Another Bitcoin exchange halts transfers over website issues

Charles Gantt | Business, Financial & Legal | Feb 11, 2014 5:19 PM CST

Earlier this week, I reported on Bitcoin exchange MT. Gox suspending all withdrawal transactions over a long-known bug that allows nefarious users to basically make incoming transactions appear as if they never completed. Today word has came down that another Bitcoin exchange, Bitstamp has also suspended withdrawal transactions, but this time the issue is not due to a software bug, but rather was the result of a Denial of Service Attack (DDOS).

Bitstamp is the largest of several exchanges used for trading Bitcoins, and actually trades a little higher than Mt. Gox on average, making it a big target for attacks like these. At the time of this writing, Bitcoins were trading for $656 each, $100 higher than Mt. Gox. No further information was given on the DDOS attack, or any clue as to where it originated from, but with Bitcoins becoming more popular by the day, we can expect to see these types of attacks begin showing up more frequently.

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SanDisk unveils new Ultra Dual USB drive for PC and Mobile devices

Charles Gantt | Storage | Feb 11, 2014 4:06 PM CST

USB flash drives designed for use with mobile devices are quickly becoming one of the fastest growing segments in personal storage, and today SanDisk has unveiled its first entry into the USB flash drive for mobile arena. Today the company announced the launch of its first Dual USB drive that is designed to work with both laptops and desktops as well a mobile devices running Android.

The SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive has been designed for Android-based smartphone and tablet users who have been looking for a reliable and fast method of transferring data from their mobile device to their PC. The new Ultra Dual USB Drive allows users to do this by featuring a micro-USB connector as well as a full-sized USB B connector for quick and easy file transfers. This frees up much needed space on the mobile device, and also serves as a way for users to carry additional data that can be easily accessed by an Android tablet or smartphone at moments notice.

"The SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive provides a simple, convenient way to offload and backup files from smartphones and tablets - with the peace of mind that comes with the trusted SanDisk brand," said Dinesh Bahal, vice president, product marketing, SanDisk. "This new drive integrates with SanDisk's Memory Zone app to make freeing up space on mobile devices simpler than ever, improving the user experience." The SanDisk Dual USB Drive is available in capacities of 16BG, 32GB and 64GB and is available now.

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ReportTT: Mozilla is planning to sell ads within its Firefox browser

Charles Gantt | Software & Apps | Feb 11, 2014 2:41 PM CST

Today, Mozilla announced that it will soon begin selling ads within Firefox, its internet browser. This announcement serves as a followup on an earlier announcement made by the company last year when it said that its browser would begin blocking third-party advertising software automatically by default, something that sent the online advertising industry ablaze with chatter on the topic.

Mozilla says that the ads will appear within Firefox's "New Tabs Page," and will feature both locally targeted as well as mass market ads via a new initiative called "Directory Tiles." Mozilla unveiled a beta version of the Directory Tile system last year for users who opted in to receiving tailored content delivered to them based on their browsing history, and the company says that from its testing, it now sees more than 100 billion "tile impressions" annually. This opens up a big advertising niche that Mozilla hopes to capitalize on.

"Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla's pursuit of our mission," Mozilla said in a blog post. "The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy." A spokes person for Mozilla followed up by saying: "We are looking to partner with like-minded content owners and creators, such as leading publishers and curators as well as innovative advertising agencies."

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Sony now sells its waterproof MP3 player inside a bottle of water

Charles Gantt | Audio, Sound & Speakers | Feb 11, 2014 1:35 PM CST

In a world where stand-alone MP3 players are a quickly dying breed, companies are resulting to extreme measures to sell their products in which they have invested millions into. Sony's W Series Walkman is one of those devices that while it may be a barebones MP3 player with no additional special functionality, has one major thing going for it; its waterproof.

To highlight this unique feature in New Zealand, Sony has began packaging the W Series inside of a bottle full of water with the help from an ad firm called DraftFCB. The bottle appears to be a reusable sports bottle with a stainless steel band around the top that bears the Walkman logo. Getting your hands on one of these will not be easy though as Sony has placed vending machines containing the Bottled Walkman inside of select gyms and pool facilities around New Zealand.

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Flappy Bird was killed because it was too addictive says developer

Charles Gantt | Software & Apps | Feb 11, 2014 9:39 AM CST

This morning we are getting some insight into why one of the most popular apps in recent months was abruptly pulled from the market despite it earning its creator more than $50,000 per day. In an interview with Forbes, Flappy Bird creator Dong Ngueyen, said that he made the decision to pull the game from the Apple App Store and Google Play because it has became addictive for so many players.

"Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed," said Nguyen. "But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it's best to take down Flappy Bird. It's gone forever." He went on to say that he could not sleep due to the pressure and the stress that the games success was causing him, and that even though it is gone, the game has given him new found confidence. Unfortunately the decision to pull the game has given profiteers new confidence as well with several knock offs popping up as well as iPhone 5S models with Flappy Bird installed popping up on eBay for tens of thousands of dollars.

