Mihaita Bamburic

Interested in encrypting your data? Here's what you need to know [infographic]

padlock box secure

There is more than one way to keep your data safe from prying eyes, but the practice that is most recommended is still the use of encryption. It will ensure that only you will be able to access personal information, requiring a decryption key to unlock your data. Proving just how effective it can be, the US government basically wants both Apple and Google to allow it to bypass the encryption in the latest versions of their mobile operating systems, namely iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop, respectively, because currently it is unable to directly access that data.

However, there are quite a few things that you should also know about encryption before you decide to go down this road. To learn more about what encryption entails, you can check out the following infographic, called "Protected: A Beginner's Guide To Encryption".

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Microsoft introduces beta Gestures app for Lumia Windows Phones

Microsoft Gestures beta Windows Phone

Windows Phone started off as an easy to use smartphone operating system without many bells and whistles. Over the years, it has picked up more and more advanced features, reaching the point where it can now hold its own in a comparison against main rivals, Android and iOS. And Microsoft keeps adding to the list.

One area where Windows Phones have struggled -- against Android rivals -- is gesture-based features, like the ability to answer a call by holding the phone to the ear. (You can find that on some old Android devices, like Samsung Galaxy S3.) It is not a major feature by any means, but it is nice to have. Well, Microsoft is trying to catch up by introducing a new app, called Gestures, which enables (more) gesture-based features.

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Nokia's HERE responsible for Baidu's maps outside of China

Baidu China HERE Nokia

Detailing a partnership that was made public today, Finnish company Nokia revealed that its HERE division will provide maps to Chinese Internet services provider Baidu to use outside of its home market.

Normally, such an announcement would hardly garner any attention. However, it makes Baidu the first Chinese company that will offer location-based services to Chinese residents who are traveling abroad. That's a big deal. And Nokia is at the center of it.

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Seagate's 8TB Archive HDD ships in January, and I want one!

Seagate 8 TB Archive

I am a huge, huge fan of SSDs. They're blazing-fast, resistant to external shocks and, let's not forget, they are also energy-efficient. What's not to love about that? They're, quite frankly, the only storage solutions I want to use in my laptops, and the only type of storage solutions I can wholeheartedly recommend. (You can probably tell just how excited I am about SSDs, right?)

But, there are two (some might say major) downsides to SSDs, which go hand in hand: cost and capacity. To get a decently-sized SSD, one has to spend considerably more than for a HDD of the same capacity. In fact, the difference is huge. For instance, a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD goes for around $50 on Amazon, while an SSD of the same capacity from Samsung (840 EVO family) costs around $420, on the same site. Also, SSDs don't usually go above the 1 TB mark, which makes them a poor choice for large file storage. That's where a HDD shines. And what better HDD to use for, let's say, long-term storage of movie collections than the soon-to-ship 8 TB Seagate Archive?

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United Airlines to equip more than 23,000 flight attendants with iPhone 6 Plus

United Airlines iPhone 6 Plus

Whenever I read about a company deploying a certain number of smartphones for internal use, it is usually Windows Phones which are given to employees. And Microsoft is the company that proudly does the official announcement on behalf of (or together with) its customer. This time around things are (very) different.

US airline United Airlines has announced that it will deploy iPhone 6 Plus to over 23,000 flight attendants, with the initial goal of giving them the ability to access company resources -- like email, Intranet, policies, and procedures manuals -- and also to handle retail transactions during flights.

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Xiaomi infringes Ericsson patents in India, local court bans sales until February 2015


Xiaomi has enjoyed great success in its home market of China, becoming the largest vendor in the country in Q2 2014, beating Samsung for the title. The company also was the third-largest smartphone maker worldwide in Q3 2014. And things appear to only be looking up for Xiaomi, with shipments expected to grow at a still rapid pace.

One of the reasons why Xiaomi has managed to reach the top spot in its home country is the permissive local legal system, in relation to patents. The company hasn't really been challenged locally by any of the big non-Chinese players, as quite likely any suits filed against it for patent infringement would be lost by the plaintiffs. Western companies have been dealing with this problem for (too) many years. However, as Xiaomi expands into India, it has to deal with a different legal system, one which just sided with Ericsson in a case of patent infringement. The outcome?

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Nokia brings HERE to Google Play, will launch iOS version early next year

Nokia HERE Android Galaxy Note 4 Samsung BMW

For Nokia to get any real traction with HERE outside of Windows Phone and its former brands, the Finnish company must make its app available to as many potential new users as possible. And that means offering it on the biggest mobile app stores around today -- Apple App Store and Google Play.

Today, Nokia is taking a step in the right direction by making HERE for Android available on Google Play. The app's availability on the largest Android app store comes more than three months after the initial launch, for Galaxy smartphones. HERE still sports the beta label, but continues to offer the same lovely features we have come to expect from it.

