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Canadian man uses a digital copy of his passport on his iPad to get through US customs

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 9:29 am

Montreal resident Martin Reisch was travelling to the U.S. to drop off some Christmas presents when he realised he forgot his passport. Being two hours from home already, he wasn't about to turn back.




As he approached U.S. customs, he thought he'd attempt to use a digital copy of his passport that he had on his iPad to get through customs. The border official was a bit annoyed, but let him through. A Canadian official also let him through on his way back home.


Reisch wasn't travelling by plane, but was making a land crossing which could be the difference between using the iPad copy at an airport and not being allowed to travel. This may not work again, or for anyone else, but it goes to show a digital copy of your identification can definitely help, at the worst of times.

Gigabyte X79 issue was not a hardware fault, but a BIOS issue

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Motherboards | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 8:44 am

Last week I reported on some news that three Gigabyte motherboards, X79-UD3, X79-UD5 and G1.Assassin 2 had issues with build quality and a bad BIOS. I've received official word from Gigabyte that it was not a board-related, or build-related problem, but a BIOS-related issue.




I used a specific quote "Gigabyte has said the issue stems from a combination of poor quality PWM components and bad firmware." I should've fact checked before posting, and done some background work before making a statement like that and trusting a single source. For this, I apologise on behalf of TweakTown.


The problems does not stem from the board, but from a BIOS issue and Gigabyte have released a new bios: F7, which fixes the issue. If you have one of the boards and would like to update its BIOS, visit this page.

Google force Android 4.0 "Holo" theme mandatory on all devices with Android Market

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 8:28 am

From now on, any Android 4.0-powered device that comes baked in with Android Market, will sport the "Holo" theme. In an effort to provide all users with a consistent interface, Google is making the move.




Holo does look impressive, and is one of the best UI's I've ever seen (in videos, pictures) and I can't wait to slap it onto my Samsung Galaxy S II. However, manufacturer customizations aren't disappearing. Users of Sense, TouchWiz, etc should still all be A-OK. Google are issuing architectural mandates that will make it quite simple for independent developers to create apps that slide perfectly into the customized environments, complete w ith the proper widgets, and colors.


From now on, app designers can choose between Android 4.0's Holo theme, or the manufacturers default theme when considering the software's interface. I like the decision from Google, as it brings them more in line with Apple and their one-and-only theme (unless jailbroken).

HP teases Spectre ultrabook in a new video

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Laptops | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 7:27 am

A HP employee has sent The Verge a new video showing off a new ultra-think notebook from HP. The video has dramatic music that really, er, sets the mood for the launch of a new MacBook Air competitor.



Is it thinner than the MBA or the upcoming ultrabooks? There's nothing more than a 30-second tease, and then "Spectre" at the end. One thing is for certain, is if HP are showing off (well, at least have a video that an employee can "leak") then the Spectre must be close to release.


CES is next week, so we might actually see some Spectre action in Las Vegas. The Verge reports that it may be the 14-inch HP Envy 14 Spectre, which showed up at the FCC just two weeks ago. Only time will tell, and when that time comes, HP will either hit or miss.

Continue reading 'HP teases Spectre ultrabook in a new video' (full post)

RumorTT: iPad pricing could get as low as $299, with the next-gen iPad sold at $399

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 6:26 am

Wishful thinking, we all use it to dream a wonderful dream, but could this turn into reality? DigiTimes reports that we could see $299 iPads, and the next-generation iPad that sports the new 2048x1536 resolution could start at just $399, $100 cheaper than what the iPad 2 costs today.




DigiTimes quote "sources from Apple's supply chain" (one day I need to meet all these sources in the supply chains) who talk about two third-generation iPads: the high-end 2048x1536-sporting iPad and another with same resolution as the iPad 2, 1024x768. DigiTimes state that if the iPad 2 is to stay on sale, Apple will need to change its pricing strategy.


We could see $299 for the iPad 2, and two price steps for the next-gen iPad at something like $349, $399. I think we'll see something like $399 for the iPad 2S (bits from the iPad 3, but screen res of the iPad 2) with a $499 iPad 3 sporting the super high-res.

