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Sonos gets cheaper for new buyers with Wi

Sonos is set to get cheaper for first-time buyers with a new update that lets the system connect to your existing Wi-Fi network, rather than having to use a Bridge. With the old system, Sonos created a proprietary mesh network, interfacing with your home network via the Bridge or a single player connected via an Ethernet cable. With the new system, which has just come out of extensive beta testing, Sonos can just hook into your existing Wi-Fi network.


In fact, the new method uses a combination of standard Wi-Fi and the Sonos network. So, play a song on one player and it will use a Wi-Fi connection to stream the song; add in a second player and the Sonos mesh network is used to synchronise the audio.


The aim of the new system wasn't just to enable Wi-Fi, but to ensure that the entire system was as rock-solid and as reliable as before.


The company has also made it easy to configure Wi-Fi setup. Nick Millington, head of product development at Sonos says that setup is all through the apps and all you have to do is 'push a button on the player and enter a password for your home wireless network, there's no need to switch to a browser or PC'.


While using Wi-Fi will make the system easier and cheaper for first-time buyers, there are some limitations to it. First, it only supports 2.4GHz networks. Although some of the players support 5GHz networking, this is reserved for low-latency use as part of a home cinema system.


Next, every player has to be within range of your Wi-Fi network. This shouldn't be a problem in most houses, but if it is, you'll either need to extend your home network or use a Sonos Bridge. Finally, if you use a Playbar in 3.1 or 5.1 home cinema system, with a SUB and Play:1, Play:3 or Play:5 players, you still need the wired connection.


Fortunately, switching between modes is simple. As soon as you introduce a Bridge to your Wi-Fi Sonos system (or use an Ethernet cable to connect a player to your home network), the system switches to the full Sonos mode; remove the Bridge or unplug the cable and the system switches back to Wi-Fi mode.


Existing users with a Bridge or wired player shouldn't switch to the Wi-Fi mode, as they already have the optimum setup. For people struggling to get the coverage they need from the Bridge, Sonos is also introducing the Sonos Boost, which provides 'enterprise-grade wireless'. This is due to come out in the next few months, although most homes will not need it.



Netgear announces $280 Nighthawk X4 R7500, its first quad

Netgear

The Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router (aka the R7500) is Netgear's answer to Asus' recently reviewed RT-AC87U. And it's a strong answer.


Most powerful hardware to date

The company's first quad-stream (4x4) 802.11ac router, the R7500 is also equipped with a 1.4 GHz dual-core main processor, currently the fastest on the market. That chip powers the 2.4Ghz frequency band, NAS functionality, and all other functions of the router, while another 500Mhz processor handles just the 5Ghz frequency band. By comparison, the main processor on the Asus device runs at only 1Ghz.


What's more, the Nighthawk's two USB 3.0 ports and one eSATA port promise fast network storage performance when coupled with an external hard drive. Up to now, no other router has boasted that combination of ports.


More speed

As the first two 4x4 802.11ac routers on the market, both the Asus and Netgear routers support the quad-stream 802.11ac on the 5Ghz band for a top Wi-Fi speed of as fast as 1,733Mbps. Meanwhile, on the 2.4Ghz frequency, the top potential speed maxes out at 600Mbps.


Netgear

That makes them among the fastest routers on the market, but there's an important caveat for now. If you need to take advantage of those top speeds, remember that's possible only with a client that also supports the same standard. As there are currently no client devices on the market yet that support those top speeds, you won't be able to achieve the highest ranges just yet. In the meantime, though, existing Wi-Fi clients will benefit from the Nighthawk's better range and higher wireless bandwidth.


Generous feature set with Dynamic QoS

Netgear says that one of the R7500's selling points will be the new Dynamic QoS feature, which will automatically prioritize Internet bandwidth for a better online experience. In other words, instead of treating all devices and applications equally, the R7500's Dynamic QoS feature recognizes each individual application -- gaming, streaming, file transfers, Web browsing, and so on -- and prioritizes them accordingly.


Netgear says the R7500 also is device-aware, meaning it knows the difference between gaming consoles, smart TVs, computers, smartphones, and so forth, and hence is able to allocate its bandwidth appropriately.


Other than that, it comes with many other common features and settings available in previous models, such as the R7000 and the R8000.


Netgear

Here's a list of what the new router has to offer:


The 1.4GHz dual core processor 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi technology with up to 2,333Mbps combined Wi-Fi bandwidth Application-aware and device-aware Dynamic QoS technology Beamforming+ that improves Wi-Fi coverage and reliability Powerful amplifiers and four high-performance external antennas Security features include VPN support, customized free URL, SPI and NAT double firewall, separate guest network access, and parental controls Five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one WAN, four LAN) One eSATA port and two USB 3.0 ports ReadyShare Vault desktop software that automatically backs up Windows-based PCs to a connected USB hard drive Media server supporting DLNA, iTunes (AirPlay-compatible), and other streaming protocols. Netgear Genie firmware with mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

The Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi R7500 router is available now at the suggested retail price in the US of $280. Pricing for the UK and Australia will be announced in the future. Check back soon for its full review.


AMD Rolls Out Unlocked, Eight


Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday rounded out its lineup of unlocked, eight-core FX processors for enthusiast and performance-class gaming desktops.


AMD's new desktop CPU lineup includes the first pair of lower-wattage E Series processors in the FX lineup, the AMD FX-8370E and FX-8320E, both with TDPs of 95W. The FX-8370E, priced at $199.99, has a base clock of 3.3GHz and can be throttled up to 4.3GHz. The FX-8320E is priced at $146.99, and has a 3.2GHz base clock and 4.0GHz maximum clock.


AMD suggests that both the new E Series eight-cores be paired with its own Radeon R9 285 graphics processors in desktop systems using an AMD 970 board and DDR3-1866 memory.


