Friday, December 18, 2015

Netflix now offers a how to guide to making smart socks that will pause your show if you fall asleep.

Have some extra time on your hands? Love watching Netflix but hate when you fall asleep in the middle of a show? You're in luck!

Netflix now offers a step by step guide to make high tech smart socks to detect when you've dozed off and send a signal to your TV, automatically pausing your show. Never again will you binge-watch yourself to sleep, only to wake up two seasons later wondering what happened.

How does it work? Netflix starts with instructions for knitting socks, and helpfully includes pattern designs for its most popular shows, including House of Cards and Master of None.

Building the electronics setup is step two. This includes an accelerometer (to detect when feet have stopped moving), IR LEDs (to send a signal to the television) and a battery, among other components.

The electronics are then inserted into the socks. A few strips of felt help keep them comfy. In order to get everything to work smoothly, users will also need to do a little soldering and computer programming.

Ready to start your sock project? Check out the guide at

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wifi running slow? Your Christmas lights may be at fault!

Britain's communications regulator Ofcom has published a report showing that about 20% of poor wifi performance is caused by electronic gadgets and lights in the home.

While problems with network congestion and infrastructure carry most of the blame for slow broadband, devices such as baby monitors and home phones can interfere with your wifi because they compete for frequencies, an Ofcom spokesperson said.

Still, the good news is that a few simple changes to the location of the router and other devices can lead to a noticeable improvement in performance.

Here are some tips to maximize your wifi speed:
1). Restart your router: It can do a world of good to restart your router when you're having connectivity troubles. This allows it to search for a new channel that isn't being used by other devices.
2). Move your router away from electronic devices: "Halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers [and Christmas] lights ... have all been known to cause interference to broadband routers. Keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those which emit wireless signals such as baby monitors."
3). Move your router to a central part of your home: Walls and furniture can act as obstacles to your wifi signal. Power cables running through the walls and floor can also create interference. Your best bet is to put your router on a table in the center of your home, and keep it away from other devices.

Source: CNN Money

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Breakups are hard...Facebook wants to make it easier.

Today social media means that you are guaranteed to run into your ex, and he or she might very well be wrapped around a new partner. Research has shown that those who don't disconnect electronically have a harder time getting over a breakup. Facebook is ready to help by creating tools that will let people manage their post breakup life on its pages.

The tools, available only on mobile devices, are being tested with some users in the United States. Facebook will complete the US rollout and begin expanding the tools to other countries early next year.

What The Tools Do:
  • One tool lets users restrict how much they see former significant others on Facebook.
  • Another ensures that an ex's posts won't show up in a user's news need and Facebook prompts won't suggest that person's name when others write messages or tag friends in photos.
  • A third tool restricts the photos, videos or status updates a user's ex-partner will see.
  • A fourth tool lets users edit who can see past posts with their former partners and untag themselves from joint posts with ex-partners.
Facebook plans on tweaking these tools based on user feedback. Use of the tools will be optional and will be located in Facebook's help center after they're rolled out.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The new tech fad: smart homes. Surprisingly helpful, surprisingly affordable.

When you're not home, nagging little doubts can start to crowd your mind. Did I turn the coffee maker off? Did I lock the door? Are the kids doing their homework or watching television?

With a smart home, you could quiet all of these worries with a quick glance at your smartphone or tablet. You could connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you - from anywhere you may be (as long as you have Internet access).

Any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet or smartphone, the home reacts. Most applications relate to lighting, home security, home theater and entertainment, and thermostat regulation.

The idea of a smart home might make you think of George Jetson and his futuristic abode or maybe Bill Gates, who spent more than $100 million building his smart home (source: CNN Money). Once a draw for the tech savvy or the wealthy, smart homes and home automation are becoming more common.

IES now offers smart home installation services. From in your house to around the world, you can control any of the following devices and more:
  • security cameras
  • locks
  • sensors / alarms
  • doorbells
  • garage doors
  • shades / curtains
  • lights
  • fans
  • outlets
  • thermostats
  • appliances
For as little as $250, you can get your smart home up and running. Costs include equipment & installation. There are no monthly fees to pay or equipment to lease - you own all your equipment.

Interested? Call 781-816-9437 and ask for more details on smart homes. We'd be glad to answer any of your questions or setup a free estimate.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Less than 1 month until EMV kicks your business ready?

