Teens & Amazon #1232



You can now set your Teens up with and Account at Amazon and control the purchasing process. I would think most parents already do this as I demand cash before approval of my teens purchase. Purchasing without getting pre-approval at my house has serious consenqences. Such is the digital world we live in. Ohh confession I had to do some Audio editing tonight.

You have heard me talk about proximity beacons. I know now how to do it with minimal investment! This course that I endorse and have used successfully is the gateway to deploying proximity beacons for Android.

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The Smart nCube Home



The smart home marketplace is growing rapidly at the moment with new entrants on an almost daily basis. The original “one-trick ponies” like Hue, Nest, Hive and Ring are expanding their single USP feature into a portfolio of smart devices, and well-known electronics companies like Belkin and Panasonic are setting up shop too. Most of these big names sell their own branded accessories creating a small ecosystem and a straightforward user experience. Once familiar with the smart home space, it’s easy to spot that the branded accessories are often rebadged OEM items from specialists.

Underneath the big names, there is a veritable housing development of home automation hubs, including Fibaro, Cozify and nCube, each with their own speciality. Finnish Cozify has more radios than most and works with devices using 433 MHz, whereas Polish outfit Fibaro excel at the user interface with dedicated touchpads and visual controls.

British outfit nCube are notable for three things. First, the hub is blue which makes a change from the usual white; second, they only make the the hub and connect to other manufacturer’s sensors and systems; third, all local processing is done on the nCube hub, ensuring privacy and retaining personal information at home. It also means that it’s not a big problem if the internet connection goes down. Yes, interfaces to other cloud-based systems won’t work, but other activities will continue as normal, e.g. turning on a power socket at a certain time.

As nCube Home doesn’t make anything other than the hub, they connect to a wide variety of other people’s gear, with support for over 120 devices. For Z-Wave gear, nCube works with Everspring, Popp, Fibaro, TKB, Philio, Danfoss and Aeotec, covering heating, lighting, sensing, switching and alarms. As expected, nCube integrates with other home automation systems such as Hue, Nest, LIFX, Sonos and Belkin. Amazon’s Alexa now has an nCube skill, so you can talk to nCube via Echo and Echo Dot.

Done right, this is a great opportunity for an open system giving more choice to the consumer.

As expected, nCube have an app for iOS and Android, bringing together all the devices and controls into a single convenient home. “Cubes” is their term for automation, which could be a command like, “At 7am turn the bedside light on and play music at 20% volume.” Security features can be built in Cubes too, “If water’s detected under the sink, send a text message.”

Originally a Kickstarter project, nCube Home is based around the Raspberry Pi. I interviewed nCube back in 2016 at the Wearable Technology Show and the hub was just about to come to market. You can listen to the interview on Geek News Central.

The nCube Home can be purchased from nCube for GB£149.


Flattr will Launch a New Version Soon



Flattr was designed to help people sustainably fund the content that they love. It lets people reward their favorite creators, and it gives creators an easy way to make money from their work. Flattr will launch a new version on October 24, 2017.

The Flattr button is history. It is being replaced with a privacy-friendly algorithm. Instead of clicking a button to give money to your favorite content creators, Flattr users will need to install the Flattr browser extension, which will automatically flattr the websites you visit, based on engagement.

Flattr is also moving from their wallet system and to a system of credit card subscription payments. They feel this change simplifies the communication around the details of using Flattr. When the new Flattr is launched, it will require USD currency (instead of the Euro that Flattr was previously accepting.) Creators will receive money from Flattr in US dollars starting from October.

The subscriptions are going to run for 30 days instead of per calendar month. This change appears to be to benefit creators. Previously, new creators were starting with less than a full month. This change also helps Flattr, because it spreads out the timing of payments to creators instead of having it all happen at the same time.

Flattr is also changing its fee structure. Creators that receive money will be charged a monthly fee of 7.5%. They also will be charged a payment processing fee of 9%. This change is being done because Flattr changed to US currency and implemented a credit card based subscription – and this caused their payment processing fees to increase.


Niantic has a Pokémon GO AR Photo Contest



Niantic announced that it is holding a Pokémon GO AR Photo Contest. The contest is extremely easy to enter and involves taking an AR photo of any Pokémon that is in a “real-world” environment. There are prizes associated with this contest. The AR photo contest started on October 11, 2017, and will end on October 25, 2017.

