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UPDATE: Snowden has been granted asylum and has left Moscow airport

By: Charles Gantt | More News: BREAKING STORY | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 2:19 pm

New sources are stating that Edward Snowden has been granted temporary Asylum in Russia for the period of one year. Just a few minutes ago, Snowden's lawyer and the Russian Federal Migration service confirmed that the NSA Whistleblower's request has been approved and that he has left the airport.

 

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Having this request granted means that Snowden can not be handed over to the US by force, but he could be transported there only if he agrees to go voluntarily and by his own free will. Reports say that he departed the airport around 11:30 GMT, which was actually about 30 minutes before his refugee status was official.

 

"He is the most wanted person on earth and his security will be a priority," the attorney explained. "He will deal with personal security issues and lodging himself. I will just consult him as his lawyer, I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone," he added.

Snowden still stuck in Moscow airport after more than a month

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Current Affairs | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 2:03 pm

Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who blew the whistle on PRISM, has been sitting in a isolated room at the Moscow Airport since June 23 and has not been allowed to leave or fly to another country. Today, he met with his lawyer in hopes of seeing his temporary request for asylum granted.

 

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Today around 2:18 BST, Snowden met with his Russian Lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, and shortly there after, the lawyer addressed the press saying that Snowden would be staying in the airport's transit zone for now. He said that the immigration officials are still looking at the request for asylum and are drawing the process out. Snowden withdrew the permanent request and filled a temporary one which would allow him up to one year, but comments from Kucherena seem to sound like Snowden might stay in Russia permanently.

 

He is not planning to leave for now. He asked for temporary asylum, which in the case of a positive decision, is granted for a term of one year. Currently his final country of destination is Russia.

 

He's planning to arrange his life here [Russia]. He [Snowden] plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in.

New BlackBerry BB10 update said to be deleting text messages randomly

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 3:50 am

Reports are coming in that a new over-the-air update to BlackBerry's BB10 OS includes a major bug that is randomly deleting SMS messages on some devices. The update is meant to improve operational functionality of BB10 devices such as the Z10 and Q10, but no one expected it to begin deleting text messages at random.

 

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Some reports are coming in that says the update has even blocked SMS messaging entirely on their device. The issue appears to be widespread, but the bug appears to affect each device differently. Some users just experience the message deletion, while some only delete random messages from a message chain, while still other devices are seeing the messaging blocked entirely. BlackBerry has yet to confirm the issue, and we would recommend that you do not install the update until a fix has been released.

Canon enables the selfie video with the new Vixia mini

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Cameras | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 2:05 am

Too many times has a video been uploaded to YouTube of a person talking into their smartphone with it in portrait orientation, and way too many selfie videos have been ruined by a propped up smartphone falling to the floor. Canon noticed these issues and decided to take a stand and help bring forth a new era of selfie video production to the world. This morning, the camera making giant announced a new video camera dubbed the Vixia mini.

 

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The Vixia mini features an f/2.8 fisheye lens which offers excellent low-light wide-angle coverage out of the box. This equates to a 160-degree field of view for video, but it can also capture still images at up to 170 degrees, which is said to be close to the 35mm format. The Vixia's 12.8-megapixel CMOS sensor is backed up by Canon's Digic DV4 image processor for lightning fast recording. Capable of full 1080p HD footage at 30 frames per second, the camera is also design to capture full HD stereo sound thanks to a pair of built-in mics. The Vixia mini is available now at major electronic retailers at an MSRP of $300.

Samsung merges Evernote with its Wi-Fi compatible cameras

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Cameras | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 1:03 am

Today, Samsung announced that it has integrated Evernote into its Wi-Fi enabled WB250F SMART Camera. This will allow direct syncing to the owner's Evernote account. Evernote access will be available after users download and install a small software update. The company says that those who purchase a new $250 WB250F will receive 3 months of Evernote Premium that will allow users to upload 1GB of data every month instead of the 60MB the standard free account includes.

 

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Unfortunately, users of a free Evernote account will not get to experience the full potential of this service as 60MB a month would be equivalent to fewer than 30 photos every month. Even the Evernote Premium's quota of 1GB seems small to me, but I am the exception as I shoot with a DSLR and take well over 5000 photos every month. Samsung says that the WB250 SMART Camera features a 14.2-megapixel sensor, Wi-Fi Direct, and Direct to Facebook upload access. The camera is also capable of 1080p video capture at 30fps.

