UGO Makes Little Speakers with Big Sound

UGO SpeakerI had the opportunity to check out these cute, colorful, speakers in person yesterday. This was completely unexpected, because the place I found the UGO speakers at was a Strawberry Festival. That isn’t the type of event where one would expect to find anything tech related. (The festival did live up to its name, however, and had plenty of desserts that were filled with some of the biggest strawberries I’d ever seen).

The name of the company is UGO (which is pronounced “you- go”). They were among the many booths of vendors at the festival. What immediately caught my attention about them was that I could hear the music that was playing through the little speaker from several feet away over the noise from the crowd. I can see where having just one UGO speaker would work well for a person to use at home (or wherever else they decide to go).

UGO speakers come in six different colors: pink, blue, red, purple, black, yellow, and silver (as shown in my photo). The UGO mini-speaker costs $39.95, and the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker costs $129.95.

Each has a micro SD slot. You can load your favorite songs onto a Micro SD card, insert it into the UGO speaker, and the speaker itself becomes your music player. It also has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The website says it has a 30′ (9.14m) range in which the sound will carry. UGO offers a 12-month manufacturer guarantee. The vendor at the UGO booth at the Strawberry Fest said that the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker can be used with any Bluetooth enabled device.

Your old Google Buzz data is coming to Google Drive

google buzz logoOut of the blue I received an email from Google Buzz support which, needless to say, was a surprise. In fact, I felt like a time traveler when I saw it land in my inbox — the service began mercifully shutting down back in October 2011. Well, it is not officially dead yet, it seems, but life-support is about to be disconnected.

The email informs former customers that all of their old Buzz data is heading for Google Drive and will be arriving this summer. “On or after July 17th, 2013, Google will take the last step in the shutdown and will save a copy of your Buzz posts to your Google Drive, a service for storing files online”, the  message reads.

It goes on to inform users that two types of files will be stored:

  1. The first type of file will be private, only accessible to you, containing a snapshot of the Google Buzz public and private posts you authored.
  2. The second type of file will contain a copy of only your Google Buzz public posts. By default it will be viewable by anyone with the link, and may appear in search results and on your Google Profile (if you’ve linked to your Buzz posts). Note,any existing links to your Google Buzz content will redirect users to this file.

If you left comments on the posts of other users, then those will only be stored in the files of that customer. Comments that were deleted will not be saved. The files will be treated as all others in your Drive — you can share them, keep them private or simply delete them. For now, you can view the Google Buzz posts you have authored here.

Did DHS leak your personal data?

bigstock-Security-word-on-white-keyboar-27134375

This week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an organization we rely on the protect us and keep the country safe, revealed that, perhaps, it has not protected its own employees. According to the security report issued by ThreatPost, the organization has begun the notification process about a possible information leak.

“The Department of Homeland Security this week began notifying up to tens of thousands of employees, contractors and others with a DHS security clearance that their personal data may be at risk” writes TP’s Anne Saita.

In a statement to it’s web site, DHS announced “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently learned of a vulnerability that existed in the software used by a DHS vendor to process personnel security investigations”. Not exactly the news any employee wishes to hear.

Those impacted included employees, contractors who submitted background investigation information and anyone else seeking a DHS clearance between July 2009 and May 2013, employees at headquarters, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The DHS stresses that it has no indication that data was accessed by any third-party, but is still recommending that those affected, which is thousands, take proper precautions.

Photo Credit: BigstockSecurity word on white keyboard

Would You Buy the Apple I – Famed Computer Up for Auction

Rare Apple I computer up for Auction

Rare Apple I computer up for Auction

Want to buy the famed Apple I computer? Well you better get your wallets out because it won’t come cheap.

One of six original Apple computer that still works will be bid upon Saturday in Cologne, Germany. Auction Team Breker (which, by the way, REALLY needs a new website built for them) sold an Apple I back in November 2012 for $640,000 and now they are planning to do it again. You can see the Auction Lot 14 Apple I here

From the Auction description: This is the sensational 1st product of today’s highest-valued company (approx. 600 billion US$). – The “Apple 1″ was designed and handmade by Steve Wozniak in the famous “electronics heaven” of “Silicon Valley”, USA, and was marketed in April 1976 by Wozniak and Steve Jobs through electronics retail chain, the “Byte Shop”, which bought the first 50 units. – The “Apple 1″ was always delivered as a motherboard only and is seen here with the very rare original “NTI” sign. The peripheral equipment such as power pack, keyboard, monitor and cassette recorder had to be obtained personally by the user. “Apple” never offered a housing; every user had to make his own. – The “Apple 1″ was the 1st PC in the world with monitor and keyboard access!

Bidding will start at $116,000 (90,000 Euros). Many will expect this Apple I will get as high as $400,000 or more.

There are many other items up for auction if you don’t want (or can’t afford) the Apple I computer. The Rare Six-Digit “Pascaline” Calculator By B. Pascal, a Curta “Type I” Calculator, The Calculus bu American computing machine, Laytons Improved Arithmometer and much more.

Oh yeah. Winning bidder also has to pay for shipping…

GNC-2013-05-23 #861 New Box is Here

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Twitter Adds Two Step Verification System

Twitter logoWhen Burger King got hacked, we all laughed at the idea McDonalds might have bought it. When the Associated Press got hacked, we noticed. But it took the Onion in getting hacked for Twitter to finally do something…

Twitter rolled out a two-step verification system for users to get extra protection against would-be hackers. The verification method includes a special code that is sent via phone when they try to log in. With this extra step using a cell phone, hackers can become thwarted in trying to access an account.

