Ed Oswald

Bluesmart debuts its intelligent 21st Century suitcase

Bluesmart

There are a few things that annoy the modern jet-setter more than anything. It is those pesky baggage restrictions for some. For others, it’s the airline’s uncanny ability to lose your luggage at the most inopportune times. Or maybe its those pesky TSA security lines or a lack of power outlets to charge your electronic devices.

Bluesmart Technologies wants to solve those problems in a new high-tech carry-on suitcase, and from the looks of it, the traveling public is ready to give the firm their hard-earned money.

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Apple Pay really is that easy, and game changing

Apple pay

When Tim Cook stood on stage last month to introduce Apple Pay, the typically reserved chief executive could barely contain his excitement. A video plays with a woman in a shoe store. She pulls out her shiny new iPhone 6, places her finger on the Touch ID sensor, taps it on the NFC receiver, and walks out with her purchase. "That’s it!" Cook exclaims. "That’s it!"

Cook’s reaction was over the top, of course -- which some of us argue is modus operandi for any Apple keynote -- but it certainly signals the promise of NFC and is an example of how Apple Pay will streamline and advance mobile payments from here on out. Is it really as simple as it looks? I can tell you it is. Following the release of Apple Pay with iOS 8.1 on Monday, I set out to test it on the vending machines at work. Indeed, it's as simple as the demo showed. All you need to do is pull up Passbook, tap the card you’d like to use, put your thumb on the Touch ID button and place it near the receiver.

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Five things to hate about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

iphone-6 unhappy

Second in a series. Yesterday we gave a rundown of five things to love about Apple’s new iPhone lineup. We pointed to the design, the screen, a better camera, choice in size, and NFC as some of the highlights.

I’m willing to wager this post is the one you all are waiting for given the patterns of BetaNews commenters, though. No doubt even some of the Apple faithful will admit the device is far from perfect. So, what bothers us about the new iPhones?

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Five things to love about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Love iphone

First in a series. Now that the initial excitement surrounding the launch of the new iPhones has calmed down, most of us new iPhone owners have had a chance to play around with our new devices a bit.

So what’s there to love about the iPhone 6 lineup? What do we hate? In this first article we’ll take a look at the positives. No doubt, ten million phones sold over the weekend indicate that most consider this a significant step forward for the iPhone itself, so I think it’s only fair to you and Apple to wax poetic about the good things first. Note this is not a review, but more just musings on the device itself. Every tech publication known to man has already written how "game-changing" and  "revolutionary" it is, so here we’re going to give equal time to both the fanboys and naysayers. Both camps have valid points.

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Wearable tech: Where do we draw the line?

wearables

Wearable tech is back in the forefront with the release of the Apple Watch. Apple’s entrant is sure to help the sector overall, with expectations of tens if not hundreds of millions of devices to ship annually from Apple and others by the end of the decade.

This success does not come without its share of questions, however. Unlike our cell phones, tablets, and video game consoles, this new class of devices are different. For a lack of a better way to say it, they are a part of you. Its use carries significant societal and moral implications.

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Apple's next big thing is even bigger for Invensense

Apple Watch

Analysts and the Apple faithful alike fawned over the new device when Apple introduced the Apple Watch on Tuesday, the company’s first new product of the Cook era. However, if you’re one to believe rumors, an upstart company called Invensense may stand to gain the most from Apple’s latest device.

An increasing amount of evidence now suggests that the San Jose, Calif. based company stands to cash in on the Apple Watch, as it is believed that Invensense is supplying Apple with the components necessary to power the Apple Watch’s most compelling features.

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Microsoft, Oracle and others side with Apple over US iPhone 4 ban

iPhone 4

Representatives of several companies are asking the Obama Administration to intervene in a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung that resulted in a ban of the sale of older iPhones in the US.

The International Trade Commission ruled last month that Apple infringed on patents owned by Samsung, and ordered a ban on the sale of the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4 in the country beginning August 4. Of those devices, only one is now sold. The effect on Apple’s business is likely to be considerable however, given that the iPhone 4 is now free with contract through most of its US partners.

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FISA court orders allow data storage without a warrant

data center

A set of two FISA court orders leaked on Thursday indicate that surveillance agencies can store data it has collected for up to five years, even on those not suspected of any crime.

