Monday, September 30, 2013

Twitter Alerts brings instant emergency notifications straight to a user's cell phone.

Twitter has announced a new service that allows government agencies and non-governmental organizations to send emergency messages directly to users' phones during natural disasters or times of crisis.

Users that sign up for the service called Twitter Alerts will receive "critical information" via a text message or push notification when an organization marks a tweet as an "alert," according to the Twitter Alerts website.

"Twitter Alerts[...] brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren't accessible," Gaby Peña, a product manager at Twitter, said on the company's blog where the service was announced.

More than 60 organizations have signed up for the new system, including the emergency management departments of Louisiana, Florida, New York and Colorado as well as the American Red Cross and FEMA, said Twitter. International organizations such as The World Health Organization and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department have signed up.

Users can customize which organizations they receive alerts from through the service's setup menu.

Source: CNN

Friday, September 27, 2013

CONFIRMED: MA Tech Tax has been repealed!

Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill repealing a less than two-month-old tax on computer and software services.
The governor’s press office announced the signing in a one-sentence release Friday.

The House and Senate voted this week to repeal the 6.25 percent sales tax, which went into effect July 31. The tax had been widely criticized by the state’s technology sector.

Patrick has said he supports repeal of the tax but expressed concern about the loss of revenue in the state budget. The tax was estimated to generate $161 million in the current fiscal year.

Legislative leaders say they believe the loss can be offset by unanticipated gains in overall tax collections.

Patrick would have had little chance of sustaining a veto, since only one state legislator voted against repeal.

Bill Gates apologizes for Control-Alt-Delete login, slams IBM.

The Microsoft founder says the triple-key login should have been made easier, à la Apple's Macs, but that a designer insisted on the more complicated step.
"We could have had a single button. But the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't want to give us our single button," Gates said Saturday during a question-and-answer session to launch a Harvard University fund-raising campaign. His comments have gained attention since a video of his Harvard Q&A was posted on YouTube on Tuesday.
"And so we had ... we programmed at a low level that you had to ... it was a mistake," he said, throwing up his hands to laughter and applause from the crowd.
Gates defended innovation on the earliest Microsoft software though.
"We did some clever stuff," he said. "We were able to experiment with a lot of stuff, but more on the software side than the hardware."
Long the first interface step for PC users, Control-Alt-Delete still exists in Windows 8 as a way of either locking the computer or accessing the control panel. While the system defaults to a log-in screen, users may tweak their settings to return to the old way of logging on to Windows.
Sometimes informally called the "three-fingered salute," the login required users to use both hands and was intended to avoid accidental keystrokes from rebooting a computer.
Engineer David Bradley, a designer on early IBM computers, said he invented the combination as a shortcut during development.
"It was like a five-minute job in doing it. I didn't realize that I was going to create a cultural icon when I did it," he said "... I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous."
Source: CNN

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Repealing the MA tech tax...we're almost there!

The Massachusetts House voted Wednesday to repeal an unpopular new technology tax on computer and software services.

The House vote was 156-1. The Senate is expected to vote on repealing the tax when senators come back into session Thursday.

Gov. Deval Patrick is open to repealing the tax, which state officials had estimated would generate $161 million in the fiscal year that began July 1. The governor said Wednesday that he's waiting to see what House and Senate leaders do to close the gap that repeal would leave in the budget.

Asked if he would veto the repeal if it didn't include additional revenues, Patrick said: "That's not where I am. They know what we have to deal with. I can't deal with it without them so I'm waiting to see what they do," he said. "Whether they do it all today or do it over the next several months, remains to be seen."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said that no new taxes will be proposed to make up for the revenue. He's also said he anticipates no budget cuts.

DeLeo said Wednesday that he was proud of the repeal vote, which "sends a strong message to the world that Massachusetts is the place for innovators to succeed and thrive."

House Republican leader Rep. Brad Jones called the repeal bittersweet because it is "only undoing a stupid thing we did six weeks ago." (We couldn't agree more!)

Source: ABC News

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Android software lets users unofficially tap into Apple's iMessage service, with security concerns.