If you are a business owner, you should have heard by now that the United States is transitioning to full adoption of EMV chip enabled cards to reduce credit card fraud. The change is coming October 1, 2015.

How could EMV affect your business?
Today, if businesses swipe a counterfeit or stolen card, the bank assumes the loss. To encourage businesses to adopt the more secure technology of EMV chip cards, a liability shift is going into effect on October 1, 2015, where card issuers plan on shifting that loss to merchants.

What do I need to do?
Your credit card processing company should have contacted you by now to inform you of the changes and schedule new equipment to be delivered. (If they have not, you may want to call them). Depending on the company you use, that equipment may or may not come with a charge.

Do I need to switch all my equipment to EMV technology?
This scenario is most likely for small business owners who are being forced to pay for new equipment. It's just a matter of risk measurement...Consider the amount of your typical sale - are your customers buying a $10 pizza or a $500 laptop? Do you personally know most of your customers? What percentage of your customers use credit cards?

Will it be illegal to run a credit card without using EMV technology?
No, it will not be illegal to run a credit card using a typical mag card reader; just be aware that in the case of a charge back or fraudulent use, your business will be forced to take the loss not the bank.

If your business is facing challenges with EMV, give IES a call at 781-816-9437. We can answer your questions and help streamline the change, should you choose to upgrade.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Upgrading to Windows 10? Check out this ridiculous hidden fee!

Long before we had Angry Birds and Twitter to distract us at work, there was Solitaire on Windows. The card game has been a staple of Microsoft’s operating system for decades, but getting the full Solitaire experience on the new Windows 10 may cost you.

The newly released Windows 10 features the Solitaire Collection, which includes several variants of the classic card game. However, unlike the version of the game you played at your grandma’s house in the ‘90s, Windows 10 Solitaire comes packed with advertisements. To get rid of the ads and earn some in-game currency, users can pay $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year.

This actually isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to get users to pay for Solitaire. A premium version of the game was also released for Windows 8, but the title wasn’t pre-installed in the operating system as it is in Windows 10.

It’s not that surprising that Microsoft is charging for Solitaire, considering that Windows 10 is free and the company is increasingly seeking revenue via ongoing subscription services instead of one-off software purchases.

Source: Time

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Carbonite displacement promotion - we'll pay you up to $200 to make the switch!

Nobody can compare to the power, simplicity and value of Carbonite’s business backup solutions. And we’re so confident in our partner's products that we'll PAY YOU for switching! From July 30 until September 30, you can receive $200 for a Server, Appliance and Amanda Enterprise conversion or $100 for a Pro Backup conversion. And of course, our IES technicians can be there with you to make the switch pain free!

Act fast and make the switch today! Call 781-816-9437 now to speak with a sales representative.

*Restrictions apply. For full terms and conditions, email with the subject "Carbonite Displacement Promo".

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

7 simple tips to make your website stand out.

Your website is the digital home of your business, often the first page prospective clients land on.
Time to audit your site to make sure you’re not committing any of these homepage fails:

1. A clear call to action. If your users ask “what am I supposed to do here?” you’ve already lost their attention.
2. Simple navigation. Follow the KISS rule: keep your menus and top navigation simple! Don’t have too many choices to bewilder users.
3. Less is more. Your users are scanning your homepage for what they need, not cozying up with a cup of tea for a long read
4. Know your audience. Know who’s coming to your site and give them what they’re coming for up front, whether that’s news, your latest products, or a specific newsletter sign-up.
5. Be unique. Don’t break the cardinal rule of branding. It’s important that your audience can tell the difference between you and your competitors.
6. Update often. Keep your site fresh with updates on the regular, and you’ll keep users coming back.
7. Check your ABCs. Spell check, spell check, spell check.

Ready to get a professional website that works for your business? Call IES now at 781-816-9437 or visit

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Microsoft prices Windows 10 licenses at $119 for Home, $199 for Pro.

Microsoft has a grand plan to get its next operating system, Windows 10, running on 1 billion devices in three years -- by giving it away for free...sort of.

The software, which Microsoft announced Monday will begin rolling out July 29, will be offered as a free upgrade for all Windows 7, Windows 8.1 PC, and tablet users. For the PC market, those two versions power about 74% of all devices.

For everyone else, Windows 10 will cost the same as its predecessor, Windows 8, the company confirmed to CNET on Monday.

