most of the better titles include in-app purchases or even subscriptions.
The home-hacking market is a growing area of Ouya ownership, with full-blown variants of Linux available alongside versions of XBMC and a range of console emulators too.

Android's Linux roots
The final part of the Linux gaming puzzle comes in with a strong hand from Android. Google's mobile OS , like the others mentioned, doesn't run a flat out recognisable form of Linux, but instead uses a standard Linux kernel and a lot of the utilities and code that a desktop Linux machine would.
Like desktop variants, there's a wide range of GUIs that sit atop of the kernel to present a user interface for the user to interact with, whether it's Samsung partners like HTC and Samsung, or the one of the popular rooted versions of Android from folks such as CyanogenMod.
Android gaming has come on an awful lot over the last couple of years, with game devs able to really push the capabilities of what a mobile platform can deliver. The Linux foundation is what makes games so easily ported to different Android platforms like Ouya, as well as making the customisation of Google's platform so much more open to developers and designers.
So you see, Linux may not be the name of the third gaming platform, but the next time you pick up your Android-powered phone, sit down in front of your PlayStation 4 or build yourself a Steam Machine, you'll still be playing with a variant of Linux.

Read More

OS X 10.10: what to expect here!

With OS X Mavericks, Apple showed it still had tricks up its sleeve regarding desktop operating systems. Long-time apps like Finder got welcome upgrades and rubbed shoulders with newcomers from iOS, such as iBooks and Maps.

Multiple display support was given an overhaul, and iCloud Keychain made its debut, to help Mac and iOS users keep regularly used online details safe.
There were big improvements to battery life and app efficiency, and to ensure everyone with a supported Mac could upgrade with a minimum of fuss, Apple scrapped price tags entirely, making Mavericks the first free major OS X update.
But what happens next? When will the successor to Mavericks appear, and what will it offer? What will it be called, and what will it look like once Jony Ive's got his claws in deep? As ever, Apple is keeping quiet, but we've made some educated guesses about what's to come in OS X 10.10…

Read More

Google buys AI start-up DeepMind to go with all of those terrifying robots

Google's recent spree of expensive acquisitions has continued with the company splashing out on London-based artificial intelligence firm DeepMind, it was confirmed on Sunday.
According to Recode, the Mountain View giant has handed over $400m (£242m, AU$460m) for the little-known AI firm in order to acquire the firm's talent roster, although Google hasn't confirmed the fee.

According to its website, DeepMind is "a cutting edge artificial intelligence company," which combines "the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms."
It is not known what Google plans to do with the three year old firm, who's first commercial applications come through "simulations, e-commerce and games."

Turning to a new Page
DeepMind was co-founded by "gaming prodigy and neuroscientist" Dennis Hassabis and claims to have been backed by some of the most notable tech entrepreneurs of the last decade.
Recode's report, which claimed the company has around 50 employees, said the deal was spearheaded by Google CEO Larry Page.
The acquisition comes at a time Google, under the stewardship of Android co-founder Andy Rubin is investing heavily in robotics companies. The reasons for which are yet to be disclosed.
Just last month the company picked up Boston Dynamics, famous for its awesome yet slightly terrifying array of animal-like robots. Do we really need a 29mph Cheetah robot infused with artificial intelligence?

Read More

Partition your hard drive: keep your data safe

Partition your hard drive to protect your files

We've always advocated keeping your docs, files and other data on a separate drive to Windows and your applications. That way if something goes wrong with Windows, your data is kept safe.
It's not always viable to purchase a second internal hard drive for your PC though, which is where partitioning comes in. Partitioning allows you to divide a large hard drive into two or more smaller drives, each one to all intents and purposes a separate physical drive.
In this tutorial we'll show you how to divide a single drive into two partitions, then move your data across to the new partition so Windows knows where to find it.
The actual partitioning process is simple, but we suggest caution following the tips in the annotation opposite if unmovable files are preventing you from shrinking drive C: to an acceptable size. You might find using Partition Wizard Home Edition useful as well.

Read More

5G Rollout By 2020 in South Korea

The government of South Korea is seeking to establish the country as a world leader in 5G technologies and has pledged 1.6 trillion won (£905 million) to rollout the next generation of mobile data services by 2020.

The Ministry of Science has said in a statement to AFP, “We helped fuel national growth with 2G services in the 1990s, 3G in the 2000s and 4G around 2010. Now it is time to take pre-emptive action to develop 5G…Countries in Europe, China and the US are making aggressive efforts to develop 5G technology … and we believe there will be fierce competition in this market in a few years.”  The new 5G networks could allow users to download an 800 MB film in one second and would allow passengers on bullet trains travelling at speeds of 500 kph (310mph) to access Internet services, (the current limit is 300kph).

The government hopes to establish a trial of 5G in the next 3 years and priority will be given to developing features such as hologram transmission and Ultra HD Video.  The government claims that related industries will benefit from the rollout and they predict that operators, equipment makers and manufacturers could generate sales of 331 trillion won in the first 6 years after rollout.
The Ministry of Science hopes to enlist the support of tech giants Samsung and LG, but also wants to help the nation’s network equipment industry, which commands a far smaller worldwide market share than its device makers, which control 30 percent of the market – mainly through the Samsung brand.  Samsung itself are working on 5G technology and last year announced it had achieved speeds of 1Gbps using millimetre wave bands (these are frequencies around 28GHz), using adaptive array transceivers.
South Korea is already one of the most connected countries on the planet and has been a world leader in 4G adoption rates; now the Ministry of Science says it is taking “pre-emptive” action to gain a head start over its Asian, European and US rivals in 5G developments.
Read More

Sprint To Allow Wi-Fi Calling

Sprint is one of those cell phone companies that no one really seems to hear about all that much anymore. That might be changing over the coming months, though. It has been leaked through the grapevine that Sprint will probably soon be allowing their customers to make calls over Wi-Fi service. This would definitely be very welcome news for anyone who consistently goes over or even ever comes close to going over their minutes each month. With Wi-Fi calling, any minutes used would not count toward the monthly voice usage. Along with the voice calls over Wi-Fi service, text messages are also able to be sent and received.
If and when Sprint decides to enable this feature on their phones, they would still be behind T-Mobile who has offered this service for the past few years.

