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Apple Opposes Government to Protect Customers

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step, which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

 

On February 16, 2016 Apple CEO, Tim Cook, released a letter to their customers about the United States government’s demand to essentially build a backdoor to their iPhone. Apple believes that this would threaten the privacy and security of their customers, with further implications in the wrong hands.

 

The San Bernardino Case

Apple received an order from a California court to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone by hacking. The iPhone belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, a couple which took 14 lives last December. Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and has worked hard to help the FBI solve this tragic crime in an attempt for justice. Apple has taken great measures to comply with the government and provide all possible information such as complying with valid subpoenas and search warrants, making Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and offering ideas on investigations. However, the US government is now asking for something that Apple does not currently have, and believes is dangerous to create – a backdoor for the iPhone.

 

What is the government asking for?

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

 

This backdoor to the iPhone would create a custom version of iOS that would ease the FBI’s attempts at unlocking the iPhone by “brute force,” i.e., trying millions of passcode combinations using a special peripheral, without the risk of deleting the data on the device.

 

Apple believes in encryption

Smartphones are an important part of our lives. A majority of the population now has a smartphone and “we use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going”.

 

This information should be and needs to be protected from criminals, hackers, and terrorists who wish to use it without our permission for corrupt purposes. Customers expect and rely on companies such as Apple to provide protection of their personal information; thus, invoking the need for encryption. “Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.”

 

Why should we be concerned?

This order not only raises the issue of data security, but also personal privacy. It would expose customers to a greater risk of attack due to weakened encryption. In the wrong hands it could also compromise our security. It is also a question of privacy. “Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture his or her data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.” This backdoor could allow the government to invade our privacy, and in a country promising freedom, this order seems to impose further restrictions on those liberties.

 

Apple has opened the debate to cellphone users everywhere. Personally, I stand with Apple’s decision to fight the order due to the implications it would have on our security and our privacy.

 

The letter from Apple can be viewed here: http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

Apple TV Review – The Best Media Player of 2015?

The 2015 Apple TV is the best product if you want to give some new life to your old (or new) tv. The interface is beautiful and very simple to navigate through. The controller is small yet packed with features and the box itself is simple and minimal. Some people aren’t even considering getting the Apple TV due to its lack of 4K support but as an owner of a 4K tv I can tell you that this isn’t as big of a deal as it has been made out to be. My 4K tv is able to upscale the Apple TV’s interface, games, and videos to the point where everything looks like it is 4K content. If Apple had said that this had 4K support then I would not have doubted it since everything just looks amazing on a 4K TV.

The full video review of the Apple TV can be seen below but if you just want a rundown of what makes this better to the other boxes in the market, I will tell you straight away that it’s the UI and Apps. The iOS App Store is a testament of how good Apple is at getting developers to get apps on their platforms and the tvOS store is no different. Apps are being added all the time and will keep being added which is completely different to the competition right now. The UI of the Apple TV is also very modern and simple which gives your tv a breath of fresh air and it also makes it easy for all of your family members to be able to use it.

 

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Oculus Reveals Its Rift VR Headset, VR for Everyone

Oculus has revealed its first headest targeted towards consumers. The Oculus Rift features two OLED screens that are, according to Oculus, clear and provide a wide field of view.

The device has a cleaner and more subtle design than it’s competitors and predecessors while still improving nearly every aspect. CEO Brendan Iribe says that the tracking system has a very low latency which is vital to enjoying the VR experience.

The new Oculus comes bundled with a sensor that you can put on your desk, which replaces the webcam-like sensor from current Oculus devices. There are integrated headphones into will have 360-degree spatialized audio that will allow for a more immersive experience. The device will also allow for interpupillary distance which essentially lets you adjust the distance between your eyes for a better fit.

Lastly, it will come bundled with an Xbox One controller and you’ll be able to stream Xbox One games to the device thanks to a new partnership between Oculus and Microsoft. The device is expected to be available in 2016, there currently no set price but be prepared to spend closer to $500 for the first big consumer product in the VR space.

