Latest Technology News

Holiday 2015 Gift Guide: Smartphones

Santa Claus

If you're smartphone shopping this holiday and wondering what to buy, my primer can assist—with caveats. I focus solely on Androids that are higher end but affordable, and I ignore iPhones. No slight against Apple devices is intended. I figure that people who want an iPhone won't likely consider an alternative. Also: The differences aren't as pronounced. For example, the major benefit choosing 6s or 6s Plus over the two previous models is slightly lower price (3D Touch is an unnecessary gimmick). The major benefit picking 5s over the 6 or 6 Plus is again price but also smaller size.

Among Androids, differences abound—and many, such as older OS versions or custom UI skins, are carrier or manufacturer imposed. That's without considering the bloatware that either or both parties might impose. I intentionally focus on devices that offer the most value for price paid, which includes upfront or payment-plan purchased unlocked.

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Amazon Echo introduces IFTTT trigger phrases

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo continues to gain functionality, utilizing music apps like Pandora, TuneIn and, as well as, of course, Amazon Prime music. There's also a growing list of home automation integration which allows customers to control devices by voice. You can even control your second-generation Fire TV -- first-generation is coming soon, or so Amazon has told me.

Now the company is introducing trigger phrases for IFTTT events and it also works into the home integration slant, though there can be other uses.

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Is home automation in your future or are you using it now?

home automation

Home automation gets touted by some as the future, but it's really the now. A seemingly endless list of products are on the market and they allow the user to lock doors, turn lights on and off, open and close shades, there's even a crockpot that can be turned on and off from anywhere.

For a while now I have been controlling some lights with Amazon Echo. It's mostly good, but every once in a while the hub between Alexa and the bulbs needs to be reset. I've also been using the Mivatek Smart Plug to control another light. Therein lies the problem -- a lack of these things working together. Most are trying to, but the integration isn't there yet.

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FSS ePub Reader silently installs adware?


FreeSmartSoft is the developer of a range of popular Windows freeware, including FSS Video Downloader, FSS Google Books Downloader, FSS ePub Reader and more.

You’ve installed one of their packages before? Then beware: we’ve discovered they have a mechanism that can silently install adware on a user’s PC.

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Security breaches don't lead to a change in IT policy

Cyber attack

A survey conducted by training company QA, reveals that eight out of ten (81 percent) UK IT decision makers experienced some sort of data or cyber security breach in their organization in 2015. Sixty-six percent said that the breach had led to a loss of data, 45 percent said that it had resulted in a loss of revenue, and 42 percent said that it had resulted in a PR nightmare for the business.

Despite this, however, less than a third (27 percent) plan to invest in cyber security technologies next year. It would also appear that not all organizations have learnt from their experience, with less than half (43 percent) of IT decision makers saying that the breach had not resulted in a change of policy and procedure.

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VTech Learning Lodge hacked! Your child's identity could be at risk


When a company gets hacked, and its data is breached, it is hardly news anymore. What I mean is, it is so prevalent nowadays, that we are becoming desensitized to it. I personally received a letter regarding the OPM hack today -- yes, I am apparently a victim. If I can't trust the government to secure my data, who the hell can I trust?

Today, yet another company experiences a breach -- VTech. What makes this hack particularly devious and upsetting, is that children are impacted. Sadly, the company's "Learning Lodge", an online digital store for kids, has been compromised by evil-doers. Your child will now get a strong dose of reality -- nothing is safe online, and now their identities are at risk.

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Samsung's first 128 GB DDR4 RAM modules for servers go into production

Samsung 128GB RAM

Samsung has announced that it is starting mass production of the industry’s first "through silicon via" (TSV) 128GB DDR4 memory modules for high-end enterprise and data centre servers.

This news follows on from its successful introduction of the 64GB 3D TSV DDR4 DRAM last year, which was an industry first.

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Lenovo fixes two security vulnerabilities in its preloaded Windows tools


Lenovo has issued a patch which fixes vulnerabilities located in the software which comes preloaded with some of the laptops it sells.

The company recently released version 5.07.0019 of Lenovo System Update. This tool is made to keep the BIOS and drivers updated, previously called ThinkVantage System Update.

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Act now and get a major discount on unlimited Amazon Cloud storage

Cloud access

I'm likely preaching to the choir when I say all data should be backed up, in fact it's best to have it in two places -- one local and one off site in case of disaster. Off-site can mean several things, but the increasingly popular choice is the cloud and there are many choices for that.

Now Amazon has an offer you may not be able to refuse. Get unlimited cloud storage space for a year. The price? A mere $5. In addition customers can also choose unlimited photo storage for a year at only $1. Those are both great deals given what they regularly retail for --$59.99 for data storage, though if you're a Prime customer then you already have the unlimited photo storage.

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Wi-Fi Barbie could be putting your kids at risk

Hello Barbie

The latest Wi-Fi enabled Hello Barbie dolls could be putting your children at risk according to security researchers.

Using a combination of speech recognition technology and wireless connection Hello Barbie provides, " engaging and unique Barbie experience," according to manufacturer Mattel.

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A close look at the Windows Phone landscape in November 2015


Windows 10 Mobile is already running on seven percent of compatible Windows Phone devices, according to a new report from ad network AdDuplex, ahead of the official roll-out. The new smartphone operating system from Microsoft has reached this distribution level thanks to pre-release builds installed by enthusiasts who joined the Windows Insider program.

Windows 10 Mobile is currently the third most popular release of Windows on smartphones, after Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Phone 8. But there's a long way to the top for the new kid on the block as the current leader, Windows Phone 8.1, powers 78.9 percent of all Windows smartphones.

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NirSoft releases MMCSnapInsView 1.0


NirSoft has released MMCSnapInsView, a free portable tool which provides details on all the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins installed on your PC.

Snap-ins are the Windows components behind many system administration tools -- Event Viewer, Device Manager, Task Scheduler and more -- although they’re also included with some third-party applications.

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Best Windows apps this week


One-hundred and fifty-six in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps and games released for Windows 8.x and Windows 10 in the past seven days.

No application of the week award this time unfortunately. Some good apps and games were released this week nevertheless. Check out Monster Buster: World Invasion, or Board Defender if you like strategy and puzzle games, or 22Tracks, Moodflow or Cast for some unique music apps and a great podcast manager.

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Combating insider threats: The pillars of an effective program

Insider threat

Insider threats can be the most dangerous threats to an organization -- and they’re difficult to detect through standard information security methods. That’s partially because the majority of employees unknowingly pose a risk while performing their regular business activities.

According to data we collected from analyzing the behaviors of more than a million insiders across organizations, in approximately 90 percent of data loss prevention incidents, the employees are legitimate users who innocently send out data for business purposes. They are exhibiting normal behavior to their peers and department, even though it might be in violation of the established business policy and a significant risk to their employer.

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Dell announces Datacenter Scalable Solutions server line

servers cloud

In an effort to expand its share of the server market, Dell has announced today that it will be launching a new line of servers targeting companies that do not require the server volume of a hyperscale data center.

Instead, Dell will be catering to companies involved in web technology, telecommunications, hosting, utilities such as oil and gas, and research institutions. Dell hopes to meet the unique needs of companies in these fields with its Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DDS) units.

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