It might be a while before most Sprint customers can use and enjoy the Wi-Fi calling feature as Sprint only plans on having it available on 2 smartphones to begin with: the Galaxy Mega and the Galaxy S4. Obviously, if it is successful Sprint will most likely add the feature to several other smartphones in their arsenal.
This news from Sprint does bring up some questions. Since many of their smartphone plans include unlimited talk, text, and data, how useful will this feature end up being? I do realize that if you have poor reception at your house, Wi-Fi calling would be a great asset to have. It is also noted that phones won’t be able to go directly from using Wi-Fi to using a cell tower – if you lose your wireless signal you will also lose your call. That could get annoying after a few times.
Read More

Rapide One: Affordable Professional Desktop 3D Printer

Everybody is into 3D printing in some way or another these days and although the industry is really still in its fledgling stage there is still a gap in the market for a desktop 3D printer capable of producing high quality professional pieces.  That is until now.  The Rapide One has been hailed as the first true desktop 3D Printer to offer professional rapid prototyping with stunning design and functionality, with a reasonable price tag.

The Rapide One printer has a full cartridge system built into the top of the printer to reduce overall size and to make usage simple and easy with zero mess, which is common with external, mounted spools found in most 3D printers.  With this design you can choose to use a cartridge or just load material into the top of the machine without a cartridge. This cartridge system will allow the user to change colour and material type for each print both quickly and easily.

The printer is also designed to be plug and play. With the unique enclosed housing and cartridge system you can apparently just set up the print build, click start and walk away from it and get on with other matters. When the build has been completed you simply remove the finished product. If this is the case, then it opens up endless possibilities for ‘print shops’ because the requirement to supervise each build is now no longer required.  The Rapide One has been touted as ‘more than just a box’ it is a complete solution; the next generation in desktop 3D Printing.

Read More

Playstation Now: EU Earmarked For 2015 Release

Sony has been at the cutting edge of gaming technology for a number of years now with the Playstation brand.  It seems like only yesterday when I was gripping a wired controller attached to a Sony Playstation, skilfully negotiating the levels of Bubble Bobble and the like.
Soon gamers from all over the world will be able to enjoy classic games on all compatible Sony consoles and devices, thanks to Playstation Now.  I say “the world over” but I mean everywhere apart from gamers in the EU and that includes the United Kingdom.  We will have to wait for at least 12 months before we can treat ourselves the vast library of content on PlayStation Now.  Playstation Now was recetly unveiled at CES 2014.

According to a slide from an official PlayStation Now presentation, (which was obtained by Eurogamer) the new streaming service is to be launched in Europe in the first quarter of 2015!
PlayStation Now brings its immense library of PlayStation and PSP games to the cloud, which can then be streamed and played on any compatible device a player wishes to game upon.  Playstation gamers can either purchase individual titles individually or they can sign up for a PlayStation Now subscription.
All PlayStation platforms, including the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita will be connected from the middle of the second quarter of 2014, after the initial PlayStation 4 compatibility. SEL devices, including Bravia TVs will also be compatible in the fourth quarter of 2014.  This is to be followed by unknown “partner devices” before the end of 2014.  PlayStation Now will be launched in South Korea and Japan near to the end of 2014/2015.  “Europe has the longest wait of all, with PlayStation Now set to arrive in the first quarter of 2015 according to our sources”, notes Eurogamer.
Read More

Microsoft Says Spec Difference Between Xbox One & PS4 is “Fairly Marginal”

The battle between Xbox and PlayStation has always been full of passion – that of the respective console’s enthusiastic fans – and it continues to rage with the launch of the latest versions: Xbox One and PS4. Naturally, we can expect the respective sides to highlight each console’s advantages and to downplay the downsides.
And, just as naturally, people who work for Microsoft and Sony are quick to defend their product. Take Alan Bowman, Australasian vice president of retail sales and marketing of Microsoft, who has been quoted over and over again for stating that the spec difference between Xbox One and PS4 is “fairly marginal”.

Bowman talked about this during an interview with Gameplanet, where he also talked about continuous support and development for Xbox 360. So yeah, if you own an Xbox 360 and have no immediate plans of getting the new console, you’ll probably still be able to enjoy new games for your console.
And, speaking of games, Bowman was basically emphasizing that the success of gaming consoles will largely depend on the games – and not the spec difference between the two. I suppose that we can argue over and over again as to which console is superior technology, but as much of a PlayStation fan as I am, I think I’ll have to agree with Bowman about the games in this case.
For a deeper analysis of the spec difference between Xbox One and PS4, here’s a video by IGN.
Read More

Windows 8 Boot Issues? Try Fixing the Master Boot Record (MBR) or Boot Configuration Data (BCD)

Windows 8 received a decent amount of enhancements on the desktop side that I tend to appreciate versus running Windows 7, even if that means I get Metro standing in the middle here and there occasionally. One such area of improvement is notification management and how it handles updates and system restarts. Running the final version of the OS for a few months now, it’s been a painless affair until this past weekend.

I shut down my desktop PC with the purpose of connecting new hardware and on the way out I was prompted to “update and shutdown”. Sure, why not. I went on to install a secondary SSD for maintenance purposes and apparently that was enough for my system to refuse booting right after. I tried to backtrack to no avail.