Ice Cream Sandwich hits ASUS Transformer Prime on January 12

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 5:29 am

ASUS released their Tegra 3-packing Eee Pad Transformer Prime before Christmas last year and they are pretty quick out of the gates in 2012 to deliver Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich on January 12.




ASUS also released an update yesterday which improves focus issues with the Prime's camera and provides better touchscreen response and GPS performance. ASUS used Facebook to announce the update, and to thank customers for their ongoing support and address some of the growing issues that the Transformer Prime is experiencing.


The first issue ASUS address is the GPS problem, claiming the issue stems from the metallic unibody design meaning that the material may affect the performance of the GPS when receiving signals from satellites. ASUS reminds users that the Transformer Prime isn't a professional-grade GPS device and that signal strength can be influenced by a number of additional factors.


In order to avoid any further "confusion", ASUS have decided to remove the GPS function from their specification sheet and marketing materials for Transformer Prime.

Microsoft's latest patent, walking directions that avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: GPS & Location | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 4:26 am

Microsoft have issued a patent, which is actually quite interesting. It's dubbed "pedestrian route production", which is known to us simple folk as walking directions, and it will automatically adjust the route for the unique conditions encountered by a person going from place to place on foot.




One of its unique features would help pedestrians navigate around, and not through, "unsafe neighborhoods", with the system taking into account violent crime data. The patent states that the system could "construct a direction set that allows the user to take paths that take him to his home in a quickest amount of time while keeping the user relatively safe (e.g., taking the user through neighborhoods with violent crime statistics below a certain threshold)."


The system would also be capable of taking into account user tolerance for unsafe neighborhoods based on past behavior, such as whether the person has "historically cared about safe neighborhoods."

Continue reading 'Microsoft's latest patent, walking directions that avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods' (full post)

Nokia Lumia 710 unboxing, an entry-level value-priced Windows Phone

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 3:24 am

Nokia's entry-level value-priced Windows Phone is currently rolling out across the world: Lumia 710. It has virtually the same insides as the Lumia 800, sporting a 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 (WCDMA) processor, 512MB RAM, a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 3.7-inch CBD LCD display and weighs in at 126 grams.



The task the Lumia 710 has is to allow greater penetration of the Windows Phone platform into the middle segment of the market. And since it shares hardware with the Nokia Lumia 800, it can be considered a second-generation Windows Phone, from the best value for money.




Because the Lumia 710 uses a plastic design, it cuts off some of the weight the usual premium handsets have, but with no consequences to build quality. It also features swappable back covers, in case you want to change things up, old-school Nokia style. You could have black or white Lumia 710 with back colors ranging from blue, pink, yellow and others.

Continue reading 'Nokia Lumia 710 unboxing, an entry-level value-priced Windows Phone ' (full post)

Angry Birds were flung into 6.5 million stockings on Christmas Day

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 2:18 am

There were millions of smartphone activations from people who got iOS or Android-based devices over Christmas, but we have a very interesting number for Angry Birds fans. Rovio saw an amazing 6.5 million downloads on Christmas Day for its Angry Birds franchise of games.




This is nearly the number of total smartphone activations estimated to happen over Christmas, which makes it even more impressive. Rovio's Ville Heijari told AllThingsD:


We're really excited to have such a massive number of new people get acquainted with Angry Birds over the holidays - we have exciting new releases lined up for 2012, and can't wait to introduce them to the public.


The 6.5 million total is a combination of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio, and also includes a mix of paid and free downloads. Christmas 2010 saw just two million downloads spread across iOS and Android.

Tuesday Evening Roundup for January 3, 2012

By: Steve Dougherty | More News: Roundups | Posted: Jan 4, 2012 1:56 am

The latest happenings from around the web - January 3rd, 2012




- Toshiba Portege Z835-P330 Ultrabook @ Hot Hardware

- The Best Ultraportable Laptop @ Gizmodo




- Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z Z68 Motherboard @ eTeknix

- MSI Big Bang XPower 2 X79 Motherboard @ Hardware Heaven




- Cooler Master Cosmos II Ultra Tower Case @ Hardware Canucks

- Cooler Master Cosmos II @ Neoseeker

Continue reading 'Tuesday Evening Roundup for January 3, 2012' (full post)

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