Kwikset unveils Kevo, a bluetooth-enabled deadbolt now on preorder

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 12:05 am

Today, Kwickset, the largest home entry lock maker in the US, unveiled a new deadbolt set that can be unlocked with your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0. Dubbed the Kevo, the wireless deadbolt utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology to unlock your door when your phone comes within range of its sensor. A wireless Bluetooth key dongle is also included for those without smartphones, and the device still functions with a normal key for instances when the batteries may be dead.

 

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The deadbolt is available in three finishes including Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze, and Polished Brass. Powered by 4 AA batteries, the set includes two traditional keys, a wireless keyfob, and two "eKeys" for smartphones. For now, the company's smartphone app is only available for third-generation or higher iOS devices, but an Android app and BlackBerry 10 app are in the works. The new deadbolt lock is available for pre-order now at a hefty $219 price tag, which is about ten times the cost of a normal deadbolt.

Apple feels pressure from Google Chromecast, refurb Apple TV now $75

By: Charles Gantt | More News: HT & Movies | Posted: Jul 31, 2013 11:03 pm

As I predicted, set-top box manufacturers are scared of Google's new Chromecast HDMI media streaming dongle, and rightfully so. The little device costs just one-third of what comparable devices cost from other major brands. With companies like Netflix, Vimeo, Spotify, HBO, and PLEX either supporting Chromecast or planning support, the $35 dongle looks more appealing than anything else.

 

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Today, Apple has dropped the price on its refurbished Apple TV box from about $85 to just $75. Is this because of Google's success with the $35 Chromecast? That could be it, but Apple does have a history of reevaluating their refurbished prices and dropping them if the market is slow, so it really could be either of the reasons. A brand new Apple TV unit retails for about $99 new, so there is little value in choosing the refurb over the new, but my bet is to go with the $35 Chromecast.

USB 3.1 10Gbps standard finalized, moves into development

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Jul 31, 2013 10:03 pm

Today, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that the USB 3.1 Specification standard has been finalized. This will allow SuperSpeed USB to transfer at up to 10Gbps. The new transfer speeds are made possible by more efficient data encoding algorithms that allow the protocol to deliver more than twice the throughput of the current USB 3.0 standard.

 

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"The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps," said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. "The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development."

 

The Group says that the new standard is fully backwards compatible with existing USB 3.0 cables and connectors. All existing software stacks, protocols, and 5Gbps hubs will continue to function with the new standard as well. If you are interested, you can download the latest release of the specification from Source #2 below.

AMD and Intel in bed with NSA? Are backdoors built into processors?

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jul 31, 2013 9:04 pm

The Australian Finance Review has just published a new story that suggests that the NSA may have hardware level backdoors built into current generation AMD and Intel processors. Leading security expert Steve Blank says that he first caught on to the practice when he noticed that the NSA had access to Microsoft emails before they were encrypted. He says that he would be extremely surprised if the NSA did not have access to a processor microcode level backdoor on every PC in America.

 

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His reasoning behind the theory is quite simple. The sheer power needed to brute force crack AES 256-bit encryption on a single file would be equivalent to "the power of 10 million suns" and that a hardware backdoor would require almost no effort to enter and would allow agents access inside your PC in a matter of minutes. Jonathan Brossard, another expert in the security field, demonstrated this as a proof of concept at last year's Black Hat conference. These backdoors are made possible because they are placed inside the microcode which is stored on the chip itself and gets updated every time Microsoft, Apple, or any other OS pushes out an update.

Xbox 360 gets new stand-up comedy app from Comedy Central

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Jul 31, 2013 8:03 pm

Yesterday, Comedy Central launched its new CC: Stand-Up app on the Xbox 360. The new stand-up comedy app brings over 6,000 videos from more than 700 comedians straight to your living room for the first time ever. Comedy Central says that the app is different from the iOS and Android versions as the Xbox app focuses more on long term viewing rather than on discovery of new comedians and new material.

 

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"We're looking opportunistically at all these different platforms, moving down the chain from biggest to smallest," said Ben Hurst, Viacom Entertainment Group's vice president of mobile and emerging platforms. "We want to get digitally distributed content everywhere." When asked if the company is worried about the new digital content leaching off viewers from its cable channel, Hurst said "We've now introduced fans to a new comedian or have gotten them excited to watch the new special. We view this as additive, not cannibalistic."

 

Comedy Central also launched a companion site to the Stand-Up app earlier this month named CC: Stand-Up Direct in which users can access the full stand-up library over the net and pay $5 per stream or download. The new Xbox CC: Stand-up app is available free of charge to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, which costs just $5 per month with a one-year agreement.

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