The chip maker also launched another eight-core FX processor, the FX 8370, to its lineup of unlocked CPUs for AM3+ Socket desktop boards. The FX 8370 is priced at $199.99 with a base clock of 4.0GHz (4.3GHz max.), adding a bump in performance to the existing pair of eight-core, 125W chips in the FX-8000 series, the FX-8350 ($179.99) and FX-8320 ($146.99).


Using the FX 8370, gamers can build a performance-level system for about $1,099 and drawing 650W, according to AMD. Such a rig would be based on the either the AMD 990FX or 990X chipsets, and feature Radeon R9 286 graphics, a 2TB mechanical drive, and 16GB of DDR3 1866 memory.


Meanwhile, AMD has also made it a bit cheaper to build an enthusiast-class gaming rig with a drop in price for its top part in the FX-9000 series, the eight-core, 220W FX-9590.


The FX-9590 (4.7GHz base/5.0GHz max.) is now priced at $229.99. Comparing this CPU to Intel's Core i5 4690K, AMD claimed its part provides significant advantages in content creation, raw computing power, and frame rates for gaming.


An FX-9590-based enthusiast gaming desktop could be built on AMD's 990FX chipset for about $1,499 and feature Radeon R9 290X graphics, a 2TB hard drive, and 16GB of DDR3 2133, with a system power draw of 800W, the company said.



AMD Radeon R9 285 Review: Tonga and GCN Update 3.0

On paper, the new Tonga-based R9 285 looks to be slightly slower than the R9 280 it is intended to replace, but there's more than meets the eye.


When we first heard about the new Radeon R9 285, our first impression was pessimistic. The new Tonga GPU sports specifications that are nearly identical compared to the Radeon R9 280, but with a slightly lower GPU clock and a sizable memory bandwidth deficit thanks to its thinner 256-bit memory interface. While the Radeon R9 285's onboard RAM runs at a higher 1375 MHz clock, the net result is 176 GB/s of memory bandwidth - significantly less than the 240 GB/s memory bandwidth of the R9 280. In addition, the R9 285 has 2 GB of RAM, whereas the R9 280 has 3 GB.


The tale of the tape is not kind to the Radeon R9 285. Yes, the new card's power usage has gone down significantly compared to its predecessor, but from a gaming perspective, that would be small consolation in exchange for lower performance. If raw specifications were all that mattered, and if the Tonga graphics processor was merely a re-spin of the Tahiti GPU in the Radeon R9 280, we wouldn't have a lot of nice things to say about the new Radeon R9 285.


After testing it, though, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Radeon R9 285 has a few tricks up its sleeve thanks to some re-engineering of the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.



Despite what its specifications may suggest, Tonga is not a spin on the Tahiti GPU in the Radeon R9 280 and 280X. Rather, it is a new and condensed version of the Hawaii GPU in the Radeon R9 290 and 290X. Among other things this means it has four times the number of asynchronous compute engines, that's eight instead of the Radeon R9 280/280X's two. According to AMD this can improve tessellation performance from two to four times, and facilitates effects that rely on GPU compute. In addition, the Radeon R9 285 inherits the 290 series' quad-shader layout, allowing four primitives to be rendered per clock cycle instead of two. Also note the CrossFire XDMA block, which provides the possibility of multi-card operation without a bridge connector.


Tonga features four shader engines, each carrying seven compute units (CUs). Just like previous GCN-based GPUs, every CU is host to 64 shaders and four texture units, adding up to a total of 1792 shaders and 112 texture units in the Radeon R9 285. These numbers are equal to the cut-down Tahiti chip in the Radeon R9 280, but the arrangement of resources is different.


Speaking of cut-down, we're told that Tonga is slightly handicapped for use in the 285, and that the uncut GPU has the potential to utilize eight compute units per shader engine for a total of 2048 shaders and 128 Texture units. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is the same number of resources available in the Radeon R9 280X. Perhaps AMD has some bigger plans for the Tonga GPU in the future.


Regardless, AMD did scale back some parts of the new GPU. Each of the four shader engines carries two render back-ends - instead of four as per the Radeon R9 290 series. Each of these is capable of rendering four full-color pixels per clock, for a total of 32 pixels per clock cycle in total. This is half of what Hawaii can process but equals the Tahiti GPU in the Radeon 280 and 280X.



Improvements are always welcome but with the memory interface cut in half compared to the Radeon R9 280, AMD needed to accomplish some magic to compensate for that 27% drop in available bandwidth. The company's solution was to enable the GPU to read and write frame buffer color data in a lossless compressed format, a technique that it claims can deliver 40% higher memory bandwidth efficiency. We're somewhat skeptical that this will completely compensate for the Radeon R9 285's lower available bandwidth compared to the Radeon R9 280, but we'll see what the benchmarks have to say about it.


That's not all that's been improved over the Hawaii GPU in the Radeon 290 series, though. Tonga boasts other new features such as the ability to process instructions in parallel between SIMD lanes, improved compute task scheduling algorithms, and even new 16-bit floating point and integer instructions for compute and media processing tasks.


Of course, Tonga has inherited Hawaii's fixed-function hardware, too, such as TrueAudio (AMD's new audio processor) and project FreeSync (the open-source answer to Nvidia's G-Sync) support. In addition, AMD claims to have revamped the unified video decoder (UVD) and video coding engine (VCE) with improvements specific to the Tonga GPU. The Radeon R9 285's UVD now supports H.264 playback at high frame rates on 4K displays, and the VCE has been improved with faster performance in addition to 4K resolution support. AMD claims a 31%-47% transcoding advantage over the GeForce GTX 760, but we'd prefer to run our own tests on that so expect some in-depth coverage from us in the future.