Source: Oculus

Misfit Announces New ‘Bolt’ Smart Bulb

Misfit, a company more popularly known for the Misfit Shine, has announced the Misfit Bolt which is a wirelessly connected smart bulb. The bulb does not need a hub to function which means that this just screws right into a lamp socket and works. Bolt is controlled through an iOS/Android app like most other smart bulbs, if you have a Misfit Shine you can control brightness and turn your bulbs on and off.

Misfit Bulbs Colors

Misfit claims that “Light never looked this good” and it’s hard to disagree with that since it has an aluminum body that directs heat away from the electronics and a glass dome that enables 260-degree light dispersion with zero hot-spots. I currently have a bunch of WeMo Bulbs that are have been very unreliable, slow, and feel cheap so I am definitely looking forward to checking one of these out when they are available in mid-February for $50 each or three for $130.

 

 

Bolt is constructed from a glass dome with a proprietary light-diffusion coating to enable wide-angle light dispersion with no hot spots, and a gorgeous aluminum body that doubles as a heat sink. A warm white light, Bolt is bright enough for everyday lighting while also being able to make a bold statement in any room with its color changing features. Unlike other smart bulbs on the market, Bolt does not require a hub and is easy to set up.

DreamMaker Launches New Affordable 3D Printer on Kickstarter

Overlord Printer - Plain Background

3D printing has become a big market in the past couple of years since the Makerbot first came out with its home 3D printer. Since then, printers have become more affordable, higher quality, and more attractive in looks, and DreamMaker is giving a try at the personal printer market with the Overlord and Overlord Pro. Pricing on Kickstarter for the printers are £299 (about $469 USD) for the Overlord and £499 (about $783 USD) for the Overlord Pro, along with other pricing for extras, such as wifi and camera. Additionally, there are still over 170 early backer Overlord Pros available for £299 as well.

Overlord Printer - Multi-colorOverlord and Overlord Pro comes packed with features usually only found on high-cost printers, such as a high resolution, heated bed, auto-calibration, and large build volume. There are also additional features that other printers don’t have, like break-resume which allows you to pause your prints or change colors and . One of the nicest features included in the Overlord Pro is actually power protection, meaning that if your power went out or the cable was accidentally unplugged, the printer will automatically pause the print for resuming later once the power is back.

As for print area, the Overlord offers a diameter of 150mm (5.9 in.) and a height of 160mm (6.3 in.) while the Overlord Pro offers a 170mm (6.7 in.) diameter and 260mm (10.2 in.) height. This means the Overlord volume is competitive with smaller printers, such as the PrintrBot Simple, and the Overlord Pro volume is comparable to the Makerbot Replicator.

Of course, one of the most important aspects of 3D printers is the quality of prints. Well, the Overlord doesn’t disappoint. As shown in some of these photos, the printer is very precise and has a high resolution of 100 microns.

Overlord Printer - High Res Printing

Overlord Printer - Print Examples

Last but not at all least is the software. With the Overlord, you can use Windows, Mac, Linux, and even iOS to control your printer. That means you can choose from models from your iPad and send it off to the printer to be printed without the need for a USB cable.

If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, be sure to check out the Kickstart project, as this printer appears to be a fantastic choice, especially for those on a budget.

 

UO Smart Beam Laser Projector Review

If you’ve been paying attention to the trends in tech, you may have noticed that projectors have been making a push in the market. Specifically, many companies have been coming out with pico projectors, which are very small, portable, battery-powered projectors for on-the-go use. One of the options out now is the United Objects Smart Beam Laser projector, which is a small cube-shaped projector that packs a punch.

DSC00792First of all, let’s take a look at the design of the UO Smart Beam. The projector has been built very well, and feels really solid in the hand, with what appears to be an aluminum body encasing the internals. It can probably take a beating, which will be great for on-the-go use. The projector measure in at 2.2 inches cubed, meaning it’s incredibly small and portable. It also weighs just under a 0.5 lbs, making it very light. In addition, the projector looks very modern and professional, allowing business professionals to use the projector in meetings without it being an eyesore.

Now for the features. For such a small size, it’s pretty amazing what the company was able to fit inside. The projector boasts a minimum of 60 lumens, 1280 x 720 resolution, a laser-driven light source, 4200mAh battery, and wireless streaming from some Android, iOS and Windows devices. Now, 60 lumens may not seem like much when compared to other full-size projectors, but it is easily visible in low-light to completely dark settings. The battery is enough to last about 2 hours according to the company, which is about right based on my testing, meaning a full-length movie can be watched just with the battery.

