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Facebook's update to Messenger app on iOS allows free calls in the US

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Apps | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 11:01 pm

Facebook has updated the iOS version of its Messenger app to allow iPhone users to make free calls to the US over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. The update is expected to be rolled out to Android and BlackBerry in the coming weeks. IN fact, the feature is being slowly rolled out to iPhone users, with not everyone able to use the feature quite yet.




To make a call from the iOS app, select the "i" button and select Free Call. This feature is a direct competitor to Google Voice, a service by Google that allows users to make free calls to the US. Google Voice was a lifesaver--and wallet saver--for me while I was in Europe, so having the ability to use my iPhone would be that much better.


However, the app isn't quite as good as Google Voice. To use the free calling, it requires a user's friends to have the app installed on their iPhone and it cannot call a landline, unlike Google Voice. Facebook has stated they are working on an update for BlackBerry and Android to bring the same functionality to those ecosystems.

Power plants hit by USB malware in the US, raises concerns about infrastructure security

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 10:28 pm

Last year, two US power plants were infected by malware that was brought into the system by USB drives. This is according to the US Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) as this is their job to protect and respond to security issues such as this. These latest events just add fuel to the growing fire over whether or not key infrastructure is secure.




ICS-CERT has said that the two power plants were targeted by "sophisticated" attacks. ICS-CERT added that these are common and are expected to continue increasing with time.


One technician uploaded the virus to one power plant while attempting to update software on the system. The other plant was infected by a USB used to back up control systems configurations. He reported issues with the drive and IT staff found the malware present on the drive.


The systems were taken offline for around three weeks while the problems were sorted out. This goes to show just how much of a problem malware could be to key infrastructure systems in the future.

Google's Larry Page blasts Facebook, says they are doing a 'really bad job' with their products

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 10:04 pm

Larry Page, in an interview with Wired, has blasted Facebook for doing a "really bad job" with their products. This topic of conversation came up when Larry Page was asked about Google's motivations for competing with Facebook for social networking.




"They're a company that's strong in that space," he said. "But they're also doing a really bad job on their products." Not much more was said on the topic about which products were especially bad, but this is one of the most direct criticisms leveled by Page against Facebook.


He went on to note how Facebook doesn't need to fail for Google+ to be a success: "We're actually doing something different," Page said. "I think it's outrageous to say that there's only space for one company in these areas." He added: "A lot of it has been copied by our competitors, so I think we're doing a good job."

Sprint LTE coming to 28 more small markets as the company rushes to catch AT&T, Verizon

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 9:32 pm

Sprint users who have access to LTE phones often don't have access to any LTE coverage. I, for one, was one of those left out in the dark ages by Sprint, even though I have the latest LTE iPhone 5. While in Vegas for CES 2013, I was amazed that LTE hadn't hit that market yet, as CES would seem to be a perfect time to light it up.




However, Sprint is far behind AT&T and Verizon in terms of LTE coverage, so they are rapidly moving to implement LTE across the country and have pledged to cover their entire 3G footprint with LTE by the end of the year. 28 more cities have been added to the list of cities getting 4G in the coming months.


These markets include: Paris, Texas; Decatur, Ala.; Winona, Minn.; Homosassa Springs, Fla.; and Glasgow, Ky. While one would expect Sprint to cover the major cities and markets first, in no way is this bad news. This is progress, though they need to make it at a much quicker rate to keep their pledge.

Refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros in Online Refurb store, will set you back $1439

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Laptops | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 9:02 pm

If you want one of Apple's shiny 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros but don't want to pay sticker price, you're now in luck. Apple has added refurbished models of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro to its online refurb store. The best part about this is that the sticker price is 15 percent less than a new model.




Apple's refurbished products are basically new. They are packaged like retail products and come with the same one-year AppleCare warranty. It's interesting to note that the 13-inch version of the Retina MacBook Pro made it into the store quicker than the 15-inch version did. The 13-inch version came to the store just about two weeks after the 15-inch version did. However, it released months later in October.

Larry Page asks how well Steve Job's thermonuclear war is going for them

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 8:33 pm

Larry Page, during a recent interview with Wired, brought up Steve Job's comment about waging thermonuclear war on Android. His response was a simple, yet effective one: "How well is that working?" If you use stock price to judge how well its working, then the answer is also simple: not well.