A functional version of Apple's iMessage has arrived on Google's Android platform, though not with Apple's blessing, or without potential security risks.

The software is called iMessage Chat and was created by developer Daniel Zweigart. Users enter their Apple ID and password credentials and can text with registered iMessage phone numbers and e-mail addresses freely.

Per iOS developer Adam Bell, the service appears to be tricking Apple's iMessage server into thinking it's a Mac Mini -- Apple's entry level Mac desktop -- in order to send and receive the messages. Jay Freeman, the creator of the third-party App Store alternative Cydia believes the app is piping the data through Chinese servers as well.

We are urging all Android users to avoid installing this software or offering their Apple ID account credentials.

What is iMessage?
Apple introduced iMessage alongside iOS 5 in 2011. The messaging service lets users on iOS devices and Macs chat with one another like they would send a text message. The service is not tied to any carriers and has been designed to work on non-cellular devices like Wi-Fi-only iPods and iPads.

The iMessage protocol has remained exclusive to Apple devices since its debut, mainly serving as a way to keep users locked into Apple's ecosystem of devices. BlackBerry used a similar tactic with its BBM service, which was set to arrive on iOS and Android devices this past weekend, but now faces a delay.

Source: CNET

Monday, September 23, 2013

We never expected someone to hack the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner....just kidding.

A group of hackers in Germany says it has found a way to bypass the fingerprint-sensor security system on the new iPhone 5S.

The hackers claim they fooled the Touch ID biometric security of the iPhone 5S by photographing a fingerprint left on a glass surface and using the resulting image to create a fake "finger" which unlocked the phone. They demonstrated their exploits in a video posted Sunday to YouTube.
"We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics. It is plain stupid to use something that you can´t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token," said Frank Rieger, a spokesman for the group, the Chaos Computer Club, in a post online.
In the post, the hackers said they snapped a high-resolution photo of a fingerprint, inverted it and laser-printed it with extra toner onto a transparent sheet. Then they smeared pink latex milk or white woodglue into the fingerprint pattern, lifted a thin latex sheet from it and placed it onto the sensor to unlock the phone.
"As we have said now for ... years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints," said a hacker, who goes by the nickname Starbug, on the Chaos Computer Club's site.
The group may be rewarded for its efforts. A website has offered a bounty of cash and other prizes for the first person or group to successfully hack the Touch ID system on the phone.
The site, IsTouchIDHackedYet, was created by Nick DePetrillo, an independent computer security researcher known for demonstrating hacks of smartphones, and Robert David Graham, owner of Errata Security, a cybersecurity firm. It invites donors to contribute to the bounty, which so far includes an assortment of cash, bitcoins (a form of digital currency), several bottles of booze and "a dirty sex book."
The total cash bounty topped $16,000 at one point, although one donor has since reneged on a promised $10,000 donation, according to the site.

Source: CNN

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Attention iPhone & iPad NOT update to iOS7!

Just because your device is compatible doesn't mean it should be upgraded right away. Once you update your device to iOS 7, there is no going back to iOS 6 or whichever earlier iOS you were running. (Yes, it is possible, but extremely difficult and time consuming).

If you are not in a rush, wait a few weeks or months until Apple releases the first updated version of iOS 7. The early releases of the operation system can include bugs that should be addressed with subsequent iOS 7 updates. Let other eager people spend the next few weeks finding and reporting these issues so you don't have to deal with them.

Older devices can experience frustrating performance issues when upgraded to a new OS. The iOS 7 software was designed specifically for the hardware that's faster than your trusty old iPhone 4. If your device is anything older than the most recent generation, it might suddenly slow down, and battery life can suffer.

For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at:
For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at:
So far, here are the issues that have been reported to IES:
  • Apps reported to be slow - or in some cases, no longer working or randomly crashing.
  • Jailbroken iPhones no longer function as jailbroken.
  • Battery life has decreased.
  • Bug while using the keyboard - difficult to type.
  • Devices are lagging and automatically rebooting.
WE STRONGLY URGE ALL OF OUR CLIENTS TO HOLD OFF FROM DOWNLOADING IOS7. If you are eager and must do so, please remember to backup your device.
For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Looking for an easy way to create business to business blog posts?