A copy of Windows 10 Home will run $119, while Windows 10 Pro will cost $199. For those who wish to upgrade from the Home edition to the Pro edition, a Windows 10 Pro Pack will cost $99.

Microsoft may have given the impression it was making a critical pricing change to its flagship operating system when it announced in January that, like competitor Apple, it would offer an upgrade free of charge. However, the company has been transparent from the beginning that the upgrade is only eligible for one year, until July 29, 2016, and has said at various points in the past few months that pricing for single licenses would stay on par with previous releases. Now, there is the possibility that future versions of Windows may follow this same path, meaning Microsoft may never go fully free with its OS.

Microsoft says copies of the software will be available online and in stores. Retailer Newegg, which appeared to have leaked pricing and release date information this past weekend (here) still has pages for Windows 10 Home and Pro live on its website, although its pricing says $110 for Home and $150 for Pro and is not updated to reflect Microsoft's confirmed pricing.

For those eligible for the free upgrade, the process will only grant you an equitable version of the software. That means if you had Windows 7 Home, you get Windows 10 Home. If you had Windows 8.1 Pro, you get Windows 10 Pro.

For more information on how to check your upgrade eligibility and reserve your upgrade for the July 29 rollout, visit the Microsoft website here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Will a magnet really destroy your smartphone or hard drive?

Do magnets actually pose a terrifying risk to our gadgets, and where did we get the idea that they're dangerous in the first place? Let's find out...

"This more than likely stems from old electronic devices, such as CRT monitors and televisions, which were susceptible to magnetic fields," explains Matt Newby from first4magnets, "When placing a strong magnet near one of these you could distort the picture. Thankfully, modern televisions and monitors aren't susceptible in this way."

Most modern electronics, like our smartphones, are not going to be adversely affected by small magnets; but is that all there is to it?

How do magnets affect smartphones?
"The vast majority of magnets that you come across day to day, even many of the super-strong ones on the market, will have no adverse effect on your smartphone," says Matt, "In fact, within the device there will be a number of very small magnets which perform important functions. For example, the new Apple Watch uses a magnetic inductive wireless charging system."

However, before you get carried away and start rubbing magnets all over your smartphone, there is something else to consider. Matt warned that magnetic fields can temporarily interfere with the digital compass and magnetometer inside your smartphone, and that's more serious than you may think.

The engineers over at K&J Magnetics actually experimented with an iPhone to show how the sensors inside can be affected by a magnet.

"The problem we found is that a nearby magnet will affect the internal magnetic sensors inside the phone. The compass won't read correctly," explained Michael Paul, an engineer at K&J, "What's worse, if you stick a strong magnet to the phone, you could slightly magnetize some steel components inside, making them act like weak magnets. This can make it difficult to properly calibrate the compass."

You might think it's unimportant because you never use the compass app, but that doesn't mean other apps aren't relying on the same sensor. Google Maps, for example, uses the sensor to detect which way the phone is facing, and a number of games also rely on it to work out your orientation.

This is something that Apple considers in case and accessory design. In Apple's Case Design Guidelines, there are sections on Sensor Considerations and Magnetic Interference, including the line, "Apple recommends avoiding the use of magnets and metal components in cases."

Manufacturers have to ensure that the built-in magnetic compass is not affected by their cases. There's also specific mention of the iPhone 6 Plus, because of potential problems magnets can cause for the autofocus rear camera with optical image stabilization.

It seems as though magnets aren't likely to kill your smartphone, but there's definitely a possibility they'll mess some pretty important aspects up, so why take the risk?

What about hard drives?
The idea that magnets can erase hard drives is pretty popular, especially in the world of entertainment. Walter White infamously used a massive electromagnet to try and wipe evidence off a hard drive in Breaking Bad, for example. Are our fears about magnets erasing hard drives also based on old tech?

"Magnetically recorded data could also be corrupted using magnets - including things like cassettes, floppy disks, VHS and credit cards," says Matt, "If the data is recorded magnetically, it is possible to corrupt it with magnets." Fine, but where does this leave Walter White and his hard drive?

"It is theoretically possible that an incredibly strong magnet can corrupt a hard drive if it is wiped directly over the surface of the drive," Matt explains, "However, hard drives include neodymium magnets inside them to operate the read/write arm and to record data, so again, they aren't going to be affected by regular sized magnets. If you were to stick magnets to the outside of your PC tower for example, it would not have any effect on the hard drive."