Because I had disconnected a few devices, it took me a while to narrow things down to my boot SSD, and for a second I even thought the SSD had gone forever kaput. After booting with a different drive and noting I could read all my data on the drive in question, I took a deep breath and started to troubleshoot the boot record. Once you settle on the idea that it’s not a hardware problem and you are unable to boot up, your best bet is to try to fix the MBR (Master Boot Record).
Read More

“Windows 7 is Back” Says HP

“Windows 7 is Back” Says HP

HP looks as though it is taking its stand against Windows 8. Over the weekend the company sent its customers emails, informing them that “Windows 7 is back”.
The PC making company has launched a new promotion on its website, offering people a saving of $150, if they choose Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.
If the message isn’t clear enough, then the slogan “back by popular demand”, should clear everything up. Upon entering the website, if you select to browse HP’s selection of desktop PCs, then you’ll notice that you are only given the option of Windows 7 machines by default. If you want to view Windows 8 PCs, then you have to actually customize the search using the optional filters. When searching for laptops, it is pretty much the same, though there are a few Windows 8 laptops included in the results. When it comes to the all-in-one section of the site, Windows doesn’t even get a look in, with the main feature being the company’s Android-powered PC.

Hp is the first company to sell Windows 7 over Windows 8. It’s no wonder Microsoft is keen to move away from the 8 branding. So expect big changes with Windows 9.
Read More

Google is Still The Best Place to Work

Are you looking for a good company to start a career with? Or, are you looking to make some kind of a mid-career change in your life? If so, I can tell you with certainty who the best company to work for is  - at least in the way that they are known for treating their employees. It turns out that Fortune Magazine, for the third year in a row has put Google at the top of their list for the best places to work if you want to be treated well. Is this all that surprising? Not really. Google has been known to be a wonderful employer for years.
You might be wondering – what is it that makes Google such a great place to work? To put it simply, they treat their employees like royalty, and it shows in their collective work performance.

Just A Few Benefits Of Working At Google…
Here’s just a few of Google’s top perks as reported by the Huffington Post in 2013. If you work for Google and are having a baby, they will give you 5 months of paid time off with full benefits – and best of all, new moms can split up that time however they’d like to. Google also provides on-site laundry services for their employees, free awesome food, and free commuting shuttles with Wi-Fi on-board. Their California headquarters include a skating rink, horseshoe pits, massages, and dance lessons all for free. Reading all these Google perks has me questioning my own career at the moment.
In an era where more and more people seem to be working only for a paycheck, those who work for Google really seem to love their jobs and it shows in Google’s low turnover rate. If only more companies went out of their way to value their employees over their bottom line.
Read More

Adobe Introduces 3D Printing Support

The convenience – not to mention the cool factor - of being able to print 3D items is hard to ignore. Imagine being able to print your own iPhone cases. How about little TARDISes and bobbleheads of your favorite fictional characters? Heck, why stick with fictional characters? If you’re the obsessive type, you could even 3D print a real person in your life!

While 3D printers may not be found in every household – yet – I think that it’s pretty safe to say that we will get there some day. After all, it used to be that inkjet or laser printers were not that easy to come by. With manufacturers such as Makerbot coming up with 3D printers that do not cost an arm and a leg – a little less than $3,000 for the Replicator, a desktop 3D printer – we’ll probably be seeing more of these beasts at home.

But 3D printing is not just about the machine. Of course, that is essential, but 3D printing software is just as essential; and that’s where software shops like Adobe come into play.

As a testament to the continuing rise of 3D printing, Adobe has introduced 3D printing support, which will allow you create all sorts of 3D-printed items straight from Photoshop!

Adobe’s vice president of products for its Creative Media Solutions team, Winston Hendrickson says that:

The new 3D print capabilities in Photoshop CC take the guess work out of printing 3D models for everyone. Before today, there was a gap between the content produced in 3D modeling tools and what 3D printers need in order to deliver high quality results. Now, by simply clicking ‘Print’ in Photoshop CC, creatives can bring 3D designs to the physical world
Read More

Microsoft To Spend Billions in Mobile Subsidies

Windows manufacturer, Microsoft, is about to complete its acquirement of Nokia.  Obviously other Windows Phone manufactures do not like this at all. When the deal has been completed, the innovative  software manufacturer will finish up owning approximately 90% of the Windows Phone market, thereby leaving little or no room at all for any healthy competition.

Monopoly is not something any company wants. But before you question this statement, think about this for a moment; in order to have a prosperous environment that can compete with the likes of Android, Microsoft needs numerous vendors to make Windows Phone devices in order to keep the prices low. If prices remain too high, consumers will switch to other devices, such as Apple. Microsoft needs to get current customers to stay on board by any means necessary.

Rumours have said that Microsoft will spend some $2.6 billion to subsidize other handset manufacturers. The largest portion of that amount goes to Samsung, which should receive the largest portion; Huawei and then Sony closely follow them.  The remaining amounts would no doubt be sliced up between the other manufacturers. HTC is apparently not on the list, although it may go home with some money?  However, Microsoft has said that these figures are completely erroneous.

As a reminder, at the time Nokia announced support for Windows Phone, it apparently received approximately $1 billion from Microsoft. And allegedly, now other handset makers would like a similar deal.

What do you think? Are Microsoft’s statements about co-marketing with partners just an excuse for bribery? Or shall we say monopolisation tactics? Or is there a genuine reason behind the original figures put forward by Mobile-Review’s Eldar Murtazin?  As always your sensible comments are always welcome.
Read More

Tizen: The operating system that could thwart Android?