DSC00803Setup is incredibly easy. Plug in the projector to a power source (or if it’s already charged, just turn it on), plug in a video source via the DLNA/MHL/mini-HDMI port or stream from a PC, Android, or iOS device, and that’s it! The projector has built-in speakers, which are alright and good for on-the-go use, but I would recommend using a different audio device by plugging your video source into a different speaker for better sound if possible. Focusing is done automatically, thanks to the laser-driven light source, so you don’t need to worry about that. The only drawback I found with the setup is the lack of any keystone adjustment from a laptop or Android device, meaning the projector has to be at the right height to get a rectangular image. However, if you are streaming from your iOS device, you can adjust the keystone in the SmartBeamLaser app. The best solution to the keystone issue (if you’re using a laptop or Android device) and one I highly recommend is the tripod with projector mount you can purchase from UO for $20.

DSC00826As for the picture, I was truly surprised at how good it looks. The image above shows about a 40″ image with overcast daylight coming through a large window on the side (the camera makes it seem darker than it actually was), and everything could easily be seen. I also tested projecting about a 120″ screen, and movies look pretty good, though dark scenes are a bit difficult to see.

All in all, if you want to save some space with a small projector, or you want to bring one with you on a trip for presentations or entertainment, the UO Smart Beam Laser is a fantastic option! It’s a bit pricey at $379.99, but it can be used in many different scenarios, and I would definitely recommend it if you are considering a pico projector. The projector can be purchased from KDCUSA’s website, and I do recommend purchasing the tripod as well.

Kickstarter Project Jide Remix Ultra-Tablet Reaches $100,000 Goal in a Day

Remix Tablet Design 3

By now, most of us have heard of Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding platform. But for the people who haven’t, the site works by allowing an inventor or company to launch a product on their website. People can pledge money, and often receive that product or swag in return, based on the amount pledged. The projects generally last 30-45 days, and only the top projects are funded quickly.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can gaze at the beauty of this new Android-based tablet from ex-Googlers Jeremy Chau, David Ko, and Ben Luk, along with the rest of their company, Jide Tech.

So what makes the Remix Ultra-Tablet so great and why should you care? Well, it may look a little familiar, being that it’s based on the very successful Microsoft Surface Pro 3. However, there are a few key differentiators to this tablet.

An Android Productivity Tablet

Remix File ManagerOf course, one of the best things about the Surface is that it’s meant to be used as a productive tool. However, up until now, no one has released a true productivity tablet. The closest to it so far is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro, but even that has quite a few limitations, such as a file manager, which I believe Jide is the first to fully introduce on an Android tablet.

Other features this tablet boasts related to productivity are multiple windows open at once, a taskbar, and a magnetic keyboard, similar to the that of the Surface Pro.

A Powerful Tablet

Next up are the price and specs, and Ultra-Tablet doesn’t flank out on either. With the Nvidia Tegra 4+1 quad-core processor paired with the GeForce LP 72-core GPU, you’ll have PLENTY of power for most any application you need to run. In addition, it comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 64GB of internal storage (expandable to 192GB with microSD slot supporting up to 128GB).

Of course, to power such a device, you need a lot of battery, and this tablet packs an 8100mAh to do the job. And the power features don’t end at just the size of the battery, as this tablet has a proprietary fast charging port AND a much more universal micro-usb port to be able to charge your device when not with your charger. Oh, and did I mention it can also act as a power bank? Well, it can.

Don’t forget about aesthetics and the OS

Remix Tablet OSSomehow, Jide Tech was able to fit all of this great hardware inside a small body that greatly resembles the Surface Pro 3. It has an 11.6″ FHD touchscreen, it’s thinner than .4in., and weighs less than 2lbs, making it very competitive with the tablets out there today.

As for the operating system, Jide did a complete makeover of Android to make it as productivity-friendly as possible, and being ex-Googlers, I would expect them to know the OS better than anyone else, so it should be great, and from what they’ve shown us, that’s accurate.

