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'Connected' home technology on the rise, future looks interesting

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 8:38 pm

The growth of connected technologies will also drive demand for apps which have typically only found their way to smartphones and tablets. Since refrigerators, thermostats, and other connected home appliances typically don't rely on a traditional GUI to operate, apps are the best way for home owners to interact with smart technology.

 

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"As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data - what they say, what they do, where they go - that is transforming the app interaction paradigm," a Gartner analyst recently noted. "In the next three to four years, apps will no longer be simply confined to smartphones and tablets, but will impact a wider set of devices, from home appliances to cars and wearable devices."

 

For example, an app would send out an alert via the connected refrigerator to the owner to notify milk - or another staple food item - is running low.

 

Despite the growth of connected technologies, after a recent security study discovered at least one connected refrigerator was part of an organized botnet, security issues will clearly need to be addressed.

Qualcomm purchases large patent portfolio from HP

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 8:10 pm

This morning HP announced that it has sealed a deal in which Qualcomm will purchase an extensive mobile patent portfolio that includes patents associated with Palm, HP's iPAQ, and Bitfone. In total HP will sell more than 1,400 patents to Qualcomm for an undisclosed sum.

 

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Qualcomm makes about 32-percent of its annual revenue from licensing patents it owns, and this portfolio acquisition from HP will certainly help boost those revenues to an even higher percentage in 2014. In a statement Qualcomm said that the patents include "technologies that include fundamental mobile operating system techniques" and will "enable the company to offer even more value to current and future licensees."

 

HP says that it will retain a license to all the patents it sold as part of the deal, and it will continue to develop new mobile devices. Unfortunately, no word was given on how this affects LG who purchased WebOS' source code last year, but did not pick up the patent that now belongs to Qualcomm. Qualcomm and HP have a good relationship so I expect things will continue on as normal.

OnePlus's Cyanogen-powered smartphone set to arrive by June 2014

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 7:10 pm

Late last year, Pete Lau, former VP of Oppo announced the formation of a new company aimed at disrupting the current smartphone arena. He named the company OnePlus and set out to build the highest quality smartphone in the world. With just over a month in the books, OnePlus has just released a statement that says its first phone will make it to market by June of this year.

 

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OnePlus has officially named its first foray into the smartphone world, the OnePlus One, and says that it will be "Built using only the best components and 2014 flagship specs, both inside and out." While I am sure that statement made HTC take notice, I am quite excited myself to see what this phone may include both hardware and software wise. As far as aesthetics, the OnePlus said the folowing about the phone: "Industrial design wise, we're confident our phone is more attractive than just about any other on the market."

 

While no official specs have been released, we expect the phone to feature a screen size greater than 5-inches with a resolution of 1080p or 1440p. Ram should be in the 2-4GB range while the processor is most likely Qualcomm's flagship chip. Storage would be set between 64GB and 128GB, with expansion via microSD card built-in. We do know that CyanogenMod will be serving up the Android-based operating system for the device, and believe it to be Android 4.3 or 4.4.

FBI warns of future cyber attacks targeting retail stores

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 6:15 pm

After a handful of high-profile malware attacks targeting retail point-of-sale, the FBI identified around 20 similar hacking cases over the past 12 months.

 

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Dubbed the "Recent Cyber Intrusion Events Directed Towards Retail Firms," which was dated January 17, and is a shocking wake up call for retailers, credit card and banking executives trying to protect consumers.

 

"We believe POS malware crime will continue to grow over the near term, despite law enforcement and security firms' actions to mitigate it," the FBI noted in a recent report. "The accessibility of the malware on underground forums, the affordability of the software and the huge potential profits to be made from retail POS systems in the United States make this type of financially motivated cyber crime attractive to a wide range of actors."

 

Target continues to combat a public relations nightmare after 70+ million customers were affected, while Neiman Marcus also is battling a recent data breach that has led to fraudulent credit and debit card charges.

Aviary hits major milestone, 10 billion photos edited

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Apps | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 6:10 pm

If WhatsApp is king of app-based text messaging, then Aviary rules the photograph editing app world. Today the company announced that it has hit a massive milestone in the success of its company. Aviary announced that its app for Android and iOS has been used to edit over 10 billion photos since its launch.

 

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The company says that its success is largely due to the fact that its SDK is so popular with developers who have added the apps editing tools to their own apps and websites. Aviary has been integrated with more than 7,000 partner apps, with big names such as Pic Stitch, Tango, and even SquareSpace using features from the software. Aviary says that it now has over 70 million active monthly users and that it expects growth to continue in 2014.

 

In a statement the company said:

As we look forward, what most exciting is the fact that a new visual lingua franca has emerged. Unquestionably, photos have become the communication language of the global mobile generation. We are long past the point when photo editing was just about turning an average picture into a good one. Photo editing is now about enhancing visual communication between billions of people across the planet, in a way that embodies the full richness of emotions, feelings and inspiration.

