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Microsoft beefs up Xbox One GPU specs

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 11:06 pm

We're not far from the launch of the NSA's Microsoft's Xbox One console, with Major Nelson announcing today that the GPU in the Xbox One having its clock speed increased.




Major Nelson announced the news during his talk with Xbox's Marc Whitten, saying that the changes will allow the next-gen console from Microsoft push out better graphics. Nelson noted that Microsoft have been listening to fans who have been saying that the Xbox One is less powerful than the PlayStation 4, so they've done something about it.


The first of these improvements is something Microsoft call a "mono driver", which is just a graphics driver that is optimized for the Xbox One. Most developers are already using this, according to Microsoft: "You start with the base DX driver and you take out all parts that don't look like Xbox One and you add in everything that really, really optimises that experience. Almost all of our content partners have picked it up now."

Continue reading 'Microsoft beefs up Xbox One GPU specs' (full post)

Samsung Smart TVs could let hackers watch you via built-in webcam

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 10:03 pm

With all the recent revelations and allegations about the NSA and other foreign agencies been able to spy on you through backdoors in your computers and through the microphones on your smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, it should come as no surprise that your Smart TV may be spying on you as well.




It's not pleasant all the stories are popping up at the same time, as this week the world's largest security conference known as Black Hat took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yesterday, two researchers named Aaron Grattafiori and Josh Yavor demonstrated several vulnerabilities found in the 2012 models of Samsung's Smart TV line. The demonstration took place as Black Hat was wrapping up and it showed how hackers could turn on the built-in camera, take control of social media apps, and access files that were stored on the television.


"Because the TV only has a single user," Grattafiori explained in an interview with Mashable, "any type of compromise into an application or into Smart Hub, which is the operating system--the smarts of the TV--has the same permission as every user, which is, you can do everything and anything."


The two researchers discovered these issues back in December 2012 while working for security firm iSEC. They said that they alerted Samsung back in January and the company has since patched these holes via three software updates and on future generation devices, however, TVs that have not downloaded the update still remain vulnerable.

Google announces new app to help you locate stolen Android devices

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Apps | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 8:22 pm

Today, Google announced a new app that will soon help Android owners track down there lost or stolen devices. The app is named Android Device Manager and will allow users to track down their device on a map in real-time as well as activate the ringer or even delete the phone's contents before any sensitive information has been stolen.




Google says that the new app will be available on Android devices that run version 2.2 or higher. Given that 98.7 percent of all Android devices out in the wild today run Android 2.2 or better, it is safe to say that almost any phone or tablet has the possibility of being easily located if lost or stolen. Theoretically, parents can even use this feature to track their children, or any other Android phones they may have access to.


Google says that the app will be available in the Google Play Store later this month and will be available free of charge. Apple has had similar functionality for iOS devices for years, and I have always wondered why Google never released anything similar for Android.

Samsung says ad agency bribed devs who posted about competition

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 6:02 pm

Today, Samsung has admitted to allegations that developers were paid to mention its developer competition in the forums of the giant developer community Stack Overflow. Samsung says that a PR firm hired to promote the competition was offering the bloggers and developers "cash for content." In a statement to The Verge, Samsung condemned this behavior and says that it is "clearly against Samsung corporate policy."




Samsung says that as soon as it learned of the bribery taking place, it canceled the plans for the developer competition and parted ways with the firm. Samsung said, "We remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers." PR firm Fllu, the culprit behind the content buying tactics, apologized and claimed that they were a third party firm hired by another firm to handle some of the PR duties for the competition. Fllu's COO said in a statement that the tactics his company used were "misguided, unethical, and wrong."


This whole practice of seeding forums, blogs, and comments with paid content is known in the industry as "Astroturfing" and it is common for third, fourth, or fifth party shady ad agencies to do this without the main PR firm or client ever knowing about it. Not every client is innocent, though, because as the inception grows deeper, it makes it very hard to trace it all the way back up to the top and catch a major corporation red-handed.

Hosting giant BlueHost experiences massive outage this morning

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 4:35 pm

This morning, many webmasters awoke to emails and phone calls from clients and users informing them that their website was not reachable. Unfortunately, I was on both sides of the story. Shared hosting giant BlueHost announced this morning that they were experiencing "networking issues" that were affecting a good portion of their client base.