Price

So this tablet must cost an arm and a leg, right? Nope! The Remix will retail for $399, and if you get over to Kickstarter now, you can grab one for $349. The first few lucky people got one for just $39, so if you’re one of them, I’m jealous!

I highly recommend you check this out on their Kickstarter page to find out more info, and maybe consider getting one for yourself!

 

More Photos

Remix Tablet Design 2

 

 

 

Remix Tablet Design

Remix Tablet Taskbar

Remix Tablet Email Client

Internet Blackout in North Korea Not Long After Sony Attacks

Internet_disconnection

Today, North Korea experienced Internet blackouts and is still reportedly offline. This comes just days after U.S. President Barack Obama asked China to help reduce North Korea’s ability to hack companies in the United States, believing North Korea was the cause of the attacks.

According to Dyn Research, an Internet-monitoring company in the United States, North Korea hasn’t been online for some time, and it is currently unknown as to why. However, it is speculated by many that they are under a massive cyber attack that has crippled their network enough to cause widespread connectivity issues.

Only a few days ago on Thursday last week, Obama asked that China close off the routers and servers that North Korea uses to connect through China. He also asked that the Chinese government try to find any North Korean hackers in China and send them back to North Korea.

These requests, however, have yet to receive a decision from China, with the spokesman of Foreign Ministry Wang Yi stating, “Before making any conclusions there has to be a full [accounting of] the facts and foundation.”

Along with the requests to China, the U.S. has also made requests to Japan, and though Japan has stated they highly disapprove of any cyber attacks, they won’t place the blame on North Korea.

North Korea is still holding to their original statement, saying that they were not the cause of the attacks, though they disapprove the movie Sony is producing about a fiction where Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, is assassinated.

North Korea and the United States have long had tension between them over various ideals and operations, and this is yet another one, but a very big one. People often don’t realize the harm that could be caused without the Internet because we rely so much on it now. Whole governments would be sent into chaos with government systems down, businesses could lose astronomical amounts of money without transactions online and communication would be almost absent.

The Internet is a fragile system and yet we rely so much on it. Messing with it can be very dangerous, and could cause a whole war in and of itself. All we can hope is that the possible cyber attack doesn’t cause any retaliation, otherwise we’ll start having some real problems on our hands.

Amazon’s New Echo Speaker and Assistant

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.26.31 PM

Amazon has been trying to figure out their future business plans, and creating consumer electronics products appears to be their biggest focus. With the Fire Phone not being successful, as they had thought, the Echo is their latest attempt to woo the tech industry. This time, Amazon is offering a product that will act as a wireless speaker and voice-activated assistant.

What is it?

The Echo is continuously listening for the wake word, which appears to be “Alexa”, though in the video below, the actor says it wakes to “the wake word we chose”, so it’s unclear at this point whether or not that is a set word. Nonetheless, once, it’s woken, you can say a slew of commands, including simple questions about weather, time, and general info like the height of Mount Everest. You can also have it play music from your Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio (and probably other services once the product has been out longer).

What’s in it?

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.16.06 PMAs far as the specs go, it’s got a 2.5″ woofer and 2″ tweeter, bluetooth, “fast Wi-Fi” (likely AC, though not specified at this point), seven microphones for “far-field voice recognition”, and is a total of 9.25″ tall with a diameter of 3.27″. These specs should give it a fairly clean sound with easy-to-use functionality without having to scream at it to get it to recognize when someone is talking.

As you can see in the very cheesy introduction video below, it appears to be very easy to use (though so does everything else in a video):

 

 

 

Amazon’s Plan

Amazon has been offering more and more devices that allow customers to easily order products from Amazon, including the Amazon Dash and barcode scanner app for phones. This new product will allow customers to add more to their shopping list by just telling Echo they want it added. With Amazon Fresh, people will even be able to get groceries without even having to pick up their device and go to the store.

The cost of the device is set at $199 for non-Prime members and $99 for Prime members. This is fairly comparable to other wireless speakers, so it should theoretically be a successful device.

Amazon has been attempting to change the tech landscape for quite some time now, and this is yet another try. With it being invite-only at the moment, they will be able to see if it’s successful or not, and decide where to go from there. Amazon really needs to figure something out, as they continue to lose money, or they will eventually go under, which isn’t something most people want to see.