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Apple releases iOS 8.1.2 -- it's as minor as small updates come

Apple pushes iOS 8.1.1 update to speed up older iPhones and iPads

Even though iOS 8.0 has received four updates since launching in mid-September, which have introduced new features, but also squashed quite a few (nasty) bugs, the latest incarnation of the popular mobile operating system still has its fair share of issues. To change that, Apple just introduced iOS 8.1.2.

Maybe fifth time's the charm, right? Well, that depends on what sort of issues you have been having, even while on iOS 8.1.1, because, according to the information provided by Apple, this update only fixes a single noteworthy problem.

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HERE online gets new features, Windows Phone apps receive update

HERE.com new

What is Nokia doing after ditching phone-making? The Finnish company is focusing its efforts on more lucrative endeavors, like HERE. Even though nowadays the brand is mostly associated with Windows Phone, Nokia also brought its well-known mapping software to Android and ramped up its efforts to make the web version more attractive as well.

The result of the company's work to improve the online version of HERE is said to be "a better, faster and stronger here.com", which packs some interesting, value-adding new features. However, there is also something in store (no pun intended) for Windows Phone users, in the form of an update which is available for HERE apps on the platform.

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Xbox Video for Windows 8.1 can now play MKV files

Xbox Video Windows 8.1

If you are running Windows 8.1 and have a collection of videos in the MKV format, then you are most likely using desktop software like VLC, or a third-party Store app to watch them. You are forced to, because Xbox Video, the Modern UI video player that Microsoft bundles with the operating system, doesn't support MKVs. Well, that just changed.

Microsoft has updated Xbox Video for Windows 8.1 to introduce support for MKV video playback. The latest version of the app -- 2.6.0432.0 -- also packs a couple of fixes that improve the functionality of certain features.

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BlackBerry releases Passport in red, white

Red BlackBerry Passport

More than two months after it introduced Passport in black, BlackBerry today announces that its latest smartphone is now also available in red and white. The two new color options were introduced for pre-order in late-November, but are only just now shipping.

Both the red and white Passport are officially available from Amazon and BlackBerry's own online store. Both companies list the smartphone as being in stock; taking the Amazon route coupled with one-day shipping will get you a new Passport tomorrow, December 9.

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Modern SSDs can last a lifetime

SSD storage

Anyone buying a new PC or laptop today should get it with an SSD, or replace the HDD with one immediately after. The performance difference is huge, most noticeable in terms of responsiveness, software launch times, booting, loading information, but also when it comes to transferring files internally. An SSD will make any new device feel extremely fast, even if it is among the least-expensive PCs or laptops on the market.

Swapping the HDD with an SSD is the best thing one can do to increase performance, dramatically, also for an older PC or laptop, where the performance difference will be even more dramatic. A six-year old HP laptop that I have feels every bit as fast as any modern equivalent, in day to day use, thanks to an SSD upgrade I performed two years ago. However, there is a catch with using SSDs and that is their seemingly short lifespan. Very old SSDs are expected to not last as long as HDDs, the latter of which benefit from a more mature technology. So how do newer SSDs -- the ones that you are most likely to find and buy today -- fare?

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iPhone 6 Plus accounts for 41 percent of phablet sales in US


Most consumers who buy one of Apple's latest smartphones end up with the smaller model. In fact, iPhone 6 is outselling its bigger brother, iPhone 6 Plus, by a ratio of three to one in US, and an even higher ratio of four to one in Britain. However, Apple shouldn't be worried that its first phablet is nowhere near as popular as the "standard" iPhone 6.

That is because iPhone 6 Plus is actually a hugely popular device in its category, accounting for 41 percent of phablet sales in US in the three months ending October 2014, despite being on sale only from mid-September onwards. What does that mean in the grand scheme of things?

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Samsung rolls out Android 5.0 Lollipop update for Galaxy S5


Samsung is not as fast as rival makers HTC or Motorola when it comes to rolling out software upgrades to the latest version of Android, but the company appears to be finally cleaning up its act. Not too long after Google released Android 5.0, Lollipop is now available for Galaxy S5.

The epicenter for the Android 5.0 Lollipop roll-out is Poland, a market Samsung has frequently used to commence roll-outs of new major software upgrades. The company is currently targeting users of the SM-G900F version of Galaxy S5, which, as some of you may know, is the model featuring a Qualcomm processor (Snapdragon 801).

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iPhone 6 is a huge hit

iPhone 6

Apple will have a record quarter for iPhone sales, if analyst estimates are to be believed. The company is expected to ship more than 70 million units in the last part of the year, nearly 20 million units more than the 51 million units it moved a year ago. It wouldn't surprise anyone if these estimates turn out to be accurate, considering the successful launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coupled with the high consumer demand for the two devices across the globe.

Today, research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech adds more credence to the estimates. Its latest report, on the three months ending October 2014, reveals record market share for Apple's smartphones in Britain, strong performance in continental Europe, and marginal improvements in market share in US and China.

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