Cougar unveils new MX300 mid-tower PC chassis

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 5:05 pm

This morning, Cougar unveiled its latest mid-tower PC chassis that has been designed with gamers in mind. The all new MX300 features a rugged honeycomb mesh front facade that allows ample airflow through the case. The MX300 is designed to provide gamers with an aggressive style while packing in all of the latest high-performance hardware.

 

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The MX300 is able to accommodate discrete GPUs up to 310mm in length as well as three 3.5-inch hard drives. For those who still use optical drives, the new chassis has room for three 5.25-inch drives as well. The entire drive system features tool-less mounting solutions for added convenience. The top of the case features dual USB 3.0 ports, while support for up to 7 120mm fans can be found on the inside. Cable management solutions have been provided inside the chassis for a clean and efficient setup as well.

 

All in all, the MX300 from Cougar appears to be a solid mid-tower chassis that is perfect for those building a gaming PC but are not ready to spend the cash needed to get a premium full-tower chassis. Personally I would have liked to seen more space for 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch hard drives and the removal of the 5.25-inch bays. The amount of fan options mean that there is ample room for cooling solutions and it looks like you may even be able to fit in a 240mm radiator from a AiO cooling system.

Microsoft sees revenue boost from Xbox One, 2013 holiday sales

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 4:50 pm

Microsoft has something to cheer about after the company saw strong year-over-year sales for the Xbox 360 game console, with the next-generation Xbox One also posting strong sales figures. The company sold 7.4 million Xbox 360 and Xbox One game consoles during the holiday shopping season, as Microsoft competes with the Sony PlayStation 4 in the game console market.

 

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In addition, the Microsoft Surface line of tablets saw revenue double, reaching $893 million from the previous quarter, as the company continues to try and invade the mobile market. Overall device revenue increased a massive 68 percent, reaching $4.73 billion, outpacing investor estimates.

 

However, Microsoft is still dealing with Windows revenue shrinking, as consumers and business users still waffle about embracing Windows 8/8.1, which will be a continued battle. The company once dominated software sales offering its products on CDs and DVDs, but expanding to the cloud - and increasing hardware sales - has continued to be a slippery slope for the tech giant.

HTC says its One will be getting the Android 4.4 treatment soon

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 3:39 pm

Owners of HTC's flagship, the One, will be happy to hear that the company has just announced that it has released its Android 4.4, KitKat, update to carrier level testing. This means that each service provider who carries the HTC One will now begin testing the update with their devices, and if everything passes, the updates should begin rolling out shortly.

 

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There is no set time limit on carrier testing, and any one of them could reject the update if it does not play well with each network in question. HTC says that certification could come as early as next week, but even so, it could take weeks before the carriers stage an OTA update roll out. Unfortunately, European HTC One owners will have to wait longer for their 4.4 update as HTC had no comment on when it may roll out.

King of 'revenge porn' charged, setting future precedent

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 3:30 pm

The proclaimed "king of revenge porn," Hunter Moore, and one other person were arrested and charged based on activities related to the once-popular website, isanyoneup.com.

 

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"The moral of the story is that his revenge porn site wasn't a good enough business model, and that he had to engage in illegal activity to populate the site with pictures," noted Wes Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California/leader of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section.

 

Both Moore and Charles Evens were charged with conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, including efforts to hack e-mail accounts to steal personal information. Moore previously stated on numerous occasions that everyone on the site were anonymously submitted to isanyoneup.com, which the federal government claims isn't true.

 

Evens was reportedly paid $200 per week for his criminal activity, with the working relationship first starting sometime in 2011. Hearing that both men could face up to five years in federal prison is little solace for the people that had their pictures and personal information published on the website.

Neiman Marcus confirms the obvious: 1.1 million customers compromised

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 2:43 pm

High-end boutique retailer Neiman Marcus confirmed up to 1.1 million credit cards were affected during a security data breach that was disclosed over the 2013 holiday shopping season. Starting in mid-July to late October last year, malware collected credit card and debit card information, with 2,400 cards reportedly used for fraudulent purchases.

 

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Customer Social Security numbers, debit card PIN numbers and birth dates weren't disclosed, and online shoppers haven't been affected.

 

"The malware the thieves deployed is more sophisticated and an unusual and a new way of gathering data," said David Robertson, The Nilson Report publisher, when speaking with the media. "In the history of the fight between hackers and retailers and anyone who holds payment data, the attack has occurred at the data center. That's where the largest number of accounts are. That's where the attack occurred because that's the biggest payoff."

 

Retailers already must deal with a number of different online threats, but malware and security risks facing brick and mortar retailers is a newer issue.

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