Sunday, April 20, 2014

Android Security - How The Big Tech Companies Keep Screwing Up

Android Security

They say that first impressions are everything, and nowhere is this more true than in the tech industry. This week, it seems that the running theme is “do it right the first time or forever play damage control whack-a-mole.” With brands aggressively competing in all spaces, products are leaving the shop floor half-baked and the companies are, thankfully, being punished for it.

Apple can’t seem to catch a break, as iOS 6 Maps has led multiple Australians into a desolate national park some 75 kilometers from their intended destination. The situation was bad enough that Apple received public ridicule and now has the dubious honor of putting people’s lives in danger by pushing out shoddy wares. No number of boardroom shakeups and managerial falling-on-swords can undo what has now become Apple’s albatross. Anytime it tries to compete with Google, or even Microsoft, in information-based application development, people will instantly recall the steaming turd that was iOS 6 Maps.

But don’t get too excited, Android fanboys. Android security is Google’s iOS 6 Maps, and this week it drove that image straight home with a solid whack: Android 4.2’s malware detection service is only identifying, at best, 15% of virus-laden Android apps. That rate is barely good enough to be called a tax on malware — stopping it outright is a long way off. A couple more years of this and Google’s going to start looking like it has the clap and people will be covering their Nexus devices with Magnum rubbers, lest they catch something oozy.

Next up is the Microsoft Surface, which has created the first impression of being the patron saint of slow and buggy. Given that the Surface lacks a retina screen and has a higher price tag than every other tablet on the market when you add in the Touch cover, it's safe to say that Microsoft failed miserably at its first impression test with its crap software execution.

Considering the Xbox is still fighting off years of pain caused by the Red Ring of Death, MS doesn’t need any more “we make really sh*tty quality devices” to hamper what’s already emerging as a failed launch for the Surface. Let’s hope that impression doesn’t spill over into next year’s Xbox 720 launch.

I’m sure Microsoft is pining for the days when it could crush complaints with a threat of pulled advertising, but the days of PR spinning and good press buying are over. Blogs and honest review sites long ago removed the smooth icing that allowed companies to pay for good magazine reviews — the hating industry is a bigger draw for readers. With tech companies emerging as the new celebrities with their respective throngs of fans, the tech paparazzi are hiding in the eaves, waiting for them to screw up and let their vajayjays hang out while exiting the Benz. A bajillion writers are ready at a minute’s notice to pen a 2,000-word diatribe on the dribble of mustard you had on your tie, Apple. Just ask Consumer Reports, which strains to come out with an iPhone gotcha to rival Antennagate with every new iPhone release.

So, big three, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Don’t punch anyone in a bar and remember to buckle up your toddler.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Can Facebook Get Free or Cheap Internet Access to the World?

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Withings Pulse

2014 Gear and Gadgets The road to six-pack abs and an all-round better level of fitness is made up of tens of thousands of steps taken, calories burned and elevated heartbeats per minute. This wearable smart activity tracker monitors all of that and more. To further assist you keep track of your progress, you can even pair it up with your iPhone or Android for more options and health statistics on the go. What sets the Withings Pulse apart from its competitors is the inclusion of an easy to use heart-rate sensor. Besides measuring your BPM at the gym to see when you’ve entered the zone, the product’s creators suggest you measure how much your heart rate rises before that hot date -- bet it’s not low. Another helpful feature is its ability to measure your sleep cycles to find out how long you are in light sleep, deep sleep or awake. There are plenty of useful things you can do with the Withings Pulse, it’s just up to you to keep track of your progress and use it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Muse Headband

Definitely the most futuristic product on this list and a gadget that’s not even released until January (fingers crossed), the Muse headband made by Toronto-based InteraXon is a peek into the future of brain-sensing technology. While Muse won’t let you move your cursor by thinking or automatically play songs based on your mood (yet), it gives you a real-time measurement of your brain’s activity. So how does that assist you? If you are one of the many people who complain that they "can’t turn off their minds," wearing Muse while focusing on your breathing (mindfulness meditation) or doing brain training games will assist you in improving your focus and give you an opportunity to see your progress. Meditation or simply getting better at letting go of your stresses will help you boost your productivity at work and make a zen warrior out of you. Muse will also be getting new apps that will eventually do the things sci-fi films have predicted for years. However, you don’t have to worry about it ever being able to read your thoughts or control your mind -- or so they say.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Apple iPad Air

2014 Gear and Gadgets You’ve heard it many times before, but tablets are useful and assist you on a daily basis in a variety of ways. From checking the weather, stocks, your social networks and surfing the internet, there’s really an app for everything these days and they also can save you a lot of money on books, printed newspapers and magazines if you like to read. If you want the best, the newly minted iPad Air with a new and improved processor and retina display is the way to go. My ranking of Apple might not make me any new Android-user friends, but most critics still put Apple’s tablet on top. The iPad Mini with Retina Display is a smaller less-expensive alternative to the iPad Air for the budget conscious and for an even better deal look at prices of the last generation iPad 2 or iPad Mini.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Google aims to bring project Ara to life within a year

Project Ara is happening and its happening fast, Google has taken charge of the modular smartphone project and is aiming for a January 2015 release- it won’t cost much either, with the standard price coming in at $50. That said, new modules and customisation options will like bulk up the smartphone’s price.