Blogging doesn't have to be difficult. Actually, if done properly, it can be quite easy.
Unpack more formal content.You don’t have to be the world’s best writer to create regular blog posts. If you (or your outsourced marketing partners*) are already creating long form content in the form of white papers and eBooks, you can drill down and repurpose different subsections of those offers into individual blog posts.
Create industry roundups.It’s okay to acknowledge other experts in your field. In fact, a post that includes a round up of other quality resources, websites, blogs, or Twitter accounts worth following can win you points with prospective customers and with professional peers; both are more likely to promote spotlight sharing blogs.
Feature your everyday conversations.Interviews, client questions, FAQ-style posts written by employees with different areas of expertise… These can all make for great posts.

*Speaking of outsourced marketing partners...did you know IES offers this service? Give us a call or visit our website for more information.
IES, Inc.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 reasons why your business needs a strong blog.

Many businesses publish blogs, but not every company understands why they do it or the real value they can receive from a successful program. There are plenty of reasons why regular blogging is worth your time, but the biggest ones will depend on your goals, your audience, and your existing web presence.

Here's the short answer to the popular question: "Why should my business blog?
  • Companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic.
  • B2B companies that blog attract 67% more leads per month.
  • 57% of companies that blog gain a customer through their blog.
These are all compelling statistics, but they don’t all necessarily align with your priority metrics. Here are some broad ways to think about blogging goals:

1. For improved organic search rankings.
By creating and optimizing relevant blog posts, you can help more customers find you. Remember that blogging, unlike ads and direct mail, is a long-term investment. Over time, optimized posts grow your blog archive to represent all your most profitable terms. Even just a handful of posts that are imbedded with the right terms, tags, titles, and Meta descriptions could help you jump from the fifteenth page of Google to the first page of Google.

2. For help turning traffic into leads.
Maybe you’ve already cornered the market for your preferred terms, attracting boatloads of traffic but not so many actual conversions. Blogs can help you funnel existing traffic toward calls to action. After a few paragraphs of inspiring content, blog readers will be hungry for more information, like a guide or a tip sheet. This makes your blog the perfect place to position call to actions and ramp up your visitor-to-lead ratio.

3. For opportunities to teach, communicate, and foster relationships. Sometimes lead volume isn’t a concern for B2B companies. Many of our clients need help attracting higher quality leads or speaking to prospects who are farther along in the buy cycle. Your blog is a great place to differentiate your company and speak to these folks - either directly with posts that address your knowledge and experience or indirectly with posts that illustrate your sense of humor, your understanding of industry trends, or your opinion on recent news, etc.
Welcome to the 21st century...
...where the majority of your customers are going to be obtained through an online avenue. We understand that running a business is extremely time consuming! Give us a call - we can help you not only with your blog content, but all of your social media.

IES, Inc.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Apple's iPhone trade-in program has officially launched.

On Friday, Apple officially launched the iPhone Reuse and Recycle Program, giving iPhone owners the option to trade in their old handsets for a discount of up to $280 on the upcoming iPhone 5S or other new iPhone models. The announcement first came in the form of a tweet from CNBC, which confirmed with Apple that trade-in program will roll out in nationwide on Friday and will require customers to leave the Apple Store with a new contract in order to take advantage of the offer. Any model of the iPhone can be traded in for store credit, but it is worth keeping in mind that the potential savings will likely be only a fraction of what other third-party companies can offer. Apple has partnered with Brightstar for the trade-in program in the U.S., and the initiative is expected to expand next month.

Source: BGR

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apple announces iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iOS 7 release date.

Apple unveiled an update to its popular smartphone on Tuesday at a press event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The tech giant announced the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C -- two very different phones.

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook started off by saying, "In the past, when we've launched a new iPhone, we lowered the cost of the old iPhone, making it more accessible to new people. But this year, we're not going to do that."

Instead, Apple introduced a lower-cost iPhone 5C alongside the iPhone 5S -- the company's flagship smartphone.

Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller took the stage to announce the iPhone 5C. The new device is made of plastic and has a 4-inch display. It has a hard-coated polycarbonate design, is steel reinforced and has a multi-band antenna. It comes in five colors: green, white, blue, pink, and yellow.

The iPhone 5C will cost $99 for a 16GB model or $199 for a 32 GB model, with contracts. A colorful variety of cases will cost $29. The iPhone 5C will go on sale on Sept. 20, with pre-orders starting on Sept. 13.

The iPhone 5S has a 4-inch display and comes in silver, gold and a color called space gray. The hardware has been upgraded to an A7 chip, and is the first smartphone to be 64-bits.

"The PC world made the transition from 32 bit to 64 bit and it took years. Today you're going to see that Apple is going to do it on one day," Schiller said.

Schiller says the iPhone 5S's CPU performs 40 times faster than the original iPhone. The new iPhone will also include a brand new chip called the M7, which is said to continuously measure motion data. The chip supports the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.

Schiller says the iPhone 5S's battery life has improved, and will have 10 hours of LTE and Wi-Fi browsing, 40 hours of music and 250 hours of standby time.

The iPhone's camera is getting a major upgrade. Apple is increasing the pixels to 1.5u to capture more light. The camera will also autodetect white balance as soon as the app is launched, and include burst mode and true tone flash. It also features a new image stabilizer and slow-motion video.
Just as the rumors suggested, the new iPhone will include Touch ID -- a fingerprint sensor built into the home button. The sensor scans sub-epidermal skin layers and will have 360-degree readability. It is about 170 microns thin, with 500 ppi resolution. The fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the iPhone or make purchases.

"Your fingerprint is one of the best passes in the world. It's always with you, and no two are exactly alike," Apple senior vice president Jony Ive said in a promotional video.

The iPhone 5S will come in three models: 16 GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399, with a contract. The phone will go on sale on Sept. 20.

Apple also announced details of its completely redesigned mobile operating system, iOS 7, that will be ready for download on Sept. 18.

Source: CBS

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Twitter makes another big purchase.

The social media company announced late Monday it is buying MoPub, a mobile-focused advertising exchange, in its fourth major purchase of the year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Published reports put the price at about $300 million or more, based an estimated values of Twitter's privately-held stock that is being used to make the purchase.
Twitter's statement said that MoPub's technology lets mobile application publishers manage their inventory of multiple sources of advertising.

Twitter, which is believed to be weighing an initial public offering some time in 2014, has been buying a number of tech startups as it tries to transform itself into more of a multimedia hub.

In February it agreed to buy Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge, MA, company that provides advertisers, ad agencies and TV networks with information about social media reaction to television shows.

In April Twitter announced the purchase of "We are Hunted," an Australian music streaming and recommendation service. That deal came a week before Twitter unveiled its own music app.

Last month it bought Trendrr, a New York based company that tracks social media activity around TV programming. The terms of those deal were also not disclosed.

Source: CNN

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Own an Apple device? Get ready for the iOS 7 release Tuesday.

Like it or not, your Apple mobile device is going to look and act differently within a few weeks.

On Tuesday, Apple will introduce the latest iPhone, and part of the tradition of the new device introduction is an operating system update that, at some point, most of us upgrade to. So even without springing for the new phone, your older iPhone gets a free new coat of paint — and potential pain — with tools in different places and different ways to access apps.

Unlike past upgrades, iOS 7 is a from-the-ground-up overhaul. Apple CEO Tim Cook calls it "the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone" in 2007.

Basic functions have been altered. For instance, to go from one e-mail to the next, instead of swiping to the left or right, you swipe upward and downward. For consumers, "It'll be a little shocking at first," says Evan Spiridellis, who runs the JibJab e-commerce company with brother Gregg. "It's a totally new feel."

Developer Joel Housman of Alexandria, Va., says consumers will also scream loudly, in the negative, upon the iOS 7 release, much as "every time Facebook makes an interface change, they complain about it."

It takes most consumers time to learn the intricacies of a new device, he says. The iOS overhaul will force folks "to learn how to do things differently" even on their current phones.

