Thursday, May 30, 2013

Looking for the start button on your Windows 8 computer? Keep looking because Microsoft has rejected the idea in the latest update.

When Microsoft rolls out Windows 8.1, the update to its struggling, 7-month-old operating system franchise, the company will not be bringing back the Start button as many users have been requesting.

But the company has acquiesced some. The company announced this morning that it will introduce something that a person close to Windows engineering is calling a "Start tip" that users can click on to go back to the Start screen in Windows 8.1. The "tip" is a Windows logo that that sits on the left hand side of the toolbar when Windows 8 users are working in the traditional desktop mode. When they are using the touch-focused tile-based interface, users will have to hover over the lower left corner for the "tip" to pop up.

But clicking on the "tip" won't launch the familiar menus that the Start button did in previous versions of Windows. Instead, it will take users to their Start screen. With Windows 8.1, users can customize that Start screen to replicate something close to the old Start menus, listing all of the applications that are available to them, if they want.

It's unclear if the Start tip will be enough to quiet critics who are clamoring for the ease of use that comes with familiarity. The Start tip is a bit of a half-step toward a Start button. Microsoft seems to be giving a nod to its critics but not quite giving them all they had wanted.

Earlier this month, Tami Reller, the chief marketing officer and chief financial officer of the Windows division, told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley that the company is being "principled, not stubborn" about modifying Windows 8 based on user feedback.

Source: CNET

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Google will bring the Internet to hard to reach locations in Africa and Asia via Wi-Fi blimps.

How can the Internet be brought to areas that have no infrastructure for high-speed wireless? Beam the Wi-Fi networks down from flying objects, of course.

Google is reportedly working on creating wireless networks for more remote parts of the world, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, with sky-bound balloons and blimps, according to Wired.

Dubbed "high-altitude platforms," these mechanisms will reportedly be able to connect roughly a billion more people to the Internet worldwide, according to Wired. The blimps signals are said to be able to reach people in areas that are hundreds of square miles.

Source: CNET, Wired

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A lesson in social media marketing, courtesy of Amazon's latest failure.

What's the first lesson of social media? Know what you're posting!

Amazon Student recently found themselves in a situation where a post about "manscaping" was created to promote a new grooming store. Probably unknown to Amazon at the time of the posting, the word manscape is defined as: "A term used to define male grooming below the belt". However, in the following 6 hours, nearly 70 people commented with a snarky response. (Some of which are below).

So, what's the lesson to be learned here? Be sure the person in charge of your social media is up to date with the latest slang of your target audience.

Amazon Student on "manscaping" - marketing fail.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Microsoft scores a slam dunk for Windows 8 tablets as Siri slams the iPad in a new ad.

In the latest Windows 8 news, Microsoft has shifted gears to take aim at Apple.

In this new 30 second ad, you see Siri taken hostage and forced to tell the truth...The truth as Microsoft sees it, that is.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 to come preloaded with LoJack & recovery service.

There are apps and settings to locate a lost or stolen smartphone, and to remotely wipe the contents, but those will only get you so far if your phone's actually been nabbed.

On Tuesday, LoJack for Laptops maker Absolute Software announced the imminent release of LoJack for Android smartphones, starting with Samsung's Galaxy S4.

In the event that your smartphone disappears, through your own carelessness or malicious intent, LoJack's software offers remote locking and deleting to keep your photos, passwords, and other sensitive information private.

However, what you really pay for is the company's team of cybercrime-cracking "recovery specialists" who will attempt to go out and retrieve your absconded-with phone.

LoJack will be embedded in the Galaxy S4's firmware layer, where it remains dormant until you awaken it with a monthly subscription that becomes your theft insurance - pricing starts at $29.99 per year for subscriptions that range from one to four years. Even if robbers wipe your phone to the factory settings, LoJack is still active, and unremovable.

LoJack for Android phones becomes available early this summer.

Source: CNET

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If you thought your toilet was full of germs...wait until you see this!

At 25,107 bacterias per square inch, you phone...yes, your beloved cell dirtier than these 5 objects! Hard to believe, isn't it?

  Bacteria Per Square Inch
toilet seat
kitchen counter
 pet food dish
checkout screen
door knob

Monday, May 20, 2013

New DVD campaign by Domino's pizza.

Chances are, if you're having a movie night, there could be pizza involved. But that means an actual edible pizza -- not a DVD that happens to smell like one.

Domino's Brazil has teamed up with 10 video rental stores to create DVDs with a heady pizza scent, all thanks to thermal ink. When the DVD is finished, an image of a pizza appears on it.

As soon as the disks get hot when played, they start to smell like Domino's. After the DVD is ejected, special thermal ink has turned the disk into a mini pizza that reads: "Did you enjoy the movie? The next one will be even better with a hot and delicious Domino's Pizza."

Congratulations on an extremely successful promotion, Domino's!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Looking for a personal drone? Look no further!

Imagine carving your way down a particularly challenging slope, your skis kicking up clouds of snow, trees flying by, your death-defying stunts captured perfectly on camera. And you're all by yourself.