Sometime around 9AM EST, websites hosted with BlueHost began dropping offline, while others continued to function periodically. An hour later, BlueHost officially addressed the issue via Twitter and said that the company ran into networking issues during an upgrade the night before and the issues were still persisting into the morning. The latest tweet from the company says that the networking issues are still popping up, but most sites should be back online. It appears that my personal sites fall into the niche that remains offline and a call to BlueHost support resulted in a busy signal. You can follow updates on the outage by visiting the company's support Twitter account at Source #1 below.

Verizon includes smaller 500MB tier to its Share Everything plan

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 4:11 pm

Today, Verizon announced that it has updated its Share Everything plan to include a new lower tier of data for the user who does not need the higher data allotments. For $40 per month, users can opt for a 500MB data allowance that offers the same unlimited voice and text messaging as the more expensive plans.




This brings the cost of a plan with a single smartphone down to $80 with additional smartphone lines costing $40 each; additional feature phone lines will run customers $30 each. Additionally, if the data allowance is used up before the month is over and additional data is used, an extra 500MB will cost you $15, which is the same price as an additional 1GB costs on the higher tiered plans.

ASUS launches MeMO Pad HD 7 for $149 pre-order

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 3:05 pm

Today, ASUS released its new MeMO Pad HD 7 for pre-order at major US retailers at a very competitive price of just $149. While still lacking the high-end specs of Google's second-gen Nexus 7, the MeMO Pad HD manages to hold its own and is virtually unbeatable at its price point.




The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 features a 1280x800 display, 1.2GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8125 processor, and 1GB of RAM. A 5-megapixel rear camera is on hand to handle all of your photon capturing needs, while Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is the operating system of choice. Connectivity is handled by Bluetooth 4.0, the obligatory 802.11 bgn Wi-Fi, and a microUSB port. 16GB of onboard storage is present and can be augmented by a built-in microSD slot.


ASUS has the MeMO Pad 7 HD listed at Newegg, Amazon, Tiger Direct, and other major retailers for $149. The 7-inch tablet is being offered in blue, green, pink, and white. This is a pretty good deal and I would jump on it myself if I had not purchased a Nexus 7 from one of the staff here at TweakTown.

RumorTT: iPad mini to feature Retina display, will launch this year

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 12:27 pm

After so many conflicting reports, there's another one to add to the pile of iPad mini news. This time the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple suppliers are preparing their production lines to pump out a refreshed iPad mini with a Retina display.




The refreshed, high-resolution iPad mini will reportedly make it to retail shelves later this year according to "people familiar with the matter." These same sources state that Apple have been working with LG, Sharp and major competitor Samsung to source high-resolution screens for the refreshed iPad mini.


The sources add that Apple won't change from the 7.9-inch display, but will instead cram more pixels into the same space. The WSJ had an interesting bit in their piece that stated Apple were wanting to only use screens from LG and Sharp, but in order to get their demand requirements met, they had to knock on Samsung's door.

NVIDIA Shield teardown treatment, scores 6/10 for repairability

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 11:31 am

NVIDIA have launched its Shield console, and iFixit seem to be one of their first customers, and are here with a great teardown of the Android-powered gaming console.




iFixit make it look easy to get inside of the Shield, as they do with most teardowns, but once inside of the Shield, they say "this device looks nothing like any tablet we've ever taken apart... or game console... or anything." iFixit found a three-cell, 3.7V, 7350mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery inside, which will definitely give gamers plenty of time to play games or watch movies on Shield.


iFixit gave NVIDIA's Shield a repairability score of 6/10, stating that the battery wasn't easily accessible, and "will require some tricky disassembly to replace."

Sony see profits from smartphones with over 9.6 million units sold

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Aug 2, 2013 10:30 am

It looks like Sony are starting to make some money from their smartphone business - and so they should - they've been releasing some great smartphones lately, such as the Xperia Z, and the new Xperia Z Ultra.




Sony's latest earnings report showed that the Japanese company sold 9.6 million smartphones in the last quarter, a huge improvement year-over-year for the same quarter in 2012 of just 7.4 million units. As for the business side of things, Sony made a $60 million profit in their smartphone division, which is a stark contrast to the same quarter of last year, which saw them gobble up a $28.1 million loss.


This might not sound like much, but this is big for Sony considering the strong competition in Apple and Samsung. These two companies secure most of the profits in the smartphone market, and Sony are making waves pretty quickly if you ask me.