Google’s plans were revealed yesterday at the first Ara’s developers conference, project leader, Paul Eremenko explained that consumers would be able to buy the ‘Grey Phone’ as early as next year and is called the grey phone in order to encourage people to customise it. The $50 phone will start off as a basic device, it will then be up to the user to buy new modules to swap in and out.
One cool feature that was revealed was that the battery inside the phone is hot-swappable, so your phone will stay on in-between switching out the battery and some other components such as the WiFi module or the speaker. Between now and next year, Eremenko and the other two full time members of the team have their work cut out for them, they are currently working with all sorts of partners and arranging for modules to be made, they even have a 3D printing company building them a printer to create the modules on a mass scale.

At the conference, Eremenko did comment on Android’s lack of dynamic hardware support: “It’s true that Android does not support dynamic hardware today,” he said. “The good news is that we’re Google.” Right now users are used to swapping out their device every year or two for a shiny new one but that may become a thing of the past as Ara’s endoskeleton will last five or six years and those looking for a new look or more power can simply swap out the modules to get their fix.

Micromax Eyes at South Korean Smartphone Maker Pantech's Shares

Micromax, India's second largest smartphone seller has been phenomenally expanding in the global market. However, the company has not been able to beat Samsung in the home ground. The company has already started operating in the Russian market and now the latest report from Reuters suggest that the India-based smartphone maker is now looking to buy a potential amount of share from the struggling South Korean smartphone maker Pantech. Micromax Eyes at South Korean Smartphone Maker Pantech's Shares The exuberant move will surely make the domestic smartphone maker a bit more potential player in the international market. However, with regards to the details about the share, the deal is still not vivid as of now. The companies have not spoken about it formally as well.

Micromax Eyes at South Korean Smartphone Maker Pantech's Shares
Pantech, which comes from the South Korea, has already released a number of smartphones but unfortunately it has been unable to compete with its domestic rivals Samsung and LG.
According to the Reuters, nine creditor banks own a combined 37% of Pantech, while Qualcomm has a 12% stake and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd holds 10%. Thus it is evident that Micromax isn't the only company interested in Pantech. But it would have made a better sense if Micromax was looking for complete buyout instead of eying at a share in the company. Micromax could have possible used Pantech's R&D resources for its future smartphones, if it was a total buyout. Things are pretty vague and unclear at the moment, but more information regarding the deal is likely to appear soon.

Philips Hue Light Bulbs

At $200 for a package, Philips Hue Light Bulbs might not be the most affordable gadget on this list, but if you can afford it, the Hue is extremely useful. Like any old light bulb, the Hue can screw in anywhere, but that’s where the regularity begins and ends. Hue can be programmed through an app to flash when you get an urgent email, Facebook notification or get mentioned in a tweet. But that's not all the Philips Hue can assist you with. When you walk in the door, Hue can sense your phone and automatically turn the light on. It also changes colors at will to create scenes like "energize" or "concentrate" and lasts up to 5 years before you need to change it. In all, Hue is pretty useful, convenient and fun -- it’s just not the most thrift-conscious buy on the list.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BlackBerry puts the squeeze on leakers

BlackBerry’s new boss has warned that he will do anything to stop leaks of its products, including pressing criminal charges.
John Chen, who took over the beleaguered company in November, has threatened both leakers and the media with criminal proceedings if they report on any “critical and confidential project” until BlackBerry is ready to discuss it.

He described the leaks as both “distracting” and “misleading”. He said that it harmed stakeholders’ ability to properly understand what the company was doing as said that they are “seldom advantageous” for business.

“I recognise that, in some cases, the leaks reflect people’s genuine interest in BlackBerry,” Chen wrote in a post via BlackBerry’s official blog.

"There are a lot of people whose enthusiasm for our company and our products makes them want to know what we will do next — and that can be a tremendous asset for us as a brand.

“But, when curiosity turns to criminality, we must take strong action.”

He said that BlackBerry will now “take appropriate actions to prevent leaks from happening”. According to Chen, the company is already pursuing legal action against an individual for leaking information.

Chen admitted the company’s new approach would probably leak to fewer “blog posts with photos and rumours of the next BlackBerry smartphones”.

It is unlikely that Chen would have any success in suing publications as he has threatened.

In 1996, the Appellate Court in the United States ruled in a similar case brought by Apple that trade secrets are fair game for journalists – both offline and online – to report on.

In other words, don’t expect the rumour stories to stop flowing anytime soon.

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