There's even better news if you have a flash or a solid state drive. "Flash drives and SSDs are not really affected by a strong, static magnetic field," according to Michael.

The engineers at K&J actually tried to use neodymium magnets for hard drive destruction, but the results were disappointing. They placed large magnets either side of a running hard drive until mechanical rubbing sounds were audible, indicating the magnets were bending parts inside. Despite this, the files on the drive remained 100% intact.

Larger magnets were also used with the drive powered down, but when it was turned back on, the files were still completely unaffected. Apparently, most companies nowadays shred hard drives to physically destroy them, because magnets cannot be relied upon to wipe data.

Do we need to worry about magnets?
At home you will be surrounded by magnets; they are in every computer, speaker, TV, motor, smartphone, to name just a few applications - modern life would simply not be possible without them.

It seems that magnets have unfairly gotten a bad press, but it's still important to exercise caution when wielding the strongest magnets.

"Strong neodymium magnets aren't toys," explains Michael, "You may have read in the news about how recently, some magnet toys were getting swallowed by very young kids. This is a very, very serious health risk, since multiple magnets can attract to one another through intestinal walls. We're talking peritonitis, which means immediate surgery is required to remove them."

Source: CNN

Monday, June 1, 2015

The hackers are coming! The hackers are coming!

Hacking: it’s not just for Anonymous and the U.S. government anymore.

Cybercrime is ever-encroaching and can happen to anyone. Including you and your business. In fact, it’s cost the global economy more than $400 billion, and it’s increasingly hurting smaller operations.

The problem goes far beyond the leaking of sensitive emails and sexy selfies. Targeted attacks against small businesses nearly doubled in 2013. And of the one in five that experience a cyber attack annually, 60% will close their doors within six months as a result (source: Symantec).

But not you. Protect your business with these three tips:

1. Be password savvy. If your password is still “Password123,” it’s time to get serious. Create unique codes for each of your accounts, and make sure they’re at least 8 characters long (with a few special ones thrown in). Use password managers like LastPass 3.0 or Dashlane 3 to keep track.

2. Encrypt emails and valuable information. If a hacker does breach your system, encryption makes it that much harder to get away with critical data. Voltage, DataMotion, and Proofpoint are industry leaders worth checking out. 

3. Back up your data. Copying your key company data onto a cloud based system, such as Dropbox or Carbonite, or a USB hard drive takes minutes, and will save you time and anxiety if your system is ever compromised.

For professional help, call IES today at 781-816-9437. We can have you safe and secure in hours, not days!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pebble Time Kickstarter project raised $20.3 million - crushing yet another record!

It broke its first record on its first day, when it became the fastest project to raise $1 million - in 49 minutes. A week later, it became the most funded campaign in Kickstarter's history after receiving more than $13.3 million in pledges, besting Coolest Cooler, the previous record holder.
Now, in total, Pebble has raised $20,336,930 from 78,463 people. Pebble's initial goal to raise $500,000 was too easy of a hurdle. Each watch was sold for $159 to early backers, and $179 for just about everyone else. Once retailers start selling the watch, the price will go up to $199.

"We cannot thank the Pebble community enough for their monumental support," Eric Migicovsky, Pebble CEO, said in a statement. "We continue to listen to and be inspired by the backers who believed in us and supported our vision from day one."

The Pebble Time is Pebble's second generation smartwatch, and this is Pebble's second Kickstarter campaign.

Three years ago, Pebble raised more than $10 million from 69,000 people on the crowdfunding site for its first product, the original Pebble Watch. The company's goal at the time was also an easy target -- $100,000.

Pebble Time is 20% thinner than its predecessor, and features a new color e-paper screen. The Pebble Watch only came with a black and white screen. A one-week battery life has also been another selling point for the Pebble Time.

Kickstarter says that Pebble is one of thousands of companies and creators who have turned to crowdfunding on its site for more than one project.

"Pebble's double success really shows the power of Kickstarter as a way to build community around creative work," John Dimatos, Kickstarter's lead for tech and design projects, said in an email statement. "The Pebble team wanted to come back to the people who supported them at the start, and that community really responded."

Pebble says it will start shipping the Pebble Time watch to its backers in May.