The name 'Tizen' has been bandied about in mobile tech circles for some time now but for anyone other than the most ardent follower of mobile matters, the odd-sounding moniker mightn't mean all that much.
For those who are still unsure what exactly Tizen is, what it might mean to the general tech consumer, and wondering whether it'll prove a viable competitor to Google's Android, we've taken a closer look at this next gen-operating system...


Doing the robot

Since 2007, Google's Android mobile platform has gone from strength to strength, its inextricable rise to prominence mirroring that of the smartphones it powers.
In six short years, Android devices have become pre-eminent in the smartphone space thanks mainly to the continual innovation and powerful marketing strategies of Samsung- something that has seen the Korean firm's output dominating worldwide sales and establishing Google's OS as the mobile platform of choice for OEMs, developers and consumers alike.
Whether Android's seemingly unshakable position would have resulted without Samsung's backing, or Samsung's dominance of worldwide smartphone sales would have happened without Android in tow, is a debate that still rolls on.

Read More

Rumour: 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch iPhone 6 handsets coming as soon as June

What's up there, short stack?

Despite the success of handsets 5-inches and larger, you felt it was with a certain amount of reluctance that Apple bumped up the iPhone from 3.5-inches to a dinky 4-inches with the iPhone 5.

Now, according to reports emerging from China, the company is tossing out its display size inhibitions and plans to launch two much larger iPhone 6 handsets later this year.

Chinese tech analyst (yes, we know and are sufficiently sceptical) Sun Changxu told the website the smaller model will be 4.7-inches, with a 1136 x 640 resolution and will be unveiled at WWDC in June.

If you thought an extra seven-tenths of an inch was a big deal, Changxu reckons the larger of the two will arrive later rocking a massive 5.7-inch higher resolution display, giving Apple a change to make a play in the phablet arena.
Break from the norm

A staggered release for two different screen size would be a definite break from the norm, as would a smartphone launch at WWDC, where Apple has traditionally focused on software.

Of course, this is just one of a number of rumours circulating at the moment regarding the iPhone 6. As these analysts sure do like to make a name for themselves with their brazen predictions and claims of inside knowledge, so we're taking this prediction with the necessary sprinkling of salt.

Most of the rumours claim larger screens are on the way, but since September we've heard everything from 4.7- to 6-inches, so don't set your heart on that 5.7-inch screen just yet.

Other recent tips have suggested a tougher liquidmetal display or a wraparound flexible screen, while the camera may focus on image stability rather than another megapixel bump.
Read More

Microsoft Backtracks: XP Anti-Malware Support To Continue

I guess we can say that Microsoft does monitor the pulse of its community of users. While the pressure to continue support for Windows XP has not really yielded any practical results, it seems that the noise surrounding the “death” of Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP has prompted Microsoft think twice. Not long after the official announcement, Microsoft backtracked, saying the XP anti-malware support is going to continue in spite of the end-of-life date having been determined for the popular operating system.

This is certainly reason for Windows XP users to rejoice, but we cannot deny that the end-of-life date for XP is not going to disappear into thin air. That stands, and the XP anti-malware support is also on its deathbed.

For now, XP users have to be satisfied with the fact that Microsoft will continue to release signatures that will protect computers running on XP from malware. Until July 2015, that is.

These signatures covers Microsoft Security Essentials, among other things.

Again, this is but a respite for Windows XP users. Support for the widespread operating system will still end on April 8 of this year. Additionally, existing Windows XP users will NOT be able to download Microsoft Security Essentials after the said date. As such, if you do not have any plans of ditching Windows XP any time soon, you ought to make sure you have Microsoft Security Essentials downloaded before April 8. After that, you will continue to receive the updated signatures, keeping you at least safe from malware, which we know seem to favor Windows.

Another piece of positive, related news: third party anti-malware software will continue to be supported, and they will have updates on XP for the next year. Just how long that will last, we don’t really know.

So, dear Microsoft XP loyalists, your week is off to a (somehow) good start!
Read More

Spammers buy Chrome extensions and turn them into adware

Two developers who sold their popular Chrome extensions saw them misused for aggressive advertising

Changes in Google Chrome extension ownership can expose thousands of users to aggressive advertising and possibly other threats, two extension developers have recently discovered.

At least two Chrome extensions recently sold by their original developers were updated to inject ads and affiliate links into legitimate websites opened in users' browsers.

The issue first came to light last week when the developer of the "Add to Feedly" extension, a technology blogger named Amit Agarwal, reported that after selling his extension late last year to a third-party, it got transformed into adware. The extension had over 30,000 users when it was sold.

A second developer, Roman Skabichevsky, confirmed Monday that his Chrome extension called "Tweet This Page" suffered a similar fate after he sold it at the end of November.

Skabichevsky accepted an offer to sell the simple extension for $500 because he didn't have time to improve it anymore.
Read More

Robots Get Their Own Cloud-Based Internet

A group of research scientists from Philips and several European universities have developed a world wide web for robots, allowing them to share information and learn from one another. Funded by the European Union, this four year project will be tested at the university in Eindhoven in a hospital-like setting.

The system, named RoboEarth, will be used by four robots to carry out a set of tasks, like serving drinks to patients.

Robot Serves Drink To Hospital Patient In Demonstration For RoboEarth

Project leader for RoboEarth, Rene van de Molengraft, said: “At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other.”

The whole point of the system is to provide robots (and humans) with a cloud-based database, on to which information can be loaded and then it can act like a common brain for machines.

Read More

Is 2014 the Year of the 'Big Data Stack'?

Will 2014 see the emergence of a big data equivalent of the LAMP stack?

Richard Daley, one of the founders and chief strategy officer of analytics and business intelligence specialist Pentaho, believes that such a stack will begin to come together this year as consensus begins to develop around certain big data reference architectures--though the upper layers of the stack may have more proprietary elements than LAMP does.