Starting today, we’re challenging you to snap epic Pokémon GO AR photos and post them on Instagram using the hashtag #PokemonGOcontest. If your AR photo is selected as one of the top 10 submissions, you’ll win a Pokémon GO Prize Pack containing a Pokémon GO Plus, a poster autographed by the Pokémon GO team, and wireless Bluetooth earbuds. You have until October 25 to submit your best AR photo, so go on an adventure, take a photo, and share it with us on Instagram!

As always, it is a good idea to take the time to read the official rules (which are located on the same page as the contest announcement). Here are a few key things to know:

To be eligible for the contest, the entrant must be at least the age of majority in their country, state, province, or jurisdiction of residence (and at least 20 years old in Taiwan) at the time of entry.

Entrants must not be a resident of a country where Pokémon GO has not been officially released as of October 11, 2017.

Entrants must use the augmented reality (AR) camera feature of the Pokémon GO app on their mobile device that displays their capture of a Pokémon as they use the Pokémon GO app.

Photos where an individual appears in or is identifiable in the photo will not be considered and will be deemed void.

Niantic strongly encourages entrants to use caution when taking photos in connection with the contest. They do not condone taking photos in areas or dangerous situations that may involve certain health related risks, including risk of physical injury. Niantic does not want entrants to trespass on private property.

There are 10 Grand Prizes available.


Equifax Loss of Public Trust #1231



Equifax Loss of Public trust is complete today with another security concern, along with loosing their IRS contract. You know when the IRS cancels it’s a big big deal. I get you all caught up on what has been going on since the last show. Not a lot I can share but i promise it’s all good. Burning the candle on both ends as usual. Glad to be back.

You have heard me talk about proximity beacons. I know now how to do it with minimal investment! This course that I endorse and have used successfully is the gateway to deploying proximity beacons for Android.

My New Personal YouTube Channel
Geek News Central Facebook Page.
Download the Audio Show File

Support my Show Sponsor:
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$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
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Proximity Beacons for Android Course.

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Overwatch Halloween Terror Event has Started



The Overwatch Halloween Terror 2017 event started on October 10, 2017, and will end on November 1, 2017. Some pieces of the event had been leaked prior to its start day. Blizzard Entertainment now has a page full of official information about it.

For the next three weeks, we’re celebrating the spookiest time of the year with a seasonal event. Expand your collection of seasonal-themed items and relieve a chilling tale in our PVE brawl: Junkenstein’s Revenge.

This year, we’ve added a new endless mode for Junkenstein’s Revenge, with leaderboards to commemorate those who last the longest in their fight against the evil doctor. Plus, unlock over 50 seasonal items – including the new legendary skins like Dracula Reaper, Van Helsing McCree, Totally 80s Zarya, and Dragon Symmetra – alongside last year’s Halloween Terror gear.

In Junkenstein’s Revenge, you can team up with three other players and fight Junkenstein and his Monster, along with other enemies such as the Summoner, the Reaper, and Witch of the Wilds.

The Endless Night event is new this year. Play as one of four additional heroes: Genji, Torbjorn, Widowmaker, or Zenyatta. The goal is to survive as long as possible against wave after wave of enemies and bosses that assault the castle doors. Those who survive the longest will earn a spot on the all-new leaderboard.

Overwatch players can now purchase a Halloween Terror Loot Box. They are filed with new skins, emotes, highlights, avatars, sprays, voice lines, and more. It is also possible to buy items that you missed from last year’s event with credits for a discounted price. Blizzard states that there are over 140 cosmetic items available. As you might expect, the Halloween Terror Loot Box will only be around for a limited time.


Two New Rokus for UK



After a very long wait, Roku are bringing two new models to the UK market with the Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick+.

While North America fans have enjoyed new models for over a year, the UK has lagged behind with long-standing Roku 2 and 3 models: owners of 4K TVs have had to look elsewhere for their ultra high definition fix. Fortunately the new Roku Streaming Stick+ supports both 4K and HDR up to 60 f/s.

Taking a quick look over the two models, the Roku Express is the second generation of the model and is perfect for standard HD TVs with HDMI. Connectivity is provided by b/g/n wifi and there’s an IR remote, so you will need line of sight to control the Express.