Source: CNN Money

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Microsoft announces Windows 10 will be free for anyone using Windows 7 or Windows 8!

Windows 10 is coming this summer, Microsoft has confirmed, and will be free to anyone using Windows 7 or higher systems. Even people who didn’t pay for it.

That’s right, even Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t have a valid Windows license will get a free bump up to Windows 10. The release timing and new upgrade scheme were revealed by Microsoft operating system chief Terry Myerson at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China, Reuters reports. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s a surprising move given the importance that Microsoft has placed on Windows license revenue in the past, and the lengths Microsoft has gone to to prevent the spread of pirated copies of the operating system. But the company has spent the past year reinventing itself in many ways, including going so far as to announce a free version of Windows for devices with screens smaller than nine inches.

Meanwhile, operating system pricing expectations have also been changing. Apple has offered free upgrades to OS X since 2013, and mobile operating system updates have long been free. Apple can make up for some of this lost revenue through increased hardware sales, and Microsoft is trying this strategy as well with its Surface tablet/notebook hybrid and other new devices. But Google offers its Android mobile operating system for free, making money off mobile advertising and app sales in the Google Play Store. Microsoft may similarly see a free Windows 10 as the gateway to alternate revenue streams.

The company now offers a range of cloud services, including Office 365, Skype and OneDrive, that Windows users may be more likely shell out for, even if they didn’t buy an operating system license. And even if those customers don’t end up buying cloud services from the company, at least they’re staying in the Microsoft ecosystem. Last quarter Microsoft’s revenue from consumer licensing — including both Windows and Office — accounted for only 16 percent of the company revenue, down from 23 percent the previous year. With Apple and Google Chromebooks slowly eating into Microsoft’s market share, the company could be thinking that a non-paying customer is better than no customer at all.

The company could also be worried about leaving millions of machines running outdated operating systems and software. Unpatched systems can spread malware and viruses, and releasing security updates for decades old platforms is costly. Microsoft has been campaigning to get users to retire Windows XP and the Internet Explorer 6 web browser, but China has been particularly slow to upgrade both. To make matters worse, the Chinese government, which has long clashed with Microsoft over piracy, even banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers largely due to concerns over upgrade costs.

The move to simply give away updated copies to pirates could ensure that Microsoft doesn’t end up in the same situation again. But regardless of the reason, it’s certainly a change of direction for the company. And welcome news to those who acquired Windows through less than legal means.

Source: Wired

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Got an extra $17k to burn? Buy this 18 karat gold Apple watch!

Apple expects some iPhone owners to shell out more than $10,000 for a smartwatch. And it hopes they don't care if it becomes outdated in a year.

The Cupertino, Calif., electronics giant on Monday revealed pricing for the three models of Apple Watch, which will be available April 24 in nine countries. The device starts at $349 for the basic Apple Watch Sport version and goes up to $17,000 for the premium Apple Watch Edition.

That huge price gap comes from the use of the materials in the watches - 18 karat gold for the high end edition versus aluminum for the sport edition - but not for any of the actual features. iPhone owners won't be able to do any more with the expensive gold number than with the entry level model (aside from show off their ability to afford a wearable device that costs more than some cars).

By pricing its smartwatch that high, Apple, one of the world's largest makers of smartphones and tablets, is setting itself up as a luxury watch seller. But the transition could be tricky. The computing world is moving faster than ever before, as technology executives like to tell us, and what's new one day may easily be outdated a few months later. Spending $10,000 - $17,000 on a golden gadget that could become obsolete in a year is a risky proposition, especially since we don't yet know if Apple will have a trade in program, how it will support older devices in the future and whether any of the components in the device are replaceable.

History has shown that buying the first generation of a new Apple product often isn't the smartest move. Apple tends to update its products in short order - usually within a year and sometimes even earlier. And it incorporates new features in each update that make the prior model less attractive.

Source: CNET

Monday, March 9, 2015

Your website is one of your biggest marketing opportunities. Don't let it fall victim to these 5 home page missteps.

It's all too common for small business owners who build their own websites to make a handful of rookie mistakes. Luckily, the professionals at IES know how to effectively design and code websites. If you need a website designed, give us a call at 781-816-9437 or email

Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, so whether you're taking on the creation and design of it yourself or you're hiring someone else to do it for you, make sure you avoid these all too common home page mistakes:

1. Too Many Choices
People won't actually read your home page. They'll scan it, looking for the information that's most immediately relevant to them. If they can't find it quickly and with minimal effort, they'll visit a site where they can.