"The explosion of dynamic, interactive websites in the late 1990s and early 2000s was driven, at least in part, by the LAMP stack, consisting of Linux, Apache HTTP server, MySQL and PHP (or Perl or Python)."
"There's thousands of big data reference architectures out there," Daley says. "This is going to be more of a 'history repeats itself' kind of thing. We saw the exact same thing happen back with the LAMP stack. It's driven by pain. Pain is what's going to drive it initially; pain in the form of cost and scale."
But, Daley says, organisations dealing with that pain with big data technologies--42 percent of organisations were already engaged in some form of big data initiative in 2013, according to a CompTIA study--quickly begin to see the upside of that data, particularly organisations that leverage it for marketing or for network intrusion detection.

"In the last 12 months, we've seen more and more people doing big data for gain," he says. "There is much more to gain from analysing and utilising this big data than just storing it."
The explosion of dynamic, interactive websites in the late 1990s and early 2000s was driven, at least in part, by the LAMP stack, consisting of Linux, Apache HTTP server, MySQL and PHP (or Perl or Python). These free and open source components are all individually powerful tools developed independently, but come together like Voltron to form a Web development platform that is more powerful than the sum of its parts. The components are readily available and have open licenses with relatively few restrictions. Perhaps most important, the source is available, giving developers a tremendous amount of flexibility.
While the LAMP stack specifies the individual components (though substitutions at certain layers aren't uncommon), the big data stack Daley envisions has a lot more options at each layer, depending on the application you have in mind.

'D' Is for the Data Layer
The bottom layer of the stack, the foundation, is the data layer. This is the layer for the Hadoop distributions, NoSQL databases (HBase, MongoDB, CouchDB and many others), even relational databases and analytical databases like SAS, Greenplum, Teradata and Vertica.
"Any of those technologies can be used for big data applications," Daley says. "Hadoop and NoSQL are open, more scalable and more cost-effective, but they can't do everything. That's where guys like Greenplum and Vertica have a play for doing some very fast, speed-of-thought analytical applications."
In many ways, this layer of the stack has the most work ahead of it, Daley says. Relational and analytical databases have years of development behind them, but Hadoop and NoSQL technologies are in relatively early days yet.
"Hadoop and NoSQL, I have to say we are early," Daley says. ""We're over the chasm in terms of adoption--we're beyond the early adopters. But there's still a lot that needs to be done in terms of management, services and operational capabilities for both of those environments. Hadoop is a very, very complicated bit of technology and still rough around the edges. If you look at the NoSQL environment, it's kind of a mess. Every single NoSQL engine has its own query language."

'I' Is for the Integration Layer
The next layer up is the integration layer. This is where data prep, data cleansing, data transformation and data integration happens.
"Very seldom do we only pull data from one source," Daley says. "If we're looking at a customer-360 app, we're pulling data from three, four or even five sources. When somebody has to do an analytical app or even a predictive app, 70 percent of the time is spent in this layer, mashing the data around."
While this layer is the "non-glamorous" part of big data, it's also an area that's relatively mature, Daley says, with lots of utilities (like Sqoop and Flume) and vendors out there filling the gaps.

'A' Is for the Analytics Layer
The next layer up is the analytics layer, where analytics and visualisation happen.
"Now I've got the data. I've got it stored and ready to be looked at," Daley says. "I take a Tableau or Pentaho or Qlikview and visualise that data. Do I have patterns? This is where people--business users--can start to get some value out of it. This is also where I would include search. It's not just slice-and-dice or dashboards.
This area too is relatively mature, though Daley acknowledges there's a way to go yet.
"We've got to figure out as an industry how to squeeze more juice out of Hadoop--methods to get data faster," he says. "Maybe we acknowledge that it's a batch environment and we need to put certain data in other data sources? Vendors are working around the clock to make those integrations better and better."

'P' Is for the Predictive/Prescriptive Analytics
The top layer of the stack is predictive/prescriptive analytics, Daley says. This is where organisations start to truly recognise the value of big data. Predictive analytics uses data (historical data, external data and real-time data), business rules and machine learning to make predictions and identify risks and opportunities.
One step further along is prescriptive analytics, sometimes considered the holy grail of business analytics, which takes those predictions and offers suggestions for ways to take advantage of future opportunities or mitigate future risks, along with the implications of the various options.
"You have to go through and do predictive to get value out of big data," he says. "It's a low likelihood that you're going to get a lot of value out of just slicing and dicing data. You've got to go all the way up the stack."
"At least 70, maybe even 80 percent of what we see around big data applications is now predictive or even prescriptive analytics," Daley adds. "That's necessity, they mother of invention. It starts at the bottom with data technology--storage, data manipulation, transformations, basic analytics. But what's happening more and more, finally, is predictive, advanced analytics is coming of age. It's becoming more and more mainstream."
While predictive analytics are somewhat mature, it's currently an area only data scientists are equipped to handle.
"I think predictive is a lot farther along than the bottom layer of the stack," Daley says. "From a technology standpoint, I think it's mature. But we need to figure out how to get it into the hands of a lot more users. We need to build it into apps that business users can access versus just data scientists."

What's That Spell? DIAP? PAID?
Call it the DIAP stack. Or maybe start from the top and call it the PAID stack. The trick now, Daley says, is not just adding more maturity to component technologies like Hadoop and NoSQL, it's providing integration up and down the stack.
"That's a very key point," he says. "To date, all these things are separate. A lot of companies only do one of these things. Hortonworks will only do the data side, they won't do integration, for example. But customers like to go through and buy an integrated stack. We should at least make sure that our products up and down those stacks are truly integrated. That's where it's going to have to get to. In order to really get adopted, products and vendors are going to need to work up and down that stack. I need to support every flavor of Hadoop--at least the commercially favorable ones. And it's the same thing for NoSQL."
Read More

Microsoft will furnish malware assassin to XP users until mid-2015

Microsoft confirmed on Friday that it will continue to offer its malware scrubbing program to Windows XP users for more than a year after it stops patching the operating system.

"Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool is aligned with the company's anti-malware engines and signatures, and as such the removal tool will continue to be provided for Windows XP through July 14, 2015," a company spokesperson wrote in an email reply to questions.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) is updated monthly as Microsoft targets specific major malware families it believes are the biggest threats at the time. It's distributed through Microsoft's Windows Update service and the business-grade Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) on "Patch Tuesday," the date each month when the company ships security patches and other fixes to customers. The MSRT automatically installs and then runs in a seek-and-destroy mission.

Users can also manually download the MSRT from Microsoft's website.
MSRT is not an antivirus program, but rather a cleanup utility designed to eradicate malware that has already wormed onto a Windows PC. The tool was first released in 2005.
The extension of MSRT's availability for Windows XP was part of Microsoft's decision last Wednesday to offer new anti-malware signatures to XP customers who run the company's free Security Essentials antivirus (AV) software.
Originally, Microsoft had said it would stop shipping Security Essentials' signature updates to XP PCs after April 8. But in a tacit nod to XP's widespread use, Microsoft postponed the cut-off until July 14, 2015.

Read More

McAfee Security Report Suggests 2014 Will Be a Rough Year

Smartphones, social networks, PCs, servers, cloud services, governments and national infrastructure all face security risks in 2014, according to the latest McAfee security report. On, and virtual currencies are being used to fund serious crimes. So, who wants a new career?
McAfee's comprehensive 2014 security report, released at the end of December, goes beyond rehashing the same set of threats in ever-increasing volume to instead reflect the impact of digital currencies, NSA leaks and social media. Going through the report, one thing becomes eminently clear: We are in no way prepared for what's coming in 2014.

I'll cover the report's main elements, but I suggest you read it thoroughly yourself - perhaps after a couple glasses of good brandy.

Expect a Mobile Malware Tsunami

At a McAfee event in 2012, I watched then-CTO Mike Fey demonstrate how to take over an iPhone or Android phone. He actually caused the Android phone to self-destruct by overclocking it to fail remotely.

[Analysis: Tablets, Mobile Malware Heighten BYOD Security Concerns]

This was unprecedented. Since then, mobile devices have become even bigger targets. While security has increased from source vendors, it hasn't kept up and, in fact, is falling further and further behind, according to McAfee. The report concludes that attacks will increase sharply in 2014 - particularly those designed to expropriate data without being detected. Such attacks grew a whopping 33 percent in 2013, while PC attacks were flat, showing that malware creators have largely shifted to more-vulnerable mobile operating systems.

Virtual Currencies Will Fuel New Crimes

While the section of the report on virtual currencies focuses on ransomware, there are broader implications to this trend. Virtual currencies are believed to be untraceable - which in theory makes them ideal for funding criminal activities, including blackmail, kidnapping and even assassinations - (though that was recently proven untrue).

According to McAfee's report, we can expect an increase in ransomware, which disables PCs and servers and can be removed only by paying a ransom. The same is true for similar crimes that McAfee doesn't track. Crimes that require a payoff currency source that can't be traced will rise. If you use a digital currency, it may only be a matter of time before law enforcement simply assumes that you're a crook.

Attackers Include U.S. Government, Organized Crime

While the report doesn't focus specifically on the NSA disclosures, it does indicate that governments, including our own, are doing incredibly invasive things that are virtually impossible to detect. Some attacks compromise legitimate applications, making them behave like malware; others go well beyond PCs and smartphones, with targets such as industrial control systems or other systems tied to keeping national infrastructure operating. Both private and public systems are in their crosshairs.

Social Networks, PCs, Servers Increasingly Vulnerable

Social attacks will increase sharply, largely focusing on getting answers to security questions, capturing passwords or committing identity theft. This information will be used to create virtual or real-world crimes against individuals, companies and even governments. Companies, too, are expected to increasingly use this tactic to penetrate competitors to learn about new products, steal ideas, poach employees and otherwise gain strategic and tactical advantages.

[IBM Report: Social Media, Mobile Phones Top Attack Targets][Tips: How to Spot a Social Media Scam]

Even though, as noted, the volume of attacks on PCs has remained flat, McAfee nonetheless suggests they are becoming far more powerful, with attacks both above and below the operating system. HTML5 is becoming the preferred attack vehicle, as it lets hackers move among platforms and provides an unparalleled opportunity to gain system and information access. These attacks can drift beyond PCs and into mobile systems, below the OS, into storage systems, and even compromise the BIOS - becoming virtually undetectable in the process.

Analytics May Be Only Sustaining Defense - Cloud Providers Won't Help

McAfee suggests that the only sustaining defense will be comprehensive analytics able to detect the penetration before it compromises systems and determine, from company-wide system behavior, that a compromise has occurred by looking across the corporation. The old security solutions simply aren't up to the task, however, and the report says a much more computational, comprehensive approach will be necessary to get ahead of these threats.

[Analysis: Ignore Cloud Security Assessment at Your Own Risk][Report: How Top CIOs Tackle Big Data, Analytics and Cloud Security]

While companies may wish to pass the task of worrying about these threats to cloud-based services, these services will become even more attractive targets thanks to rich customer bases and a wealth of content from those customers. Attackers will increasingly focus on breaching hypervisors to gain access to multiple companies at once and achieve criminal rewards that would make a James Bond villain proud. Because many providers lack the leverage to provide security measures in line with corporate needs, the exposures could be catastrophic at a national level.

So ... Who Wants a New Career?