The new star of the show is the Roku Streaming Stick+, delivering 4K UHD with HDR via 802.11ac dual-band MIMO wifi. The advanced wireless remote allows the stick to be mounted behind the TV, plus there are now buttons to turn the TV on/off and control the volume.

To showcase 4K content, a 4K Spotlight Channel will offer instant access to 4K movies and TV shows from various streaming channels. Both remotes have channel shortcut buttons too.

The Roku Express is one of our most popular streaming players and we are excited to bring it to the UK. It is a great starting point for first time streamers or for people looking to extend the Roku experience to other TVs,” said Chas Smith, general manager of Roku TVs and players. “Consumers will love our new sleek Roku Streaming Stick+ with an innovative advanced wireless receiver that gives up to four times the wireless range and a remote that controls TV volume and power. At £79.99, it makes HD, 4K and HDR streaming simple.

Of course, the free complementary Roku app for iOS and Android provides all the usual Roku features including streaming media from a mobile device to the TV, remote control, voice search and private listening.

Available from 18th October online with retail availability shortly afterwards, the Roku Express costs GB£29.99 whereas the Streaming Stick+ comes in at £79.99. Put one on your Christmas list.


DiskaShur 2 Secure Encrypted Portable Hard Drive



Laptops are data gold mines that criminals love to target. Due to my regular travel schedule, I have always put the majority of my media on external secure drives. I have used just about everything in the book when it comes to encryption and many of those tools are painful to use and often slow. For many years I carried an external Hard-Drive that required a biometric finger swipe to unlock. It was always a pain as I would have to swipe three or four times to get it to unlock. The folks at iStorage contacted me about there new DiskaShur 2 Secure Encrypted Hard Drive and over the past two weeks, I have been using it while on travel.

This is a device that I am honest requires few words to explain how to use it but the details of what it does is simply incredible. The DiskaShur 2 they sent for review was a 500gb drive that unlocked by entering an 8 digit pin and clicking unlock on the drive.  The instructions to change the default pin are clear and concise and foolproof so that you will not brick the device in the process. It works with any operating system that can attach a drive via USB 3.0

But what blew me away was the level they go to encrypt the data on the Hard-Drive and protect the data once it’s copied to the drive.  This thing is like Fort Knox just reading the security precautions they put in place, makes you realize that this product is in a class of its own. Let me try to summarize the features and in all honesty to get the full perspective you need to read their full product page.

  • EDGETM (Enhanced Dual Generating Encryption) Technology – built-in FIPS PUB 197 validated AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption engine. The data encryption key is randomly generated by a Common Criteria EAL4+ ready Random Number Generator and protected by FIPS validated wrapping algorithms.
  • FIPS PUB 197 Validated Encryption Algorithm – Employing AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, the iStorage diskAshur2 seamlessly encrypts all data on the drive in real-time, keeping your data safe even if the hard drive is removed from its enclosure.
  • USB 3.1
  • Brute Force Hack Defence Mechanism – That destroys all data on the drive after a set number of incorrect password entries.
  • Drive Reset Feature – Which employs a useful drive reset feature, which can be implemented with a unique command. This clears all PINs and data and resets the drive to be redeployed.
  • Unattended Auto-Lock Feature
  • Tamper Proof Design – Any hacker trying to get to the electronics as everything is covered in a tough epoxy.
  • Data at rest protection – All data, PINs, and encryption keys are always encrypted while at rest.
  • Wear Resistant Epoxy Coated Keypad – Prevents keypad wear in allowing someone to determine keys utilized

So far as performance goes when the drive is unlocked it is fast and there is no slow down in copying information to the drive. But with a single click I can lock the drive down or in the worse case scenario I can enter the self-destruct pin and all data is cleared from the drive and is non-recoverable.

iStorage DiskaShur 2 Hard Drive Prices starting at around $210 dollars you really cannot go wrong. If you do not want to carry an external drive they also have USB sticks that employ the same technology. My goal is to make it hard as possible for a criminal to get to my data. So while my laptop may be the main target in a room robbery. Even if they get my secure hard-drive they are not going to spend the time and resources to get the information as they really put forth some incredible security barriers to do so.  This is the security product that you will find being carried in my computer bag where I can be at ease, knowing that my data is secure.