Ngueyen is not a one hit wonder developer though, at the moment he has several other top games in both the Apple App Store and on Google Play. Super Ball Juggling, and Shruiken Block rank number 6 and 18 respectively in the App Store and he has no plans to remove them. However, he did say that if they became addicting to users, he would not hesitate to remove them. When asked if he now felt that pulling Flappy Bird was a mistake, Ngueyen said; "I don't think it's a mistake," he says. "I have thought it through."

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Former NSA analyst creates encryption tool to prevent snooping

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Feb 11, 2014 4:26 AM CST

Former NSA analyst Will Ackerly and his brother, John Ackerly, are the co-founders of Virtru, a startup security company helping users encrypt e-mails and digital communications. Unlike other encryption solutions, Virtru allows users to encrypt information - and send it - and has an extremely easy user interface to ensure neither user needs to be overly tech savvy.

The Virtru plugin easily and quickly encrypts e-mails and other contents using AES 256 encryption standard, and senders must have the plugin installed. However, recipients only need to authenticate their identity with an e-mail address, and Virtru holds the decryption key.

"What we've tried to do - and what's different from what a lot of encrypted communication tools out there have done - is really spend time to integrate the encryption technology directly into Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com," John Ackerly, Virtru CTO, in a statement to the media.

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SoftBank and Sprint unlikely to receive approval to acquire T-Mobile

Sprint and SoftBank are trying to determine if a continued effort to acquire T-Mobile is worth the trouble, as antitrust officials want to keep as much competition alive as possible. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Chairman Masayoshi Son reportedly have met with U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials, though trying to convince antitrust officials to approve the deal will be difficult.

When AT&T, currently the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, expressed interest in purchasing T-Mobile a few years ago, the deal was almost instantly shot down. It would be hard to imagine the No. 3 wireless carrier being allowed to successfully acquire T-Mobile, which is No. 4, especially after SoftBank purchased majority stake in the company.

"A few years ago only AT&T and Verizon were growing," said tech analyst Jeff Kagan. "At that time T-Mobile and Sprint were in trouble. Since that time things are starting to change. T-Mobile got a new CEO and has started to grow once again. Sprint has been acquired by Softbank and has not started to grow yet, but we are hoping to see that growth begin sooner rather than later."

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Copyright groups say Canada is haven for Internet piracy

Michael Hatamoto | Internet & Websites | Feb 10, 2014 9:05 PM CST

Ice hockey, maple syrup, Bieber and... Internet piracy? The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recently recommended Canada's addition to the Special 301 "watch list." There is special interest in the number of torrent sites and online piracy groups that are based in Canada, including a wide collection of smaller torrent sites.

"Even after the shuttering of Isohunt, Canada is still the home to some of the world's most popular Internet sites dedicated to piracy, including Torrentz.eu and Kickass.to, which garnered rankings of third and second place, respectively, on one of the most widely accessed listings on the world's most popular illicit BitTorrent sites," the IIPA claims.

The IIPA is made up of the RIAA, MPAA, ESA, BSA, and other copyright groups that share information, effective anti-piracy measures, and current legal efforts. IIPA officials would like to see U.S. lawmakers influence Canadian peers to crack down more harshly on piracy.

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Devs say no more patches to Batman Arkham origins, new DLC instead

Charles Gantt | Gaming | Feb 10, 2014 5:03 PM CST

Batman: Arkham Origins has been plagued with issues since launch, and it appears that its developer, Warner Bros Montreal, has no plan on any further patches to fix the games remaining bugs. In a support post on the game's official forums, a developer revealed that the development studio is not planning any future patches to fix issues with the game. Instead, Warner Bros Montreal will focus on bringing new DLC to the game.

"Hi all, the team is currently working hard on the upcoming story DLC and there currently are no plans for releasing another patch to address the issues that have been reported on the forums," said the forum post. "If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play. The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused for some of you, and want to thank you for having been patient."

The thread was quickly inundated with post from angry gamers, and rightfully so. When you spend upwards of $60 on a game and commit to different DLC packs at additional cost, you expect that the game will work out of the box, and expect any issues that may arise to be taken care of swiftly. This is just a small segment in a long list of games that have been released with lots of bugs in recent years which have either taken quite a while to address of even be addressed at all.

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Firepower Technology picks up OCZ's power supply assets

Michael Hatamoto | Cases, Cooling & PSU | Feb 10, 2014 4:16 PM CST

Shuttered electronics company OCZ Technology has sold its power supply assets to Firepower Technology, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Firepower paid just $850,000 for the OCZ business unit, as the former Silicon Valley company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2013.

Specifically, ZCO Liquidating Corporation brokered a deal between OCZ and Firepower Technology, "mainly consisting of its power supply and power management assets," according to the SEC filing. Firepower is a private company based in Delaware, and it is rumored OCZ product technology will be absorbed and possibly re-distributed by Firepower.

Previously, Toshiba stepped up to pick up OCZ's solid state drive (SSD) technology, as companies continue to circle, trying to get some bargain technology. The company's fall from grace left PC enthusiasts with one less company - despite creating fairly popular products, OCZ was unable to properly transition from niche consumer company to successful business able to cater to the enterprise.

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