For the first time, AMD has added the ability to specify the maximum fan speed in the Overdrive overclocking utility. This means that users who prioritize noise can set the maximum fan RPMs, and the driver will automatically adjust clock rates to fit power and heat into the user-specified envelope. This feature will be available in the 14.8 release driver, but only to models with second- and third-iterations of GCN processors: the Radeon R7 260, 260X, R9 285, R9 290, and R9 290X. This functionality didn't seem to work in our pre-release beta driver, unfortunately.


Those are the updated details we have to share from an architectural perspective, now let's get down to the nitty gritty: the test hardware, specifically the Radeon R9 285 card.


Hacked naked selfies stick around: Celebrity iCloud sex download fears


Credit: Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton -- it's #fappening

While we weren't looking, hackers have downloaded celeb sexting pics, to the surprise of few (and to the delight of many teenagers). It would appear that the victims' iCloud passwords were either phished or brute-forced.


And, no, I'm not going to tell you where to find the images.


In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why 4chan's webserver is melting.


Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


According to Aunty's sub-eds, 'cloud' is still a word that needs putting in 'quotes':


The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen. ... About 20 personalities...have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet. ... Apple says it is investigating [reports that] iCloud accounts have been hacked. ... [Jennifer] Lawrence, who stars in The Hunger Games films...requested an investigation after a hacker apparently obtained...graphic content, from the mobile phones of numerous celebrities. ... A spokeswoman for the actress said the internet posts were 'a flagrant violation of privacy.' MORE

Shaun Waterman desperately tries to avoid prurience: [You'd better avoid it too, else you're fired -Ed.]


The theft of the pictures, apparently from the actress' own smartphone, is the latest in a series of hacking attacks against celebrities. ... 'The FBI is investigating a person or group responsible for computer intrusions of high-profile figures,' said Arielle B. DeKofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI. ... Two photographs of Miss Johansson were posted. ... In one picture, the actress can be seen in a mirror, naked from behind, photographing herself. ... The TMZ Hollywood news service said the hackers who stole Miss Johansson's photos were also behind a series of other cyberthefts of candid photos of young actresses. MORE

Charles Arthur takes a break from trolling other writers on Twitter, to write this insightful, in-depth report:


Security experts are warning that there could be many more compromised celebrity iCloud accounts after examining file data...stolen from stars including...Kate Upton. One theory gaining ground is that...pictures had been accumulated by one hacker over a period of time - and were then 'popped' by another. ... The posting to Github of an exploit against Apple's Find My iPhone service three days ago, which could use a 'brute-force' attack...points to the existence of weak links in Apple's service. ... The original hack looks to have been done by 'chaining' between accounts:..the hacker could access [one] address book and use that to attack others'. ... Apple has still issued no statement on how many accounts on its iCloud service were broken into. MORE

So Kashmir Hill answers this very-FAQ:


Predictably, many people respond to these famous women's revealing photos going viral by saying they shouldn't have taken naked photos of themselves in the first place. ... This is the 'sext abstinence education' approach to scandalous selfies. [But] it's not practical advice for most people. The digital age has changed courtship in many ways, and this is one of them. [It's] increasingly part of the sexual repertoire; phones have become sex toys. ... If it is Apple's infrastructure to blame, many of these people may not have realized that their photos were being sent to the cloud. ... Whenever a hack happens, there is a tension between the poor practices of the individuals hacked and the company that was supposed to protect their data. MORE

And the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian notes three un-sexy issues:


If...account passwords were brute forced, the problem seems to be lack of rate limiting by Apple. ... The computer security community doesn't really know how to secure data...with a short, mobile friendly password. ... Regular people use the default settings that come with products. We need...better defaults. MORE

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift tweets what all the infosec professions are thinking: [Uh, are you sure that's really Ms. Swift? -Ed.]


Computer security's dirty little secret is how much of the 'hacking' people hear about is just brain-dead, color-by-numbers stuff. MORE



No, Apple won't force anyone to buy the new iPhone

Summary: As the unveiling of Apple's new iPhone approaches, the nay-sayers are out in force stating that the company will somehow coerce buyers to upgrade. That ignores one pertinent fact.


(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)


The new iPhone, aka iPhone 6, is getting close with Apple expected to unveil it shortly. This has the usual crowd popping out of the web like those creatures in a whack-a-mole game, claiming that Apple must somehow trick existing iPhone owners (aka iSheep) or force them to upgrade. The premise that any company can hoodwink millions of owners to do anything is absurd.


You can't take a stroll around the web without running into Apple haters who honestly believe the company does something to trick followers into buying the next big thing from Cupertino. According to some, the iSheep will ignorantly line up for the latest piece of junk that Apple forces on the masses. After all, what other reason would make millions buy an over-priced device that is so far behind the competition?


A majority of owners of Apple's products not only like them, they like them a lot.


The answer is obvious. It's called customer satisfaction. Yes, a majority of owners of Apple's products not only like them, they like them a lot. They like the design, the build quality, and most importantly they like using them. They do what they want, in the way they like, and they can't see changing for the unknown.


No matter what you feel about Apple and its products, there is no denying that its customers like the things they make. They buy them, find they do what they expect, and they are very satisfied with both the product and the user experience. That's a powerful incentive to upgrade a device to the latest model.


The upcoming iPhone may not be as rich in features as every phone out there, and it may lack some things found on other products. That's key to some tech-savvy folks, and that's OK. It doesn't matter to a lot of Apple's existing customers, however.


Go ahead and justify to yourself why Apple's customers are being led by the nose to the latest iPhone. The fact is that customer satisfaction is very important to any company, and a great reason for customers to upgrade.


You might be surprised to find that the company behind your current device might sell you out in a heartbeat if it could have the customer satisfaction that Apple's products have generated for a decade. Whatever company that may be and however much they appreciate you, they'd probably like a loyal customer base like Apple's far more.


Rest assured that Apple is not going to make anyone upgrade to the next iPhone. It won't have to, as satisfied customers will line up to do it. No subterfuge required, just good business.