After reading the McAfee report, that's what occurred to me. We're clearly unprepared for the kinds of attacks that are coming. The folks we typically look to help protect us are also penetrating our systems and aren't particularly secure themselves. The one thing that's clear: You sure don't want to do anything to make this worse. That suggests going easy with cloud services or other vendors that don't understand your security needs.

As an IT leader, you may want to suggest that security become a higher priority - not just from survey perspective, but from a funding perspective as well. Not only could your firm be the next Target, the next attack could make the Target attack look trivial by comparison.

Suddenly a job teaching doesn't look so bad. Happy New Year? Yeah, right.
Read More

Why Google Paid $3.2 Billion for Thermostat Startup Nest

Google is moving into your home. On Monday, the Internet company said it was acquiring Nest, a maker of smart smoke alarms and thermostats, in a move that gives Google a strong foothold in a hot new market known as the "connected home."

The idea behind the connected home is to connect heating systems, lighting systems and appliances such as refrigerators to the Internet so that they can be made more efficient and controlled from afar. In the process, companies can collect more data about people's habits, something Google loves.

Nest's price tag shows Google means business: US$3.2 billion cash. If the deal goes through -- which Google expects in the next few months -- it will be one of its largest acquisitions since the Internet giant bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.6 billion. Google has been interested in Nest since at least 2011, when it led a round of funding in the company, followed by another in 2012.
Read More

Windows 9 in 2015: Desperation Isn't Pretty

Yes, Windows 8's been a failure. It's been worse than Vista. But is the solution really to push out a new operating system in double-quick time?

Seriously, Microsoft? You want to get Windows 9 -- Windows freakin' 9 -- out in 2015?

I get that you want to distance yourself from the Windows 8.x train wreck. Who wouldn't? But by upgrading Windows on a consumer pace, aren't you taking a big chance that your enterprise customers will turn their backs on you? I mean, companies want desktop operating systems they can rely on for three to five years, not three to five seasons.

Let's start with some fundamentals. As Paul Thurrott, senior technical analyst for Windows IT Pro and the boss of Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, put it, " Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public." According to Thurrott, the free upgrade Windows 8.1, which offers major improvements over Windows 8, is installed on fewer than 25 million PCs. "That's a disaster," he wrote. Windows 9 (as it's expected to be designated; Threshold is the code name for now) "will need to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users" and enticing users to a Windows experience on new types of personal computing devices. "In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not."
Read More

Fashion faux pas? Intel smartwatch used ARM processor at CES

Intel may have committed a CES 2014 fashion faux pas when it unveiled wearable technology prototypes that included rival ARM-based processors.

Some of the company's reference designs were indeed powered by third-party parts, including its smartwatch concept, Intel spokesperson Bill Calder told TechRadar.

Calder characterized the mixed-and-matched components as not a big deal since Intel has an ARM license and the smartwatch isn't an announced product. It's simply a prototype.

He also denied previous reports that Jarvis, the company's unique voice-controlled Bluetooth headset, was being powered with ARM components at the convention.

But the problem with demoing any wearable with a non-Intel processor remains. Edison, Intel's Quark-based chip, was concurrently being touted as an SD-card-sized solution for wearables.

Unbeknownst to the CES audience, it's just not for all wearables seen on that same stage.
Bay Trail turning to Android

At least it's all "Intel Inside" when it comes to Bay Trail Android tablets that the company said are due out in the second quarter of this year.

Intel's Atom-based processor is already up-and-running in a number of Windows-based slates, but the Bay Trail chips powering the newer Google devices will be 64-bit, not 32-bit.

Intel and other chip manufacturers have been in a race to catch up to Apple, which debuted the first mobile 64-bit processor in its iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini 2 with Retina display.

Of course, like Apple's new hardware, Android users will have to wait for developers to start taking advantage of the superior Bay Trail specs before they really see a difference in performance.
Read More

Super Secure Blackphone Announced

Over the last few years the news and subsequent scandal regarding our private phone conversations and how they weren’t as private as we thought, has defined the way we view our security. To assist us in this ever changing battle, a new smart phone company is planning to launch a security conscious, privacy orientated device for all of the super security conscious people out there.

The company is called Blackphone, and it’s a joint venture between privacy specialists Silent Circle and the team which brought us the first Firefox OS hardware; Geeksphone.

The device is currently known as the Blackphone and it will run a specialised version of Android OS called PrivatOS. With this device and PrivatOS, you’ll be able to make and receive secure calls, send and receive secure messages and hold video chats without fear of anyone observing what you’re doing. You can even transfer files to and from the device. Another potential feature that is being discussed is an anonymous VPN for private browsing.

The handset is GSM and will be sold unlocked, but unlike Geeksphone’s existing hardware currently available, the high-end device will be, “Among the top performers from any manufacturer.” We should all expect all the usual Android tools, including Google Play, to be installed along with a modified selection of tools to ensure our online and network activity remains private.

The Blackphone team has an extraordinary history when it comes to privacy. Phil Zimmerman and Jon Callas, the founder and co-founder of PGP are onboard, along with Mike Janke from Silent Circle. Silent Circle’s existing app should give us a good idea of how the Blackphone will work. Secure calls are made with VoIP using a username and a 10-digit pin code so only the two parties have access to the stream.

Messages are encrypted on the phone using a once-only key, which can be applied to data transfers up to 100MB in size as well. A Snapchat-style auto delete option is also included, which will see any message, video, picture, or voice recording self destruct after a preset time period. Also, there will be the option to recall accidentally sent messages.

The Blackphone will make its official debut at the start of Mobile World Congress, held on 24 February.  This is when pre-orders for the device are also likely to start. Actual Specifications have yet to surface, so stay tuned.
Read More

Native Union Create JUMP: It Charges Your Smartphone & Itself

Native Union wants to make all our lives a bit easier when it comes to keeping our devices charged. It has come up with a smart, pocket-sized charging cable and portable battery, which it has named JUMP.