The latest revelations indicate that the secretive court gives the NSA broad powers to maintain a database of information regardless of how the agency maintained it. This includes data that is "inadvertently" collected as part of a broader investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on both orders in April 2009, indicating the storage of data has likely occurred for at least four years, if not longer.

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NSA phone tracking to be scaled back, says official

NSAPhoneTracking

The NSA expects to scale back its phone tracking program in the near future, the agency’s director says. The comments came as part of a broader hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee over the recent disclosures of NSA activities.

Director Gen. Keith Alexander told California Rep. Adam Schiff during questioning that his agency and the FBI are reviewing how the phone tracking program might be changed. Currently, the NSA asks only for the metadata -- general information about the call like phone numbers, duration, and location -- whether the person is suspected of terrorism or not, and en masse.

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Edward Snowden -- A fine line between hero and traitor

070990-nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden

The South China Morning Post is the next stop on Snowden’s media tour. Not to discuss the NSA’s surveillance on American citizens, but the agency’s work in China. You read that right, that’s not a typo.

Snowden tells the (semi) independent Hong Kong paper that the NSA’s PRISM program is used against companies and people within China, and that the US government is and has been hacking into computers in both China and Hong Kong for at least four years.

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Your Fourth Amendment rights don't apply to Facebook

law book gavel

Last week, a federal district court made a ruling that has broad implications for your privacy on Facebook. The end result is that you should be much more careful about what you share on Facebook with whom, because regardless of whether your profile is private or not, the Federal Government can use your friends to gather evidence against you, which in turn can be used against you in a court of law.

This is what happened to accused gangster Melvin Colon. The Bronx, N.Y. man used his Facebook to brag about his apparent exploits, which according to reports included messages of loyalty to his gang, posts on violent acts and threats to other people. The US Government was then able to find a friend who worked against Colon, and allowed law enforcement to use his or her Facebook to gather evidence.

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Toshiba bows out of Windows RT, Microsoft works damage control

toshiba portables laptops notebooks

Toshiba is the third Microsoft OEM to pass on Windows RT, saying Tuesday that it has cancelled all plans for devices based on the platform for the foreseeable future. The announcement follows the very public comments of Acer CEO JT Wang, whose comments on Surface suggest his company isn't interested either, and a similar move by HP back in June.

"Toshiba has decided not to introduce Windows RT models due to delayed components that would make a timely launch impossible. For the time being, Toshiba will focus on bringing Windows 8 products to market", a company spokesperson tells BetaNews.

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AT&T begins giving 'Early iPhone Discount' to select customers

iPhone 4S

With iPhone 5's launch presumably close, and the 4S itself being discounted at carriers and retailers (and Apple, too, if you ask), AT&T now offers an early discount to smartphone customers ahead of the launch of the next model.

AT&T smartphone customers are being extended the same benefit that iPhone 3GS customers received in 2010 ahead of the launch of the iPhone 4, and some iPhone 4 customers saw ahead of the iPhone 4S announcement. As was the case previously, getting the special pricing requires a new two-year contract.

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Red Hat's OpenStack preview debuts, supported version due in 2013

servers cloud

Red Hat released a preview of its OpenStack cloud platform, and says a fully supported version will debut in 2013. The move puts the open-source software company in direct competition with Citrix and its CloudStack offering, a move aimed to solidify its position in the cloud computing industry.

The company's software joins at least two other enterprise-grade OpenStack distributions: Piston Computing's Enterprise OpenStack, and another called Nebula, which was created by OpenStack cofounder Chris Kemp. Nebula will debut within the next several months.

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Apple price matches iPhone, but it's nothing new -- should you wait anyway?

money shred cash

Here come the iPhone price cuts. With the launch of the iPhone 5 likely a little over a month away, retailers are beginning to drop prices on iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models in stock in order to make way for the new device.

There's a key difference here over previous pricing changes, and that's the adjustments are originating with the carriers first and trickling down to retailers. AT&T and Verizon's pricing on the iPhone 4 and 4S remain at $99 and $199 for the 16GB model: however Sprint has lowered the price of the 4S to $149.99.

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