See also:


Samsung, Swarovski team

by Dusan Belic -



Samsung is yet again partnering with Swarovski to add more bling to its products. This time round, it's the newly announced Gear S which is getting the crystal treatment; more precisely, the wearable will be using Swarovski's latest Crystal Fine Mesh product that is apparently used by 'top brands in the fashion industry.'


The end result looks sexy, making for a perfect gift for the coming Christmas season. Or not; Samsung failed to mention the price in its press release, only saying that this special Gear S will start selling in October.


New smart watch aside, Swarovski will also be helping Samsung make the about-to-be-launched Galaxy Note 4 nicer for the ladies. They haven't specifically said the Note 4 will get some crystal love; they said that Samsung's 'next flagship device' will get crystal-adorned back covers.


As a reminder, earlier Swarovski-Samsung products include accessories for the Galaxy S5, Gear Fit and Galaxy Note 3.


So, any takers?


Hacked naked selfies stick around: Celebrity iCloud sex download fears


Credit: Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton -- it's #fappening

While we weren't looking, hackers have downloaded celeb sexting pics, to the surprise of few (and to the delight of many teenagers). It would appear that the victims' iCloud passwords were either phished or brute-forced.


And, no, I'm not going to tell you where to find the images.


In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why 4chan's webserver is melting.


Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


According to Aunty's sub-eds, 'cloud' is still a word that needs putting in 'quotes':


The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen. ... About 20 personalities...have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet. ... Apple says it is investigating [reports that] iCloud accounts have been hacked. ... [Jennifer] Lawrence, who stars in The Hunger Games films...requested an investigation after a hacker apparently obtained...graphic content, from the mobile phones of numerous celebrities. ... A spokeswoman for the actress said the internet posts were 'a flagrant violation of privacy.' MORE

Shaun Waterman desperately tries to avoid prurience: [You'd better avoid it too, else you're fired -Ed.]


The theft of the pictures, apparently from the actress' own smartphone, is the latest in a series of hacking attacks against celebrities. ... 'The FBI is investigating a person or group responsible for computer intrusions of high-profile figures,' said Arielle B. DeKofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI. ... Two photographs of Miss Johansson were posted. ... In one picture, the actress can be seen in a mirror, naked from behind, photographing herself. ... The TMZ Hollywood news service said the hackers who stole Miss Johansson's photos were also behind a series of other cyberthefts of candid photos of young actresses. MORE

Charles Arthur takes a break from trolling other writers on Twitter, to write this insightful, in-depth report:


Security experts are warning that there could be many more compromised celebrity iCloud accounts after examining file data...stolen from stars including...Kate Upton. One theory gaining ground is that...pictures had been accumulated by one hacker over a period of time - and were then 'popped' by another. ... The posting to Github of an exploit against Apple's Find My iPhone service three days ago, which could use a 'brute-force' attack...points to the existence of weak links in Apple's service. ... The original hack looks to have been done by 'chaining' between accounts:..the hacker could access [one] address book and use that to attack others'. ... Apple has still issued no statement on how many accounts on its iCloud service were broken into. MORE

So Kashmir Hill answers this very-FAQ:


Predictably, many people respond to these famous women's revealing photos going viral by saying they shouldn't have taken naked photos of themselves in the first place. ... This is the 'sext abstinence education' approach to scandalous selfies. [But] it's not practical advice for most people. The digital age has changed courtship in many ways, and this is one of them. [It's] increasingly part of the sexual repertoire; phones have become sex toys. ... If it is Apple's infrastructure to blame, many of these people may not have realized that their photos were being sent to the cloud. ... Whenever a hack happens, there is a tension between the poor practices of the individuals hacked and the company that was supposed to protect their data. MORE

And the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian notes three un-sexy issues:


If...account passwords were brute forced, the problem seems to be lack of rate limiting by Apple. ... The computer security community doesn't really know how to secure data...with a short, mobile friendly password. ... Regular people use the default settings that come with products. We need...better defaults. MORE

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift tweets what all the infosec professions are thinking: [Uh, are you sure that's really Ms. Swift? -Ed.]


Computer security's dirty little secret is how much of the 'hacking' people hear about is just brain-dead, color-by-numbers stuff. MORE



Hacked naked selfies stick around: Celebrity iCloud sex download fears


Credit: Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton -- it's #fappening

While we weren't looking, hackers have downloaded celeb sexting pics, to the surprise of few (and to the delight of many teenagers). It would appear that the victims' iCloud passwords were either phished or brute-forced.


And, no, I'm not going to tell you where to find the images.


In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why 4chan's webserver is melting.


Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


According to Aunty's sub-eds, 'cloud' is still a word that needs putting in 'quotes':


The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen. ... About 20 personalities...have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet. ... Apple says it is investigating [reports that] iCloud accounts have been hacked. ... [Jennifer] Lawrence, who stars in The Hunger Games films...requested an investigation after a hacker apparently obtained...graphic content, from the mobile phones of numerous celebrities. ... A spokeswoman for the actress said the internet posts were 'a flagrant violation of privacy.' MORE

Shaun Waterman desperately tries to avoid prurience: [You'd better avoid it too, else you're fired -Ed.]