Your site should be designed to guide new eyes exactly where you want them to go, even if they don't know for sure what they're looking for....especially if they're not sure what they're looking for. Simple navigation with clean lines is the way to go. If your business requires that you offer robust, complex choices, do that on a deeper page. Your home page should be simple and easy to navigate.

2. Wall Of Text
A few years ago, a multimillion dollar ad campaign from five major magazine publishers who were touting the power of print stated "We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines." To do that surfing, people will interact with, share and return to websites that have pages with:
  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet and numbered lists
  • Lots of white space
  • Images and other graphics
  • Sections with subheadings
Anything that breaks up the information you're presenting means people will read more about your company, your products and services, and why they want to do business with you.

3. No Blog
Blogging for your business doesn't mean you have to post something every day, but it does give your website dynamic, rather than static, content. Dynamic content means something on your site changes often enough that people will come back to see what's new. More important, it engages Google in a way that unchanging pages don't.

Even one post per week will be enough to get the attention of Google and other search engines. To attract the attention of human readers, be sure to announce the newest blog updates on your social media platforms and encourage subscribers to sign up for your blog.

4. No Optimization
Yes, there's a lot of luck to search engine optimization (SEO). No, this doesn't mean you shouldn't build your site without sound SEO practices in place.

A full discussion of SEO could fill several books, which would then need new editions fairly quickly because of how rapidly Google changes its algorithms. A short list of essentials includes:
  • Identifying three to five keyword phrases for your site to aggressively pursue
  • Including keywords in metadata, URLs and similar "behind the curtain" aspects of your home page
  • Avoiding "black hat" SEO methods like keyword stuffing and courting unrelated links
  • Using smart, natural instances of your keywords in your blog and on the static pages of your site
5. Neglecting The Obvious
Google gives bonus points for including a handful of simple page components on your website, which will help your site perform better in searches. Including "Privacy Policy" and "Contact" pages with specific data about your company, information about how to reach you and what you'll do with customer information takes no more than 30 minutes per page, but it's been shown to give sites preferential ranking over similar sites that lack those pages.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shortly after Google announces, Comcast admits "assessing the possibilities" of entry into mobile carrier market.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts recently hinted that the company is looking to launch a mobile phone carrier, to compete with the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The service would make use of Comcast’s numerous national Wi-Fi hotspots to connect phones and tablets to the Internet.

As reported by FierceCable, the Comcast boss said during an earnings call Tuesday that the company is ”still assessing the possibilities” of becoming a carrier. Under the plan, Comcast would employ its 8.3 million Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but Roberts emphasized that the time is not right to “chew open what [Comcast’s] Wi-Fi plans are.”

As pointed out by FieceCable’s sister site, FierceWireless, most of today’s MVNO services, like Republic Wireless and FreedomPop, work with a major cell carrier to augment their coverage when Wi-Fi isn’t available. The majority of your calls and website visits occur over Wi-Fi (at home or at work, for example); when there’s no Wi-Fi available, you are then passed off to a cellular network. It’s unclear whether Comcast would go this route or follow its competitor Cablevision, which recently launched Freewheel, a strictly Wi-Fi-only mobile phone service available at $9.99 a month for current cable subscribers.

"We do believe in the asset, and we’re looking for ways to bring it to market over the next several months," Roberts went on.

If that’s not enough evidence to convince (or scare) you, on Wednesday Engadget came across what seems to be a related Comcast job post. According to the listing, the company is looking to hire an executive under the context that it’s “evaluating potential entries into the wireless ecosystem” that would “utilize” Comcast’s millions of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Confirmed: Google to launch its own mobile phone network.

Google is planning to launch its own mobile phone network, the software and search firm has confirmed, as it plots a major business shift that will see the company move into supplying broadband connections across the planet

Details of what Google insiders are calling “Project Nova” were unveiled by Sundar Pichai, recently promoted as second in command to co-founder Larry Page, at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Subscribers of Google’s virtual network will be able to switch seamlessly between mobile phone and WiFi signals, and between the masts of competing mobile phone networks, as their phones seek out the best signals.

Dropped calls may also become less of a nuisance, as phones will automatically try to redial the number should the communication be cut mid conversation.

