Samsung announces all-metal 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 smartphone

Anthony Garreffa | Modding | Jan 12, 2015 5:34 PM CST

Samsung did say it was going to ease down on the amount of smartphone offerings for 2015, but here we are just days into the New Year and we're being introduced to the new, all-metal Galaxy A7 handset.

The new Galaxy A7 smartphone features a much better, high quality build made from a full aluminum, unibody construction. We have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 64-bit processor, providing eight CPU cores in total. These are split into two separate quad-core processors, clocked at 1.8GHz, and 1.3GHz or 1.5GHz and 1GHz for the dual SIM version of the Galaxy A7.

We don't know which resolution the 5.5-inch panel sports, but we can be sure it'll be 1920x1080 (but it could be 720p, boo). There's also 2GB of RAM, 16GB of NAND flash backed up by expandable microSD, LTE Category 4, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 5-megapixel selfie shooter, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and Android 4.4. We should expect a 2600mAh battery, and a thin design for the Galaxy A7.

Continue reading: Samsung announces all-metal 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 smartphone (full post)

Bitcoins draw interest, but volatility and tax headaches linger

Michael Hatamoto | Business, Financial & Legal | Jan 12, 2015 5:23 PM CST

The bitcoin cryptocurrency endured highs and lows throughout 2014, with the bitcoin economy making progress - but valuation saw continued decline. Compared to other currencies, bitcoins suffered the worst, decreasing 67 percent throughout 2014, and is off to a turbulent start in 2015, cryptocurrency analysts noted.

Despite a volatile value, CoinDesk predicts there will be more than 140,000 merchants and retailers accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.

The IRS ruled in 2014 that bitcoins are property and not currency, which could cause major headaches for bitcoin owners. US taxpayers will need to be careful when filing their taxes, and since bitcoin value declined, likely won't have to pay any type of taxes for gains.

Continue reading: Bitcoins draw interest, but volatility and tax headaches linger (full post)

50 Cent will embrace streaming music subscriptions as industry changes

Michael Hatamoto | Business, Financial & Legal | Jan 12, 2015 4:52 PM CST

The transition from paid song and album digital downloads to online streaming radio stations has turned the music industry upside down. Streaming music is reportedly hurting music industry revenue, with more listeners choosing streaming apps and services over paying for digital downloads, according to the Strategy Analytics research group.

Musicians are caught in the middle of the uncertainty, as they want a fair cut of music profits - but are trying to be careful not to alienate their respective fan base.

"We're going to pay for it like we pay for cable - monthly blocks for everything instead of each individual release," said 50 Cent, rapper and founder of SMS Audio, in an interview with the Telegraph. "It used to be that music release had a build-up to a day and it a felt like an event, and everyone who was passionate about the artist was doing it at the same time. Now it has come out in pieces. The singles will probably be the largely portion of the profits."

Continue reading: 50 Cent will embrace streaming music subscriptions as industry changes (full post)

North Koreans angry 'Interview' portrays them "as a bunch of idiots"

Ben Gourlay | Celebrities & Entertainment | Jan 12, 2015 4:40 PM CST

Whilst 'The Interview' slowly recoups its production costs, the international ramifications of the film are beginning to be felt from inside North Korea. In a New York Times article published yesterday, a North Korean defector who assisted with the distribution of the film into North Korea has spoken with a number of people who viewed the film in secrecy. Chung Kwang-il reported that those who he speak to "cursed at the movie ... angry it depicted North Koreans as a bunch of idiots".

Mr. Chung further reported that North Koreans reviled the films poor accents and cringe-worthy imitations of communist slogans and that the film will "only increase animosity among us because it not only failed to understand our feelings, but didn't even try to."

It seems those hoping the film could result in the collapse of the communist state need a reality check.

Continue reading: North Koreans angry 'Interview' portrays them "as a bunch of idiots" (full post)

IDC: PC market remains slow, reaching 80.8 M units shipped in Q4 2014

Michael Hatamoto | Business, Financial & Legal | Jan 12, 2015 3:58 PM CST

Global PC shipments reached 80.8 million units during Q4 of 2014, a -2.4 percent year-over-year decline, according to the IDC research group. The US and European markets proved stronger than other regions of the world, with positive signs that the overall PC market is progressing with positive signs after years of increased competition.

Hewlett-Packard saw 26.2 percent Q4 year-over-year growth, while Dell (13.7 percent), Apple (18.1 percent), and Lenovo (7.9 percent) prepare to battle in the resurgent US PC market.