The theft of the pictures, apparently from the actress' own smartphone, is the latest in a series of hacking attacks against celebrities. ... 'The FBI is investigating a person or group responsible for computer intrusions of high-profile figures,' said Arielle B. DeKofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI. ... Two photographs of Miss Johansson were posted. ... In one picture, the actress can be seen in a mirror, naked from behind, photographing herself. ... The TMZ Hollywood news service said the hackers who stole Miss Johansson's photos were also behind a series of other cyberthefts of candid photos of young actresses. MORE

Charles Arthur takes a break from trolling other writers on Twitter, to write this insightful, in-depth report:


Security experts are warning that there could be many more compromised celebrity iCloud accounts after examining file data...stolen from stars including...Kate Upton. One theory gaining ground is that...pictures had been accumulated by one hacker over a period of time - and were then 'popped' by another. ... The posting to Github of an exploit against Apple's Find My iPhone service three days ago, which could use a 'brute-force' attack...points to the existence of weak links in Apple's service. ... The original hack looks to have been done by 'chaining' between accounts:..the hacker could access [one] address book and use that to attack others'. ... Apple has still issued no statement on how many accounts on its iCloud service were broken into. MORE

So Kashmir Hill answers this very-FAQ:


Predictably, many people respond to these famous women's revealing photos going viral by saying they shouldn't have taken naked photos of themselves in the first place. ... This is the 'sext abstinence education' approach to scandalous selfies. [But] it's not practical advice for most people. The digital age has changed courtship in many ways, and this is one of them. [It's] increasingly part of the sexual repertoire; phones have become sex toys. ... If it is Apple's infrastructure to blame, many of these people may not have realized that their photos were being sent to the cloud. ... Whenever a hack happens, there is a tension between the poor practices of the individuals hacked and the company that was supposed to protect their data. MORE

And the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian notes three un-sexy issues:


If...account passwords were brute forced, the problem seems to be lack of rate limiting by Apple. ... The computer security community doesn't really know how to secure data...with a short, mobile friendly password. ... Regular people use the default settings that come with products. We need...better defaults. MORE

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift tweets what all the infosec professions are thinking: [Uh, are you sure that's really Ms. Swift? -Ed.]


Computer security's dirty little secret is how much of the 'hacking' people hear about is just brain-dead, color-by-numbers stuff. MORE



Uber Slapped With Nationwide Injunction In Germany


Last month on-demand ride-hailing service Uber faced a ban in Berlin on passenger safety grounds. That ban was suspended days later while the court in question rules on the legality of the move. But Uber is now facing another injunction in the country - this time a district court in Frankfurt has issued a temporary ban against its service which applies nationwide.


The Frankfurt injunction, which was issued late last week, is reported to be enforceable until the start of any hearing appealing the ban - so is very likely to be lifted soon.


The civil action has been brought by the German taxi industry. At issue is the lack of an official permit for Uber to operate in Germany under its Passenger Transport Act. The court accuses Uber of unfair competition vs regulated taxi industries, given that its undercutting price model, which relies on drivers using their own cars to offer a ride-hailing service, could mean corners are being cut on areas such as insurance.


A report in Spiegel Online notes the Frankfurt injunction carries a penalty fine of €250,000/$330,000 per violation, and the threat of jail time against Uber's directors.


In a statement provided to the FT, Dieter Schlenker, chairman of taxi companies' co-operative Taxi Deutschland, accused Uber of disingenuous behaviour, given how well funded the company is. 'The Passenger Transport Act regulates the protection of drivers and consumers. That can't easily be overturned no matter how neoliberal the company. Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a Startup-Look and sells itself as a New Economy saviour,' he said.


Uber has a $17bn valuation, huge funding muscle and a swathe of big name backers, including the aforementioned Google and Goldman Sachs, fueling its expansion.


In this latest bump in the ride-sharing road, Uber is able to - and doubtless will - object to the Franfurt injunction and ask for an annulment of the court's decision. It certainly has the overflowing coffers to lean in to lengthy legal battles. The company filed an objection to the earlier ban in Berlin, and has been able to continue operating there in the legal interim. It has also previously faced a ban in Hamburg, and recently was able to have that overturned.


At the time of writing Uber had not responded to a request for comment but the company told Spiegel Online it will fight the latest injunction in Germany.


We'll update this story with any statement from the company.


Hacked naked selfies stick around: Celebrity iCloud sex download fears


Credit: Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton -- it's #fappening

While we weren't looking, hackers have downloaded celeb sexting pics, to the surprise of few (and to the delight of many teenagers). It would appear that the victims' iCloud passwords were either phished or brute-forced.


And, no, I'm not going to tell you where to find the images.


In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why 4chan's webserver is melting.


Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


According to Aunty's sub-eds, 'cloud' is still a word that needs putting in 'quotes':


The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen. ... About 20 personalities...have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet. ... Apple says it is investigating [reports that] iCloud accounts have been hacked. ... [Jennifer] Lawrence, who stars in The Hunger Games films...requested an investigation after a hacker apparently obtained...graphic content, from the mobile phones of numerous celebrities. ... A spokeswoman for the actress said the internet posts were 'a flagrant violation of privacy.' MORE

Shaun Waterman desperately tries to avoid prurience: [You'd better avoid it too, else you're fired -Ed.]


The theft of the pictures, apparently from the actress' own smartphone, is the latest in a series of hacking attacks against celebrities. ... 'The FBI is investigating a person or group responsible for computer intrusions of high-profile figures,' said Arielle B. DeKofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI. ... Two photographs of Miss Johansson were posted. ... In one picture, the actress can be seen in a mirror, naked from behind, photographing herself. ... The TMZ Hollywood news service said the hackers who stole Miss Johansson's photos were also behind a series of other cyberthefts of candid photos of young actresses. MORE

Charles Arthur takes a break from trolling other writers on Twitter, to write this insightful, in-depth report:


Security experts are warning that there could be many more compromised celebrity iCloud accounts after examining file data...stolen from stars including...Kate Upton. One theory gaining ground is that...pictures had been accumulated by one hacker over a period of time - and were then 'popped' by another. ... The posting to Github of an exploit against Apple's Find My iPhone service three days ago, which could use a 'brute-force' attack...points to the existence of weak links in Apple's service. ... The original hack looks to have been done by 'chaining' between accounts:..the hacker could access [one] address book and use that to attack others'. ... Apple has still issued no statement on how many accounts on its iCloud service were broken into. MORE