There are 600 million Apple mobile devices in use worldwide — including just over 60 million of last year's new model, the iPhone 5. So way more people will upgrade to the new operating system then pick up the new phone, which is expected to be in stores by the end of September. The last update was widely accepted: IOS 6 is installed on more than 93% of Apple devices, according to the company. The new update works on devices back to the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 and fifth-generation iPod Touch.,

Apple will begin reminding folks, when iOS 7 is available, that it's time to upgrade the software.
The iOS 7 launch comes in a year when Apple's once-strong lead over competitors has begun to fade. Google's Android — and the hot-selling Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones — now dominate worldwide, although the iPhone has the edge here in the United States.

Beyond a new coat of paint and stylistic upgrade that will see buttons and icons in new places, look for:
  • Instant app updates. In the past, you had to manually update each app when changes were offered. Now they'll be done automatically in the background. 
  • Control Center. The eight most commonly used features will reside on the Control Center screen, which can be accessed by one quick swipe. So instead of going to the Settings icon, opening it up and turning on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you'll find those options in Control Center, along with Flashlight, Camera, clock and calculator. 
  • Instagram-like features in the camera app. Filters to pretty-up photos are added, along with the ability to shoot photos in a square format. That means you won't have to crop your pictures anymore for inclusion in Instagram.
Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, says Apple had to make the software change. "The trade press was getting very negative to how stale and old-looking iOS was," he says. "In truth, most users don't care. Nonetheless, it was worthwhile to do it and give it a fresh new look."

And Gregg Spiridellis says despite the pain some consumers might feel initially, it will be worth the upgrade. "It feels like you have a new phone," he says. "It's that freshness of getting something new, even though you didn't have to pay for it."

Source: USA Today

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The end of driving as we know it...welcome Google's robo car.

Google's self-driving car initiative is moving into a new phase: reality.

Three years after first showing the world what it was up to - rolling out a Toyota Prius with laser scanning hardware awkwardly perched on the roof - Google is moving its big idea out of the lab and into the real world.

Consider recent developments: A spokesman confirmed to CNET that the company was in what were described as productive talks with automakers involving Google's self-driving technology.

Separately, Google is reported to be crafting a partnership with auto supplier Continental. And there's even the possibility of Google-powered robo-taxis sometime in the future.

Where is this all leading? The answer, naturally, is complicated. After all, we're talking about an effort to force the biggest change in the auto industry since the first Model A drove out of Henry Ford's factory a century ago. And the automakers aren't about to let Google plow through their turf unless it helps their businesses. They have their own plans with self-driving cars, and some execs scoff at Google co-founder Sergey Brin's wide-eyed remarks about making self-driving cars commercially available by 2017.

"We do not think someone will have a fully autonomous production vehicle that soon," said Daniel Flores from General Motors' advanced technology group. "Vehicles that can drive themselves are years - maybe decades - away. The technology will develop in steps to allow the vehicle to do more and act incrementally as sensors get more robust and costs come down."

That might be, but such talk isn't about to diminish Google's ambitions. Google is leading the charge on this one. It's prodding the auto industry - not to mention regulators and the insurance business - to push the whole effort at a Silicon Valley pace.

Already Nevada, Florida, and California have legalized driverless car testing on public roads, with a lobbying nudge from Google. And although plenty of other efforts are under way - from GM to Nissan and Audi - Google has the highest profile, something that surely rankles the old guard.

"Google's embarrassed the car industry by getting out ahead on this and getting all the attention," said Roger Lanctot, an automotive analyst with Strategy Analytics.

Let's not lose sight of something else: Anyone who's watched Google's swift rise in its 15 year history knows there's also a big potential side benefit. Google talks about making the roads safer, but the company's core business has plenty to gain from freeing up drivers from that task of, well, driving. How much? Americans on average spend 18.5 hours a week in a car, which adds up to a lot of time they could be checking Gmail, editing Google Docs, watching YouTube videos, and clicking ads.
"They're trying to free people's time so they can dedicate themselves to the Internet and Googling around," said Alberto Broggi, an autonomous vehicle researcher and professor of computer engineering at the University of Parma in Italy. "They're motivated by great innovation, but the bottom business."

Source: CNET