Nova, which will begin life as a US project, is part of a wider move by Google from software into networks, and the company’s ultimate goal is to beam internet connections to the earth’s remotest reaches, where four billion people have poor internet connections or simply live offline.

“We are creating a backbone so we can provide connectivity,” said Pichai. “We will be working with carriers around the world so they can provide services over our backbone. We want to focus on projects which serve billions of users at scale and which make a big difference in their every day lives.”

Leaks in January suggested Google had already signed agreements for Nova with Sprint and T-Mobile in the US. Google will not put up its own masts but will buy airtime wholesale from networks and repackage it for Nova subscribers. The model is known as MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. It is used by services such as Tesco mobile and would be relatively simple to expand into Europe and further afield.

Pichai claimed Google’s intention was not to compete with existing operators like AT&T, but to improve their performance by demonstrating what was possible.

He said the project would follow the same model as Google’s Nexus devices, low cost but high performance phones and tablets which are made in partnership with manufacturers such as Samsung and LG.

“We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale,” said Pichai. “All innovation in computing happens at intersection of hardware and software. That is why we do Nexus devices. We do it at enough scale to achieve impact. We are at a stage now where it is important to think about hardware software and connectivity together.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Using social media? Here's three tips to boost results by effectively using hashtags.

More than 27 million people have seen Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake join forces in the fight against #overzealous #hashtaggers.

Here's our top three tips for using hashtags:

1). Beware of hashtag overload: The use of excessive hashtags seems desperate and can even be perceived as spam. According to one study, the number of hashtags for optimal engagement is 7. Be strategic with the help of sites like Websta, Populagram, and TagsforLikes - they’ll tell you what’s trending at any given time to help you maximize your hashtag’s impact.

2). Consider color theory: Stay away from posting anything too dark. Light, bright images produce 24% more likes than dark photos. Photos that have blue as the dominant color also reportedly attract 24% more likes (when compared to images in red).

3). Offer a “behind the scenes” glimpse: People are inherently voyeuristic. Giving your customers a sneak peek into how the sausage gets made can be an effective social tool. If you’re a jewelry designer, post photos of your studio or a mood board that inspired your latest collection. You’ll make your customers feel like they have a closer relationship to your company.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Magic - send a text and get anything you want!

It's one of the latest additions to the service economy, similar to Alfred, WunWun or Instacart. But it's trying to one-up them all.

Customers can request literally any (legal) item or service by texting "Magic" to 408-217-1721 (no app download required). All communication is over text, and payments are processed by Stripe.

"Our premise is basically, if there's something you want, there's a way to get it to you," said Magic co-founder Mike Chen. "The only barrier is time and money."

The startup has helped people pick out outfits and order them online, find legal help and get Indian food delivered. (They don't do any deliveries themselves -- everything is outsourced).

In just three days, Magic has added over 1,000 customers to its database and fulfilled over 1,700 requests.

Magic wasn't intended to launch so soon, and some have reported glitches. Chen and his co-founders - Ben Godlove, David Merriman, Nic Novak and Michael Rubin - were working on a different app in Y Combinator's current batch of startups. Magic grew out of that business, and the founders let a few friends test it out.

But for users, there are no price guarantees. Because Magic piggybacks on services available in your locale, those living outside major cities will likely pay a pretty penny.

Other similar startups have chosen to scale at a very careful pace. (WunWun, for instance, has been around for 16 months and only services three markets). Magic, meanwhile, accepts customers from the entire US - those in major cities like New York and San Francisco have been the most frequent.
But so far, Magic's happiest customers have been those living on the outskirts of cities, since up until now, few startups have catered to their needs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Parents rejoice - new YouTube app now offers parental controls.

It is touted to be "the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind" and is available for Android and iOS users.

It offers a curated selection of videos appropriate for young viewers and features a "bright and playful design" meant to grab the attention of kids.

YouTube for Kids has four sections: shows, music, learning, and explore.

The collection of videos comprise a pretty extensive vault of popular children's content from Reading Rainbow, DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, Talking Tom and Friends, and others.

Also, it comes with a number of parental controls such as, a timer to set viewing limits, sound options at your disposal to cut off music or sound effects. It is also possible to disable the search function, a move that can limit your kids programming options to what's on the app's home screen.

YouTube said that it was "just getting started" with the app and invited parents to send in feedback.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenovo in hot water after shipping laptops with malware pre-installed.