So Kashmir Hill answers this very-FAQ:


Predictably, many people respond to these famous women's revealing photos going viral by saying they shouldn't have taken naked photos of themselves in the first place. ... This is the 'sext abstinence education' approach to scandalous selfies. [But] it's not practical advice for most people. The digital age has changed courtship in many ways, and this is one of them. [It's] increasingly part of the sexual repertoire; phones have become sex toys. ... If it is Apple's infrastructure to blame, many of these people may not have realized that their photos were being sent to the cloud. ... Whenever a hack happens, there is a tension between the poor practices of the individuals hacked and the company that was supposed to protect their data. MORE

And the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian notes three un-sexy issues:


If...account passwords were brute forced, the problem seems to be lack of rate limiting by Apple. ... The computer security community doesn't really know how to secure data...with a short, mobile friendly password. ... Regular people use the default settings that come with products. We need...better defaults. MORE

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift tweets what all the infosec professions are thinking: [Uh, are you sure that's really Ms. Swift? -Ed.]


Computer security's dirty little secret is how much of the 'hacking' people hear about is just brain-dead, color-by-numbers stuff. MORE



iPhone 5S Specs Vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 Specs: Camera, Look, Screen And ...

BY P Tuason | Sep 01, 2014 11:36 PM EDT



The iPhone 5 specs vs. Sasmung Galaxy S5 specs could be one of the best out there for any mobile device.


User preference really comes to play when it comes to deciding which smartphone to get. Each device boasts of unique features, but which device is worth its price?


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Here is a quick round-up of the two smartphones' features:


Off the bat, the iPhone 5 reigns in this category. The iPhone has always remained to be a top choice among users that value quality design. As compared with the Samsung Galaxy S5, the iPhone looks more sophisticated, more expensive and sturdier. Tech experts have always pointed out that the S5 has been using the same plastic materials from its predecessors.


The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the better choice when it comes to screen size, hands down. Its 5.1-inch display is favored by many than the iPhone 5's 4-inch display. The Galaxy S5 also has a higher pixel density despite the iPhone 5 having an Apple retina display.


The Samsung Galaxy S5 has this in the bag as well. The smartphone might even have the best camera in the market right now. With its 16MP camera, the S5 is capable of recording 4K video recording plus other high-end features, while iPhone 5's 8MP camera can only record full HD videos.


The iPhone costs $100 more than the Samsung Galaxy S5, with a retail price of $690 for its base model.


Which device is more appealing to you: the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S5? Sound off below!


Stay tuned for more iPhone 5 specs vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 specs news here!


Copyright ⓒ 2014 KDramaStars.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


The iPhone 6: here's what to expect


Now that the iPhone 6 has been leaked to oblivion, it's time to round it all up and offer a look at what your next iPhone just might be. From the visual punches to the specs and software, we take a look at all we've heard to this point. With Apple's mysterious event happening in just over a week, let's consider what will come of their biggest product announcement since the original iPhone.


Hardware

From the earliest days of iPhone 6 leaks, we've heard one solid, recurring thing: the rear casing will be metal, and look an awful lot like an iPad (or iPod, depending on your preference). Apple seems to be edging away from chamfered edges and strong lines with the iPhone 6, instead opting for a gentler roll from front to rear. Some odd channels also seem to be present on the iPhone 6, and remind us a lot of the HTC One (M8) -- just not as cleaner classy.


The glass on the iPhone 6 has also been the stuff of lore. Is it Sapphire, Gorilla Glass - a mixture, maybe? Nobody really knows. An alleged front panel, later put through some light torture testing, showed a material that was somewhere between the Sapphire/Gorilla Glass polarity when it came to resilience. Apple likely won't offer much on the way of an answer if it's not their Sapphire, but if the tested material ends up on the iPhone 6 - we're just fine with that. Rolled sides on the front glass will marry to the rear metal perfectly, and make swiping at the edges very much a pleasure.


The hardware buttons also look to have changed quite a bit with the iPhone 6. The volume buttons are now elongated, and the power button has a new home on the right side; again, just like an iPad. The Home button on the bottom of the iPhone 6 looks to be bigger, too, or at least more prominent. The bezels look to have been slimmed considerably, and that carried on to the bottom of the device. Those slimmed bezels are likely why Apple is rolling the edges of the glass, too.



Software

Apple announced iOS 8 at WWDC this year, and it builds efficiently onto the aesthetic change iOS 7 ushered in. A lot of revamped utility is going into iOS 8, with iPhone fans finally getting many of the things they've long desired.


Third-party keyboards are making their way to iOS, as is a more open Safari. APIs for Developers promise to bring in a lot more Safari and Touch ID options, which we saw previously with the famed 1Password security system. New Safari sharing choices promise to make the headaches with navigating between apps just to save or share an article a thing of the past.


Active notifications also make iOS 8 a bit more (sorry to say, but it's true) Android-y, where you can now interact with your notifications right form the pop-up or drop-down alert. HomeKit and HealthKit are also involved with iOS 8, but are a bit far from mature at this point. Maybe Apple has big news on those fronts September 9.


Though there is a lot of nuance in iOS 8 - and we suggest you check out our iOS 8 tag for all the in-depth news and analysis - one thing punctuates it: Apple has made OS X Yosemite work well with iOS 8, where things like handoff will make transitioning from Desktop to mobile extremely easy. OS X is also picking up on some of iOS' aesthetic punch, flattening icons and realizing an improved messaging center. Your desktop to mobile lines are blurring.


Both are also getting an improved Photos app, which promises to end the iPhoto/Photos dilemma. Don't forget Family Share, either - perhaps the sleeper hit of iOS 8. That lets you buy once, and distribute to several family members. We suggest 1Password as your first big share (it's that good).