The interview then transitioned towards self-driving cars and Google X, known for projects such as the Google Self-Driving car and Project Glass:


You know, we always have these debates: We have all this money, we have all these people, why aren't we doing more stuff? You may say that Apple only does a very, very small number of things, and that's working pretty well for them. But I find that unsatisfying. I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people's lives better. At Google we're attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there's 99 percent virgin territory. Investors always worry, "Oh, you guys are going to spend too much money on these crazy things." But those are now the things they're most excited about-YouTube, Chrome, Android. If you're not doing some things that are crazy, then you're doing the wrong things.


It seems as though Google isn't too worried about the future.

SpaceTT: NASA unveils 'BEAM', an inflatable habitat module for ISS

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 6:29 pm

Earlier this week, I reported on NASA's plans to add an inflatable habitat module to the International Space Station. Today the space agency has released photos and a simulation animation on how the module will connect to the ISS.


Officially named the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM for short, the module will test expandable space habitat technology. While early reports showed the module as being quite large, the photo above is said to depict the actual size of the module that will fly into space.



BEAM is scheduled to launch on SpaceX's eighth cargo resupply mission to the ISS, which has been contracted by NASA for some time in 2015. As seen in the video above, astronauts will use the stations robotic arm to install the inflatable BEAM module and a two year test of the module will commence.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: NASA unveils 'BEAM', an inflatable habitat module for ISS' (full post)

Mega to feature 50GB of free cloud storage, tweets founder Dotcom

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 6:24 pm

Kim Dotcom, the infamous creator of Megaupload, has announced via Twitter in a series of tweets that Mega, the encrypted file sharing service, will feature 50GB of free cloud storage upon launch. It also has plans to bring back Megaupload user's data.




50GB of storage is quite a bit with other cloud based services offering less than 10GB, but we all know that Kim Dotcom loves to do things in grand style. Dotcom also revealed that the service will be hosted on the New Zealand based domain




Dotcom also tweeted that Mega was partnering with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in court to give Megaupload users access to their files. The team of lawyers "will seek court permission" to make the transfer. Mega is set to launch in just two days. Do you plan on signing up on launch day? Let us know in the comments below.

Weekly Giveaway: Win a Samsung 250GB 840 Series SSD (Global Entry Accepted)

By: Cameron Wilmot | More News: Contests & Giveaways | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 5:56 pm

This week we have teamed up with Samsung who are giving away one of its new 840 Series solid state drives.




The drive on offer has a solid capacity of 250GB and since it uses a 7mm Ultraslim form factor, it will fit just fine in your new Ultrabook laptop, as well as your desktop PC. The drive has read speeds of up to 530MB/s and write speeds up to 240MB/s. Read IOPS top out at an incredible 95,000.


It also comes with one of the best SSD bundles out including Samsung SmartMigration Software, Samsung Software & Manual CD, Quick User Manual, 3.5" bracket with screws, SATA data and power cables and a Mounting Spacer.


This time we are running the weekly giveaway a little differently. In order to comply with Facebook's policies, we are running the giveaway directly through an app on our Facebook page. It's really easy - all you have to do to enter is become (or be) a TweakTown Facebook page fan and enter a valid email address. The winner will be alerted via email, it's important your email is correct.



Yelp to add "Hygiene Score" to reviews from establishments in New York and San Francisco, more cities on the way

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Apps | Posted: Jan 17, 2013 5:41 pm

Yelp has announced that it will be adding a new feature to its business pages. Users will now be able to see an eateries health department score. Health departments have mandated that this score be displayed publicly, usually on a window near a door, but now consumers using the popular app can view it before they decide to eat at the establishment.




The new feature will be rolled out to New York and San Francisco over the next few weeks, then expand to Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and potentially other cities in coming months. Examples of places that already have health scores on Yelp include San Francisco's Royal Ground Coffee and The Cheese Steak Shop.


This new feature could be somewhat of a lifesaver for Yelp whose stock dropped after Facebook announced its new "Graph Search" earlier this week. Graph search allows users to poll Facebook's massive database and search for anything. An example search string would be "Mexican Restaurants in Atlanta that my friends ate at and loved", and Graph Search will compile a list of locations based on your friends about that place. This lets users rely on friend based reviews rather than reviews from complete strangers.