This is not a new process – Facebook and Google both give this second verification step in your security features. Its better than a password because you don’t need to remember one. Its also better than a “name your pet” verification because in some cases (like Sarah Palin) people know that information.

“Today we’re introducing a new security feature to better protect your Twitter account: login verification,” says Jimio from the Twitter Product Security Team on the Twitter blog. “With login verification enabled, your existing applications will continue to work without disruption. If you need to sign in to your Twitter account on other devices or apps, visit your applications page to generate a temporary password to log in and authorize that application.

If you choose not to opt in you run risk of getting hacked. Of course, you also need to keep your phone numbers up-to-date. If that changes, you might have problems getting into your accounts.

If your Twitter Gets Hacked

First, attempt to change your password. If you still can’t log in, contact Twitter through a Support request. (choosing “Hacked account” from the list of options).

Robot Underpants #102 – 05.22.13

Mat “Langley” Luschek, Eric Rice and “Starman” Michael Gaines have your latest GIF news, reports on what the internet is complaining about this week ( Xbox, Flickr, and Tumblr) Dan Akroyd is still trying to push for Ghostbusters 3, and a new segment called “Things We Can’t Talk About”

* Ghostbusters 3 News

* Old Doctor Who

Pandora adds a pair of new updates

pandora logoPandora is perhaps my favorite music app. In fact, it is the only one I bother subscribing too, paying the small $3.99 per month fee in exchange for unlimited streaming and no ads. This week the company has announced two important new features. One brings customers unreleased music, while the other makes the program more social.

The new Premieres channel is available to all customers — both free, as well as paid subscribers. Premieres looks to bring customers new music before the albums are released. Each week Pandora plans to add albums a week in advance of their commercial release — beginning this week with former CCR singer John Fogerty and English folk musician Laura Marling.

Customers will be able to stream any, and all, songs from the upcoming music releases an unlimited number of times. The service promises new music available every week.

On iPhone, Android, and pandora.com, customers can now choose to automatically publish their Pandora music activity to Facebook, which will populate the musical identity in Facebook’s newly launched music section. A quick toggle on the user’s phone or press of a button on the web and they are ready to go.

Both features are available right now for web-based and mobile customers. Both enhancements will also work for all customers, regardless if they have a free or paid account.

XBox One: The Next XBox Game Console

XBox One Game Console

XBox One Game Console

Microsoft unveiled the next-generation console in the XBox One at a live event that was broadcast on not only Xbox.com but also Spike TV. Many details were left out – which we’ll find out at next month’s E3 gaming conference. These are the details we do know.

XBox One with Kinect

The console is sold as one unit. XBox One looks to be the size of a VCR-DVD combo machine. XBox One will have HDMI In/Out support (so you can connect your cable box to the XBox One ), 2 USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet connection and S/PDIF support. XBox One will come with a 8-core CPU, Blu-Ray drive, and 8 GB of RAM.

The Kinect also looks bigger than its previous version. Sporting a 1080p camera and USB 3.0 support, the Kinect can stream data to the console faster. Kinect also has a wider field of view and it’s motion capture abilities have been improved. Basically it can tell if you hand is facing palm side up or down and can turn with it.

XBox One Controller

At first look, the controller seems to be the same – but that is not true. The new controller has an integrated battery compartment, uses impulse force-feedback triggers and is all controlled using Wifi signals. The battery compartment is integrated, so no double-As are needed.

xbox one controller

Games and More Coming with XBox One

Legendary director Steven Spielberg has signed on to produce a “Halo” Live action TV series. This is XBox Entertainment Studios direction in applying the game model to producing original video programming. Movies, sitcoms and live events will be streamed from XBox One.

In addition, we learned about Call of Duty: Ghosts. The next installment of the franchise video game from Activision adds a revamped multiplayer experience. The new visual engine lets gamers get closer to objects such as guns and other items they pick up.

Finally, the NFL worked out a deal with XBox to give sports fans and fantasy football fans an added bonus. During the game, fantasy football stats will update in real-time so you can call your buddies via Skype to “rub it in their faces”.

No Price Set for XBox One

Unfortunately, the only thing Microsoft didn’t divulge was the price.

Goodbye, Google Checkout. Closing November 20th

Google-CheckoutI remember when Google launched Checkout almost 7 years ago (June 29, 2006). The idea of combining checkout with search and advertising so you could online shop faster (and possibly buy more stuff) was an intriguing idea. I guess it just didn’t work too well.

Google announced they will retire Checkout payment processing tool on Nov. 20, and warned retailers they will need to move to a different payment processing platform.

Of course, we saw the writing on the wall as Checkout merged with Wallet back in November. Google hoped it would take on Paypal – which dominates online payment services at this time. Wallet is not going away – in fact it will become the focus of its Google Play store. Merchants will also be able to apply for Wallet’s “Instant Buy” feature.

Justin Lawyer, Senior Product Manager of Wallet posted on the blog that “shoppers can continue to use Google Wallet to make purchases on merchant apps and sites (such as Priceline, Uber, and Rue La La), as well as on Google properties, such as Google Play and Chrome Web Store. Just look for the Google Wallet button to make safer and more secure payments.”