"The U.S. PC market continued to grow in the fourth quarter, outperforming the global market for the tenth consecutive quarter," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst of the personal computing division at IDC. "The past year was supported by Windows XP to 7 migrations in the commercial segment while consumer volume continued to decline."

Continue reading: IDC: PC market remains slow, reaching 80.8 M units shipped in Q4 2014 (full post)

Virtual reality showing promise, but not everyone on the bandwagon

Virtual reality products were on full display at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, and while VR continues to go mainstream, there are a lot of questions that still must be answered.

VR adoption should increase in 2015, as companies tweak their hardware and software offerings, though should remain most common in the gaming sector. However, VR will still be a niche technology, until several major roadblocks are accurately addressed.

"It will stay relatively niche because it still has several technological hurdles to overcome," said Piers Harding-Rolls, HIS analyst, in a statement to BBC. "A lot of people that have tested the current headsets, a good proportion of them have not enjoyed the experience. It can make them feel woozy and sick, and the manufacturers really have to overcome that."

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Russian spy agency tried to recruit Edward Snowden to join its ranks

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Jan 12, 2015 3:09 PM CST

The Russian FSB intelligence security service reportedly tried to recruit former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, approaching him while he was stranded in the Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2013. The American fugitive declined the offer.

Snowden was reportedly approached only once and he "didn't give anything to the Russians at all," according to WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison, a close friend to the stranded American.

Snowden was granted temporary asylum to stay in Russia in August 2013, and he remains inside of Russian borders.

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Purported in-game shots of Grand Theft Auto V for the PC arrive

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jan 12, 2015 3:09 PM CST

A couple of screenshots for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V have surfaced, showing the difference between low and high settings. The screenshots are coming from NfoHump user 'Neon' who is surely going to have most of the Internet talking with these GTA V screenshots.

The two shots are in-game shots from the PC version of GTA V, but it was only a few days ago that the same user posted some shots of the Settings menu of GTA V on the PC (above), as well as a few other screenshots of the game. Now we have a a low quality, and high quality screenshot to see if we can spot a big difference in quality.

Above, we have the low quality and high quality screenshots (low is the top one, high the one below it). Both of these screenshots were reportedly taken on a GeForce GTX 970 with 4GB of RAM. As you can see, there is quite a large difference between the low and high quality settings in the game, such as draw distance, shadowing, reflections on the car, and much more.

Continue reading: Purported in-game shots of Grand Theft Auto V for the PC arrive (full post)

Criminals victimize compromised United Airlines MileagePlus accounts

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Jan 12, 2015 2:19 PM CST

United Airlines says it wasn't breached as several MileagePlus members have discovered fraudulent activity on their accounts. It appears usernames and passwords were compromised from a third-party, and the unauthorized purchases began sometime in December 2014, the airline has confirmed. The California Office of the Attorney General was notified about the incident last week.

United is still trying to determine how the information was compromised, as criminals have increasingly targeted loyalty programs for airlines, hotels and other travel industry businesses. The accrued points are easy to cash out for restaurants, rental cars, air travel, hotels, and other perks.

Cybercriminals are finding new methods to find usernames and password credentials to steal - and the fraudulent activity suffered by MileagePlus members is an indication that trend will continue.

Continue reading: Criminals victimize compromised United Airlines MileagePlus accounts (full post)

Diamond Multimedia tease wireless AC and 4K devices at CES 2015

CES 2015 - Diamond Multimedia is well known for their line of AMD GPUs, but recently they have started to focus more on peripherals of all sorts from 4K streaming devices to Wireless AC peripherals. To start off they are launching a powerful router, the WLR1200AC, which features dual-band (5GHz/2.4GHz) wireless 802.11AC.

Here we have the WR750AC Dual Band Range Extender and WL600AC USB network adapter, which both support the new 802.11AC wireless standard. They also support dual band 5GHz/2.4GHz. The USB adapter comes in two versions, one with the antenna and one without.

On the left we have the BVU5500 USB 3.0 4K display adapter which is a simple device that will allow you to stream to a 4K monitor from your laptop. Then on the right we have the WPCTV3000 4K video streaming device, which utilizes the latest wireless display technologies to wirelessly stream content to a 4K display. It also allows for multiple users to connect to it, which makes it great for wireless presentations where more than one user needs to display content.

Continue reading: Diamond Multimedia tease wireless AC and 4K devices at CES 2015 (full post)