How would you pull off such a feat?

Short of those with a film crew on hand, or at least a buddy with a GoPro camera tracking your every move, it's hard to imagine it being possible at all, let alone while you're alone.

But you may not have to imagine it for long...

Next week, a startup called Universal Air will finish shipping out its entry level R10 quadrotors, a drone whose advertised combination of low price, reliability, and durability inspired more than 400 people to fund the company's Kickstarter campaign to the tune of almost 15 times its financial goal. UAir, as it's known, had hoped to raise $15,000 and ship 30 R10's, according to co-founder Max Bruner, but ended up bringing in $220,000 and facing one of the problems many super-successful Kickstarter projects experience: the inability to quickly satisfy demand.

Bruner said that the R10 was initially meant to be a prototype, but with so much interest, UAir had no choice but to ramp up to a production-quality drone. And now, those who ordered the UAV will soon be getting their hands on an aircraft said to be ideal for allowing amateur photographers and videographers to shoot from the air, yet which users can fly with an Xbox controller or an RC transmitter.

Cool as the R10 might be, though, it's not up to the task of autonomously tracking you while you barrel down a ski slope.

But while the R10 is meant to appeal because of its low price and its durability, UAir is hoping that initial UAV is just the beginning. The company is readying its next drone, a slick and easy-to-use aircraft expected to go on sale in July that stands apart from competing consumer products like the Parrot AR Drone, and a number of expensive hobbyist kits with more functionality, by offering both a low price and the ability to carry a payload like a GoPro camera. The Parrot, by comparison, shoots HD video with a built-in camera, and Bruner believes users are going to want better optics than that, but without paying the hefty prices of more sophisticated but harder-to-use hobbyist rigs.

Yet UAir's ultimate product isn't its next drone. Rather, it's the UAV the company hopes to get off the ground sometime in the first half of 2014. That, said Bruner, will be a fully-autonomous quadrotor aimed at the adventure sports market. The idea? Allow someone to go skiing, or rock climbing, or high-diving, and know that their drone is following them the whole way, thanks to an on-board tracking beacon, shooting HD photos or videos the entire time.

As with the current-gen Parrot AR Drone 2.0, UAir's future UAV is expected to feature Wi-Fi connectivity that allows a user to take the drone with them and count on it staying close by, regardless of whether or not there's an accessible Internet connection. As long as a user can establish a Wi-Fi connection between their mobile phone and the drone, "you're good to go," Bruner said.

Surveillance but not invasion of privacy

Like many drone makers, UAir UAVs make surveillance easy. But Bruner said a combination of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration restrictions and the company's own concerns about privacy invasions led it to focus on Wi-Fi as a connectivity technology. That's because, he said, using Wi-Fi means that the drones are limited to being within line of sight of the user. That doesn't fully preclude snooping, of course, but it makes it a bit harder.

Still, even with that limit on how far away a user can be from the drone, UAir thinks its products are going to be popular with industry.

Although UAir is clearly planning on being a player in the consumer drone market, Bruner said that another big part of its business is to provide surveillance services to a wide range of industries. That's why Bruner said UAir's real business isn't selling drones, but rather a platform built to make it easy for the startup to nurture relationships with commercial partners.

Clearly, the company wants to make inroads with the photography and videography communities, but UAir is also hoping it can convince those in other industries -- such as mining, farming, or insurance, to name a few -- to get on board. And part of its pitch is that the drones, while designed to carry cameras, can also carry a range of sensor packages purpose-built for industry. So, for example, Bruner imagines the company's drones being used for things like overflights of mines to look for environmental impacts; low-cost home roof inspections; and even crop fertilization. "We think there's a whole [software as a service] market," Bruner said.

Others think so too. Airware, a recent alumni of the prestigious Silicon Valley incubator, Y Combinator, is also pursuing a drone platform strategy. But that company doesn't plan on selling UAVs itself.

As such, UAir could have an advantage selling on both sides of the business. And it's also considering a series of data analytics tools that can help its clients better understand their businesses. "We might be giving a farmer more information about when and where to fertilize crops," Bruner said. "Drones are the beginning of the autonomous services market. There's a whole new market out there. We're just in the infancy of service robotics."

Source: CNET

Friday, May 10, 2013

FBI issues cyber security advisory that could impact all users of Microsoft Explorer 8.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) is urging all consumers and businesses to pay close attention to a Cyber Security Advisory issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 browser (IE8) that could allow scammers to access and take over users’ computers. The risk for all users – home, business and government – is high, and BBB is urging anyone with IE8 to follow the recommended steps to address the problem.