Computer maker Lenovo has been shipping laptops pre-packaged with malware that makes you more vulnerable to hackers - all for the sake of serving you advertisements.

Made by a company called Superfish, the software is essentially an Internet browser add-on that injects ads onto websites you visit.

Besides taking up space in your Lenovo computer, the add-on is also dangerous because it undermines basic computer security protocols.

That’s because it tampers with a widely used system of official website certificates. That makes it hard for your computer to recognize a fake bank website, for instance.

Customers started spotting this on their Lenovo computers in mid 2014.

After facing a fierce backlash by customers and computer security experts this week, Lenovo acknowledged that "user feedback was not positive." As of January, Lenovo has stopped pre-loading the software on new computers, a company spokesman said. Lenovo also promised it "will not pre-load this software in the future" and said it disabled the feature on its servers, which essentially kills the program on everyone’s computer.

Source: Yahoo Tech

Monday, January 26, 2015

SCAM ALERT: fake court notice email making its rounds.

Internet scammers are sending emails claiming to come from a real law firm called Baker & McKenzie. The email states you are scheduled  to appear in court and should click a link to view a copy of the court  notice. The email is not from Baker & McKenzie and has no connection  to the firm. It is an attempt by cyber criminals to trick you into  trying to prevent a negative consequence. If you click on the link, you download and install malware.

In the recent past there have been a series of these court appearance malware attacks that claim to be from law firms or government entities.  If you get one of these scams, do not click any links or open any  attachments, delete these emails.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jimmy Kimmel shows just how easy it is to steal someone's password.

Did you know that "password123" is the most common password used in the US?
Even though we all know better, human beings will forever insist on using insecure, awful passwords. Awful passwords that, apparently, we are more than happy to broadcast on national television.
Jimmy Kimmel's producers went around the streets of LA under the guise of assessing people's password security, which they were able to do by getting them to reveal their super secret passwords directly into the microphone. We don't know their email address or anything, so it's not the worst thing in the world. But perhaps they should go home and at least turn two-factor authentication on?

Source: YouTube

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hey kids - forget your homework at home? There's an app for that!

Remember when you forgot to bring your homework that one time and Mr. Jones from sixth grade wouldn't believe you didn't just slack off? If Google's new Classroom app existed back then, you could have just asked someone at home to take a picture and submit it through the application. Yup, Google has just released an iOS and an Android Classroom app, and it does a couple more things other than giving you the option to take pictures of your (or your kids') assignments to submit. When installed on a phone, it comes up along with the list of apps you can share with from within another program. You can, for instance, upload drawings or PDFs from within an art app or Google Drive. It also caches its contents upon launch, so teaches can access a student's work even offline.

Other than the new mobile app, Classroom for desktop now shows teachers a list of assignments, giving them a clear view of what they've already reviewed and what they've yet to look at. Even the most competent educator can get overwhelmed by years of student-submitted work, though, so teachers can now archive past classes in the program if they want.

Source: YouTube / engadget

Monday, January 5, 2015

A false copyright message is rapidly spreading across Facebook. Don't waste your time copy & pasting.

"In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!"

You may have seen that very message pop up -- perhaps time and time again -- in your Facebook feed. The message has been making the rounds on the social network. It encourages people to copy and paste the text and post it on their own walls if they want to be placed "under protection of copyright laws."

It's a frightful message and those worried that Facebook will own their photos or other media are posting it -- unaware that it is a hoax. Here's the truth: Facebook doesn't own your media and there is no such thing as the Berner Convention.

"We have noticed some statements that suggest otherwise and we wanted to take a moment to remind you of the facts -- when you post things like photos to Facebook, we do not own them," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in a statement. "Under our terms (, you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings." 

Brad Shear, a Washington-area attorney and blogger who is an expert on social media, said the message was "misleading and not true." He said that when you agree to Facebook's terms of use you provide Facebook a "non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post. You do not need to make any declarations about copyright issues since the law already protects you.  The privacy declaration [in this message] is worthless and does not mean anything."
Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their Facebook accounts nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict terms instituted by Facebook simply by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls.

This isn't the first time a message like this has popped up on Facebook. A similar message made the rounds in June and a few years ago as well. 

Bottom line? Don't bother copying, pasting, and posting. It was a hoax before and is still a hoax now.