Call of Duty Halloween Scream Event has Started



Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has added a bunch of fun, Halloween related, things to the game. The event is called “Willard Wyler’s Halloween Scream” and it will last until November 1, 2017.

A press release states that this community event will allow players to acquire all-new Halloween-themed loot, to participate in XP-boosting events, to play through a new zombies mode and to receive exclusive free items that are only available during the event.

The Halloween Scream event includes:

  • Free Halloween-themed cosmetic item every Friday, along with one final gift on October 30, 2017.
  • Halloween-themed gear and loot, including brand-new zombie-themed Rig skins, available to earn
  • “Boss Battle” mode, which starts on October 13, 2017. It allows players to take on their favorite final bosses from each of the Infinite Warfare zombies modes. It begins with the first chapter, Zombies in Spaceland, and continues with the following chapters becoming available, two per week, ending with the ultimate battle in The Beast from Beyond. (Players must own DLC packs to access DLC chapters.)
  • Return of Gesture Warfare multiplayer mode to celebrate Halloween, which runs now through October 12, 2017, and allows fans to use gestures to humiliate and annihilate their opponents.
  • Carnage, a fan-favorite multiplayer map from the Retribution DLC pack, free to play and with double XP for all players from October 12, 2017, through November 1, 2017.


Keep Prying Eyes Away with the InvizBox 2



Perhaps I’m just old and suspicious, but I’m increasingly concerned about the personal information that I give away to companies like Google and Facebook for their services. I’ve had enough of being the product. As for the information gathered surreptitiously by third parties, such as ISPs and government agencies, I’ve had enough of snooping and I don’t accept that if I’ve nothing to fear, I’ve nothing to hide. It’s simply none of their business.

Consequently, I’m working on a couple of strategies to mitigate my exposure, including some fake personas for simple things like compulsory registrations. While I’m not a social media superstar, I’m present on most social media platforms and it’ll take time to balance out the public and private. Fortunately in the UK, it’s not illegal to take a new identity unless the intention is criminal (so I’m told).

On a more practical side, I’ve already signed up for protonmail.com to secure my email correspondence and I’m going to move away from the big name providers in a gradual process. The other area of interest is VPNs and for those who aren’t in the know, a VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It hides your activity from the owner or maintainer of any local network connection – think of it as an opaque pipe within a transparent tube – so it’s good for protecting against both nosy ISPs wanting to sell your browsing history, and defending against nefarious activity on public wifi hotspots.

I’ve been tinkering with some of the software-based VPNs both for both mobile and home use as my ISP provided-modem/router doesn’t have any VPN capability. Software solutions are fine if you have one or two devices, but when you’ve umpteen tablets and laptops in the house, it’s a pain.

An alternative is a dedicated VPN hardware solution and this Kickstarter campaign from InvizBox caught my eye. Simply, the InvizBox 2 is a wireless access point that connects to your home router, and then encrypts all the traffic over a VPN (or the Tor network). There’s no need for individual configuration as everything that connects to the access point benefits from the VPN. Your local ISP is then completely unable to track your activities and sell them on. Even better, the ISP can’t throttle your traffic based on type of use, or use of competing services.

Obviously these are benefits enjoyed by all VPNs, but as a neat hardware package, the InvizBox 2 looks attractive. Other features on the InvizBox 2 include ad blocking and parental controls. The latter is useful as the VPN will bypass any controls implemented on your router or by your ISP, so you might need to defend against inquisitive teens. You can get round geo-blocking too – that’s where you can’t see some content because you are visiting from the wrong country. As with most VPNs, a regular subscription is required (allow around US$5 / €5 per month) but there are some deals there too.

The standard InvizBox 2 is currently at €109 and the Pro is €149 if you get in quick, both with a year of VPN service. Other deals are available and delivery is expected in April next year. The team has already hit their goal of €50,000 and there’s still a week to go, so the project is going to be funded. As background, the InvizBox team are based in Dublin, Ireland and have a track record of delivery from previous Kickstarters, so there’s a good level of confidence. However, as with all Kickstarter campaigns, consider yourself a patron rather than a customer until the product is in your hands.

I might actually plonk down some cash for this….