The problem was first announced yesterday, and last night Microsoft released a temporary fix.
Here is the original overview from the FBI:
“A vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer, which could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system. Exploitation may occur if a user visits or is redirected to a web page which is specifically crafted to take advantage of the vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could result in an attacker gaining the same privileges as the logged on user. Depending on the privileges associated with the user, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Failed exploit attempts may result in a denial-of-service condition.”
Microsoft today released a workaround which acts as a temporary fix. It is available at: The company is working on a patch to undo the vulnerability, which does not affect other versions of IE.
“BBB recommends that everyone with Internet Explorer 8 apply the temporary fix immediately,” said Ben Steinberg, Chief Information Officer of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “If you are not sure which version you have, try running the fix. If you don’t have IE8, the fix will stop running and let you know that your system is not at risk. Microsoft will let you know when the patch is available, and you need to download that as soon as it is.”
For more details and the fix, go to:

Source: BBB

Ever dreamt that you were a superhero? Here's your chance!

A group of students at the Royal College of Art in London have created two masks that can give you superhuman sight and hearing.

The first prototype covers the wearer's ears, mouth and nose and uses a directional microphone to give him the ability to hear an isolated sound in a noisy environment. For example, you could target a person in a crowd and clearly hear his words without the surrounding noise.
The other prototype is worn over one's eyes. A camera captures video and sends it to a computer, which can apply a set of effects to it in real-time and send it back to the wearer. One can, for example, use it to see movement patterns, similar to the effects of long-exposure photography.
The team behind project Eidos — Tim Bouckley, Millie Clive-Smith, Mi Eun Kim and Yuta Sugawara — see many possible applications of this technology. For example, one could use the visual mask it to analyze movement and technique in sports. In another example, concert-goers could use the hearing mask to focus on a certain performer at a concert.
Source: CNN

Thursday, May 9, 2013

3-D printers are now available!

Staples says it is the first major US retailer to sell a 3-D printer. It began selling The Cube, made by 3D Systems, on Friday, and the printer will hit "many" of the retailer's brick-and-mortar stores by June.

While 3-D printers have long been used in industrial manufacturing, a recent "maker" movement is slowly popularizing in-home versions of the devices.

The Cube, like other 3-D printers, is a machine that creates physical, three-dimensional objects. The printer uses a digital design file as a blueprint, then builds the item layer by layer with plastic. Users can print anything they can design, including action figures, iPhone docks and coffee cup holder.

While many 3-D printer owners may be using the devices to prototype inventions or simply have fun making plastic toys, other industries are tapping into the printers' potential. Chefs are using the printers to create intricately designed food. Doctors are even experimenting with advanced versions of the machines to make artificial organs and prosthetic limbs.

Source: CNN

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This is either really creepy, really cool, or just an invastion of privacy...

We can't help but leave our DNA all over the place. If you drop a chewed piece of gum or a cigarette butt, it might get picked up by artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg. She may mine it for DNA, analyze the results, and generate a portrait based on the data. That's either really creepy, really cool, or a major invasion of privacy.

Dewey-Hagborg's Stranger Visions project combines artistry and science while raising questions about genetic privacy. She starts by collecting genetic material from public places. She then analyzes it at a lab, mining the DNA for information like gender, ethnicity, and eye color.

The data is then fed into a custom computer program that translates the information into a 3D model of a face. That model is printed out in color using a ZCorp 3D printer. The results are disembodied faces, but they aren't exact copies of the person who dropped the DNA. Dewey-Hagborg describes it as a "family resemblance."

Stranger Visions all began with Dewey-Hagborg contemplating a stranger's stray hair. Combined with her viewing of forensics television programs like "CSI," and an interest in the issue of genetic surveillance, the artist decided to create the 3D portraits. It's a particularly unusual version of found art.

This should be enough to make you think twice about spitting a piece of gum out the window next time.

Souce: CNET

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

SNL takes on the new Google Glass.

Talk about a funny promotion for Google Glass...all the way from SNL!

You know you've made the big time when Saturday Night Live parodies your product. On last weekend's show, Fred Armisen demonstrated Google Glass, the all-the-rage wearable computer the tech giant with the help of volunteers. Let's just say that Armisen, as Weekend Update tech correspondent Randall Meeks, finds a few flaws in the device.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What's my current (or future) website worth?

Valuing a website is never easy, but there are a growing number of web site owners wondering "How much is my website worth?" Well, that all depends on two main factors:
1). Is your website driving traffic
2). What is your ROI (return on investment)?

For many business owners in the 21st century, a website is a necessity. No longer can you simply purchase phone numbers in multiple towns and forward them to your main line. Marketing just isn't that simple with the rise of the Internet. (If someone needs to find a local business, you can just Google Maps a keyword, say web design, and the town, say Pembroke, MA - see results here and pay special attention to business letter B) to get a result. Just think - when was the last time you used that 20 pound Yellow Pages book? (And before you ask, yes, they still make those).

Most of our clients tend to spend more than $1,000 on their websites. And that's a once in a lifetime fee. But even if you spend as little as $300, your ROI can be significant. If one potential customer sees your website, it can be worth it. The key is to be professional and showcase what you want people to see.

Don't be tricked into paying monthly fees for your website. Our websites are designed with your budget in mind, and you own the site files 100% after payment. And it only costs $72/ year to maintain with hosting and a domain name.

If you're looking for a new website or to redesign your current site, give IES a call at 781-816-9437. Or visit us online at