Specs

A hit and miss proposition, the spec sheet for the new iPhone has been widely speculated on. Some things are a foregone conclusion at this point; a bigger screen is incoming, and the A8 processor is a gimmie. The rest of it leaves us cautiously optimistic.


We've heard a lot about the new iPhone screen, and it's resolution change. Still pixel-dense, both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models will likely have a resolution around 1472 x 828 and 1704 x 960, respectively. In either case, the pixel count is well above the threshold for seeing individual pixels with the naked eye, so it's of little concern.


The rest of the rumored specs add up to a fairly incremental change. A slightly upgraded LTE modem, as well as a proportionately faster (again, rumored) A8 chipset is included. NFC is likely incorporated as well, which has mobile point-of-sale enthusiasts giddy. Counterpoint to any excitement is a paltry 1GB RAM, which is believed to be included with the A8 chipset.


The camera is a point of curiosity, where a new True Tone flash may sit next to the same camera we find of the iPhone 5S. We've already seen some of the software tweaks Apple will make with the camera, but the actual hardware is still very much a mystery.



When will we get it?

Look for the iPhone to land in stores September 19 or so. Apple dropped the iPhone 5S in stores ten days after launch last year, and there's no reason to think they won't do something similar this time around. Considering the palpable buzz about this iPhone, we'd expect them to get it to us ASAP.


One report claims the iPhone 6 4.7-inch variant will start at $750, so get ready for a touch of premium pricing. The 5.5-inch version may drop later, and we're hearing it could start at nearly $1,000. I said it before, and I'll say it again: Yikes.


As for when we will actually see the iPhone 6 - that's easy. September 9 is the day we will get it, and SlashGear will be on-hand to bring you all the news from the event. Be sure to check back here for all your Apple news. It's going to be a fun day!


iPhone 6: Owners Must Adapt To 5 Big Changes

5.5-inch and 4.7-inch iPhone 6 dummy units beside an iPhone 5S - image courtesy of Sonny Dickson

Whether you believe every crazy leak to surface about Apple 's impending iPhone 6, there is one thing we can all acknowledge: iPhones are getting bigger - Much Bigger. The change for Apple is significant, but it will be far more so for long time iPhone owners used to upgrading their handsets and picking up where they left off. Not this time.


I've owned five iPhones and now I use a Nexus 5. This isn't about Google over Apple, it is about dimensions because according to leaked iPhone 6 schematics the 4.7-inch model will be virtually identical in size and weight to the Nexus 5:


iPhone 6 measures: 5.438 x 2.63 x 0.27 inches (138.14 x 66.97 x 6.9mm) Nexus 5 measures: 5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches (137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm)

No weight was leaked for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, but its dimensions represent a 16% volume increase on the iPhone 5S. Ignoring the expected switch from a glass to metal chassis, a handset that is 16% heavier than the iPhone 5S would weigh 4.55oz (129g). The Nexus 5 weighs 4.59oz (130g)


I have owned the Nexus 5 for 10 months, I have written a long term test and I have learnt a lot about big screen phones and moving to them from an iPhone in particular. Here are my key findings:


Muscle Memory Hits First, Hits Hardest

Many horror stories will come out after the iPhone 6 launches - how it is unusable, how the increase in size is too much, how iOS now sucks. For some these problems won't go away, but for many their reactions will be based on issues of muscle memory.


The big change is that current iPhones sit still in your palm and your fingers move around the screen. This doesn't fly with a big screen phone. Instead you move the phone position up and down your palm to ease reaching the top corners. It's very strange at first but soon becomes second nature and it is just enough to keep the phone usable with one hand for most things.


You Will Rearrange Your Home Screens

Despite learning this new 'palm dance' (better terms welcome) it will become impossible to ignore that a 'reverse-L shape' of the phone's screen is easiest to access and you will need to move around your most used apps to reflect this.


On my Nexus 5 the upper left corner became an area for a To Do list widget, on another home screen it is a calendar widget. Apple will bring widgets to iOS 8, but they will be in the notifications bar. Regardless, you will find that however beautifully arranged your current iPhone home screen it will have to change.


Read more: iPhone 6 Sapphire Display: Everything You Need To KnowYou Will Stand Still More Often Using Your Phone

Many times the most comfortable and productive way to operate a big screen phone is to give in and use two hands and - unless Apple adds more gesture-based navigation in iOS 8 - the placement of the back button in the top corner of iOS means this will be doubly so for iPhone 6 owners.


And this sparks a strange mental phenomenon: walking and using a phone one handed is fine, but walking and using a phone two handed is far more difficult. I'm no biologist, but it this seems to come down to two things:


1. You can't carry anything you are already carrying easily when using two hands


2. It affects the action of your hips and this shakes the phone around more as you walk


Try it. There's very little you can do about this, so get used to stopping more often when you use your phone. Just also get used to standing out the way while you do so.


You Will Ditch Some Clothes

While one handed use will be easier for men than women due to larger hand size, carrying around an iPhone 6 will be more of an issue to men than women. This is because many women carry their phones in bags, but men put them in their trouser and suit pockets and the Nexus 5 - and therefore the iPhone 6 - is just fractionally too large for many of them.


It isn't width or thickness issue, but height that causes the problem. Your iPhone 6 will stick out the top of pockets and even when it doesn't you will find storing it in your trouser pocket and bending over or walking up steps to be inconvenient. Some of your favourite clothes will drift to the back of your wardrobe and you'll check pocket size in everything you buy from this point onwards.


Keyboards Will Become Cool

The extra stretch required to hit the 'Q' or 'P' will become a thing. The swipe typing method Apple has added which mimics Swiftkey and Swype will become popular, but it is unlikely to be enough for many triggering switches to 'cool' third party keyboards.


This can mean superficial changes like keyboards with customisable colours, but also clever new functionality. For example Swiftkey (which will launch fully with iOS 8) lets you shrink the keyboard and lock it to either side of the screen depending on which hand you use. Android users have long been passionate about their choice of keyboard and this will be another step forward in the nerdification of the world.