Hidden inside the 50mm x 50mm x 13.6mm case, is an 800mAh battery. To put that in to perspective, that’s around a third of the power found in an iPhone 5S. So although this little charger won’t resurrect your completely dead battery to 100 percent charge, it will be a big help in keeping your smartphone or tablet out of the red. It is available with either a Lightening Connector or MicroUSB.

What really makes JUMP special is its ability to charge its own internal battery, once its finished charging your device.Whether you are charging from your laptop or the wall socket, JUMP will recognise when the battery is full and begin charging itself automatically. That means it should always be 100 percent charged, ready for use out in the field.

Native Union has successfully reached its Kickstarter target and did so in just over 24 hours. You can still order JUMP by pledging $40 before the campaign ends on February 13. You can expect to receive it by May.
Read More

Facebook Buys Branch & Potluck

Social media giant, Facebook has just added 10 new talented people to its human resource pool, thanks to the acquisition of Branch and Potluck for a reported price of $15 million.
Cemre Güngör and Josh Miller founded the social platform Branch, back in 2012 with backing from Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Ev Williams. They later launched Potluck, a web and mobile app “designed for friends to hang out and talk about cool things they find online”

The Verge has recently reported that Facebook bought the company behind both these products for $15 million. The firms will now become a part of the social media platform. Specifically, a team of 10 people from the company will form Facebook’s new Conversations group located in New York City.
The buyout was conformed by Miller via a Facebook post: “After two years building Branch and Potluck, I am thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our mission at Facebook! We will be forming Facebook’s Conversations group, based in New York City, with the goal of helping people connect with others around their interests.”
Facebook, does have a history of buying up smaller companies, asked Miller to build Branch at “Facebook scale”, though both Branch and Potluck will continue to “live on” outside of the Facebook sphere.
Nearly all of Facebook’s recent acquisitions tend to be for the human resource talent and the acquired products, which they were working on, are subsequently shut down. Instagram is a notable exception to this rule however. It’s also the largest acquisition that Facebook Is has ever made, costing them $1 billion 2 years ago, in 2012.
Is Facebook becoming too big for its boots? What do you think?  As always your sensiblr commments are welcome.
Read More

Microsoft Accounts Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army

Microsoft’s authorised blog and some of its Twitter accounts were hacked over the weekend.  Microsoft‘s blog and a couple of its Twitter accounts were breached by a group called the Syrian Electronic Army this past weekend.  This hacking came after the New Year’s hack of Microsoft’s Skype blogging site as well as its social accounts.

Microsoft News and Xbox Support on Twitter, were also breached which replicated The Syrian Electronic Army’s previous escapades with other companies.  The posts made by the Syrian Electronic Army on Twitter have since been eliminated on the social platform; however, GameSpot is still reporting that Xbox Support tweets are including comments like “Game On!” and “Syrian Electronic Army Was Here”.  There is also a screenshot showing access to Instagram on Xbox as well as Twitter accounts.

Tweets found on the Microsoft News account were a little more serious, making comments about Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox stating, “Don’t use Microsoft emails(hotmail,outlook),They [sic] are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments.”
Until now, it seems that Microsoft has not stated how the hacking has taken place — neither these ones nor the previous Skype ones– but other victims in the past, of the Syrian Electronic Army, have issued notices stating that the SEA apparently use  low-level methods involving fake links and gaining users’ trust through the use of the company’s name until users reveal information about their log-in details.
The Syrian Electronic Army used similar comments in their tweets during the Skype hacking. In some cases, tweets were simply recycled but  in neither case, was user data ever compromised. A Skype spokesperson at the time of the first incident replied: “We recently became aware of a targeted cyber attack that led to access to Skype’s social media properties, but these credentials were quickly reset. No user information was compromised.”
Read More

Is Sony Releasing A Windows Phone?

After all the rumours about Sony launching a Windows Phone this year, the company itself has confirmed that it has been, and still is, in talks with Microsoft.
Sony’s European mobile chief, Pierre Perron, said last week in an interview that the company does not want to be a “single OS manufacturer” because it’s just not a viable position to be in long-term. “[Working with Microsoft] is an interesting proposition for us in the PC environment, and we continue our engagement with them,” he said. “We are exploring this as part of our discussion in mobile space too. One thing is using the platform [Windows Phone] itself, and another is ‘what can we deliver on top of it’?”

Perron also revealed that Sony worked with Microsoft back in 2012 and with all the image leaks of prototype Sony Windows Phones, it definitely looks as though Sony has been playing around with the Microsoft phone software.
The Windows Phone 8.1 update is expected in April, so it is likely that any associated hardware will be ready to receive the new software.
Currently it is Nokia that everyone associates with Windows Phone, so it is no wonder that Microsoft wants to bring in other phone vendors to the platform. As an extra incentive for new partners, Microsoft is considering lowering the licensing fees for Windows Phone, so maybe that will be the final clincher for Sony and we’ll see it provide handsets that run on the Windows Phone operating system.
Read More

CubeSensors: Fitness Trackers For The Home

Fitness trackers are all the rage, a result of the juxtaposition of the renewed interest in healthy living and the continuing attraction to gadgets. From FitBit to the Nike Fuel Band (and a bunch of other brands in between), gadget lovers who want to keep track of their fitness and related activities have a wide range of choices. But what good is jogging, running, or cycling if your home is in an unhealthy state?

That’s what CubeSensors is all about.

This piece of hardware caught the attention of CES goers – it even won TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield. The premise can be summed up in a single statement: “Understand how your home or office is affecting your health, comfort and productivity.”
Read More