Read more: iPhone 6 Given September 9 Launch Date. Here's What To ExpectThe Phablet

You will have noticed throughout this post I have not mentioned the even larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Apple is expected to announce and that is with good reason: no-one will try to use it like an existing iPhone.


Like it or not, there is a threshold to phone size. Some will say it is the 4-inches of the iPhone 5/5S, others that it is 4.7-inches or even 5.2-inches if the bezels are as compact as the LG G3. Regardless of where the threshold lies, 5.5-inches is beyond it. Samsung Galaxy Note owners, for example, love their phablets and often say they do the job of both phone and tablet but they don't pretend it is a standard phone.


The same will be true for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6. The shock factor at its dimensions - rumoured to be either 6.22 x 3.03 x 0.275 inches (158 x 77.12 x 7mm) and 5.94 oz (168.5g) or 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.279 inches (158 x 77.79 x 7.1mm) and 6.51 oz (184.6g) - mean it will instantly feel alien and different usage patterns will be expected.


Consequently the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will be the one most people will buy and the one upgrading iPhone uses will have no choice to ignore. But there is good news: having switched to a big screen phone I can tell you the time spent adapting will prove well worth it, though that'ss a topic for another post. ____Follow @GordonKelly


More on ForbesBest iPhone 6 LeaksGordon Kelly is an experienced freelance technology journalist who has written for Wired, The Next Web, TrustedReviews and the BBC. Find him on Twitter @gordonkelly and follow his Facebook Page

After alleged iCloud breach, here's how to secure your personal cloud

Summary: A hacker may have been responsible for leaking explicit photos of celebrities due to a weak link in their Apple iCloud accounts. Here's what you can do to keep your embarrassing selfies (and company secrets) out of the public eye.


(Image: CNET)


In light of the news that an alleged hacker cracked the iCloud accounts of celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, to reveal their private, intimate photos, there remains a high level of speculation and rumor over exactly what happened.


Since the photos showed up immediately after an Apple 'Find My iPhone' exploit was revealed, many are pointing their fingers at Apple's own security situation.


The security exploit in question 'ibrute' was published on GitHub on Saturday. It used a security hole in the Find My iPhone service application programming interface (API). The hole allowed hackers to keep trying one password after another until they found one that worked. Once a password was found, it could then be used to access a user's iCloud account.


Apple told Recode on Monday it was 'actively investigating' if these iCloud accounts had been hacked. The iPhone and iPad maker rarely talks to the press, suggesting it is taking the alleged breach very seriously.


While this was an awful security hole, the exploit relies on ordinary account owners using bad passwords. The automated exploit uses a list of just 500 common passwords.


Indeed, with this hacker tool, you can't really call these attacks 'hacks' at all. All a would-be attacker needed is the email address you use for your Apple ID. If you had a common and easy-to-guess password, your files could have been in an attacker's hands in less time than it will take you to read this story.


Some experts believe that this is only the beginning of a flood of iCloud security hacks.


So, if you want to keep your intimate photos private, or your company's industry secrets safe you must start by using something other than 'password' or '123456' for your password.


Rather than lecture you yet again on why you should use good passwords, let me suggest that you use easy-to-remember, but hard to crack passwords that use phrases rather than random characters. So, for example, 'Steelers?Win!Cowboys?Lose!' or 'Volt!Amp!Tesla!Edison?' won't be cracked by any common password cracker program but you'll be able to recall such phrases much more easily than say 'ufc#1310.'


Safe passwords don't have to be memory twisters. They just had to be hard for computers to work out, and phrases make great passwords.


If you don't think you can keep track of phrase passwords, password managers are readily available. Such programs as RoboForm and LastPass make it easy to stay on top of your passwords.


But for the sites and services that really care about keeping data safe, two-factor authentication can be the strongest tool ordinary users have to prevent unauthorized access to their data.


With this method, even if someone has your password to change it they must also have access to a device that should only be in your hands such as a phone. Typically, two-factor authentication systems will send you an e-mail or text message, or call you, requiring you to enter a code before your password can be changed.


Here's how to turn on two-factor authentication on the most popular personal cloud storage services:


Apple iCloud Login to My Apple ID. Pick 'Manage your Apple ID and sign in' Select 'Password and Security' Under 'Two-Step Verification,' select 'Get Started,' and follow the instructions.

Note: Be aware that when you change your Apple ID to two-factor authentication, it's a one-way journey. You can only change your password afterwards by using the two-factor method.


Dropbox Sign in to Dropbox. Click on your name from the upper-right of any page to open your account menu. Click 'Settings' from the account menu and select the 'Security' tab. Under 'Two-step verification' section, click 'Enable.' Click 'Get started' and follow the instructions.

Note: You will need to re-enter your password to enable two-factor verification. Once you do, you'll be given the choice to receive your security code by text or to use a mobile app.


Google Drive Login to Google from this link. Enter your phone number. Enter the code that you'll get from either a text or a voice phone call. Follow the instructions.

Note: You will need to get a new code for each PC or device that uses any Google services. For some services, such as Gmail when accessed on an Apple device or by a mail client or some instant message clients, you'll also need to set an application specific password.


Microsoft OneDrive Login to your Microsoft Account. Go to 'Security & Password.' Under 'Password and security info,' tap or click 'Edit security info.' Under 'Two-step verification,' tap or click 'Set up two-step verification.' Click 'Next,' and then follow the instructions.

Note: Microsoft may require you to enter a security code that the company will send to your phone or email before you can turn on two-step verification.


Many other services now offer two-step authentication. Here are ZDNet articles detailing how to set it up on Facebook, Twitter, and Google.


Two-factor authentication won't protect you if your photos or data are already out there, but it will help prevent such attacks succeeding in the future.


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