Monthly Archives: July 2015

You can delete Samsung's phone bloatware in China

You can delete Samsung's phone bloatware in China

Samsung isn’t waiting around for the verdict of a Chinese lawsuit over bloatware to take action. The company will offer patches in August that let local Android phone owners delete unwanted pre-installed apps on both the Galaxy Note 3, the example cited in the suit, as well as more recent phones like the Galaxy S6. It’s not clear just which apps you can purge, but it’s safe to presume that many of the non-essential apps are now eligible.

Not that this necessarily lets Samsung off the hook. The Shanghai Consumer Council is waiting to see if Samsung will “meet its own promise” before dropping its legal action, and it’s even threatening to expand its campaign if the Galaxy maker drops the ball. Either way, this won’t mean much if you live outside of China — that American or British smartphone will still have just as much non-removable cruft as it does today.

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Yahoo's latest purchase is digital fashion community Polyvore

Yahoo's latest purchase is digital fashion community Polyvore

Marissa Mayer opened up the Yahoo warchest once again, and this time it was to buy the “leading social shopping site,” Polyvore. Yahoo’s purchasing the whole kit and caboodle from the sounds of it too with Mayer writing on her Tumblr page that it’s acquiring not just the service, but the team that built it as well. She says the purchase will work to bolster Yahoo’s digital content growth and that current CEO Jess Lee (apparently a Polyvore community member prior to joining the company proper) will report directly to her. And if you’re a current Polyvore enthusiast yourself, it doesn’t sound like too much should change aside from where current employees report for work — we’ll let you know if those turn out to be offices for ants.

[Image credit: Pink Cow Photography/Flickr]

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Yahoo buys image recognition firm IQ Engines to reorganize Flickr

Yahoo buys image recognition firm IQ Engines to reorganize Flickr

Flickr is a killer resource for photographers of all stripes, but navigating through its massive photo catalog is far from elegant. Hopefully, Yahoo’s purchase of IQ Engines can change that. According to the image recognition startup’s website, IQ will be applying its skills to improving photo organization and search functionality to the online photo repository. Maybe its first order of business will be arranging all of Yahoo’s new logos.

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Security researcher: Globalstar GPS at risk of hackers

Security researcher: Globalstar GPS at risk of hackers

As is the case with seemingly anything that connects to the internet these days, a security researcher has found that GPS devices which connect to the Globalstar satellite network are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle hacking. According to Synack Inc researcher Colby Moore, who is presenting his findings next week at BlackHat, transmissions within this system are not encrypted. This means they can be intercepted and altered between the sender and recipient — not good when you’re trying to find survivors after a natural disaster. What’s more, Moore states that the flaw is a fault in the system’s architecture and one that is nearly impossible to patch.

Millions of devices already run on the Globalstar system. It’s employed by private citizens and major corporations alike. And, according to Moore, likely already has a few intelligence agencies listening in to boot. There’s no word on whether other private GPS satellite systems, such as Iridium or Inmarsat, are equally vulnerable.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pincasso]

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Blogger brings Azerothian fashion trends to the real world

Blogger brings Azerothian fashion trends to the real world
One of our pals from Massively.com, Jeremy Stratton, pointed us in the direction of the tumblr Azerothian Appearance. While there are countless tumblrs, blogs, and other fansites compiling in-game outfits for transmogrification, this one has turned its gaze toward looking good in the real world. Using the web fashion tool Polyvore, Azerothian Appearance sets out to recreate World of Warcraft‘s in-game clothing trends in the real world.

Don’t expect to find a set of rogue tier 9 in the real world, but there are certainly themes, styles, and colors that can be used as inspiration for a more Earthly, less fantastical outfit. Some of Azerothian Appearance’s attempts are better than others. Tyrande (seen above), the aforementioned rogue tier 9, and an outfit based on the aesthetics of Crystalsong Forest all look great, but the Stormrider’s Regalia … perhaps not so great.

Go show Azerothian Appearance some love, and come up with some of your own WoW-inspired outfits! I would, but I have the fashion sense of a dog with mange.


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Marine Corps finally declares the F-35B ready for combat

Marine Corps finally declares the F-35B ready for combat

After years of testing and development, production setbacks and cost overruns and more than half a trillion dollars invested, the F-35B fighter jet has finally passed its biggest milestone to date: it’s achieved initial operational capability (IOC) within the US Marine Corps. That means that the F-35B can now be deployed around the world and employed in active combat.

Marine Corps finally declares the F-35B ready for combatDeveloped by Lockheed Martin, the F-35B Lightning II is a fifth generation fighter similar to the F-22. The B designates it as the Marine’s variant and, as such, is outfitted with a short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) system. The Marines plan to buy about 340 of these jets (and another 80 of the C models) to replace the outgoing F/A-18 Hornet. The F-35B is expected to engage in “close air support, offensive and defensive counter-air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance as part of a Marine Air Ground Task Force, or in support of the Joint Force,” Gen. Joe Dunford, outgoing Marine Corps commandant, said in a statement.

This milestone is even more impressive given the growing pains that the F-35 line endured. The program experienced numerous delays and cost overruns almost as soon as the first prototype took off in 2006. Between 2007 and 2008 foreign spies reportedly got their hands on several terabytes technical specs related to the F-35′s design and electronics. By 2010, the program had exceeded its initial budget by more than 50 percent. And by 2012, the entire Department of Defense was so tired of delays that it reduced its operational requirements for the jets just so they wouldn’t have to go through another redesign.

The first F-35B is expected to deploy in 2017 to Iwakuni, Japan. The Air Forces F-35A variant is expected to be operational this Fall and the carrier-based C variant, which both the Navy and Marines will use, is expected sometime in 2018.

[Image Credit: Associated Press]

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Kim Dotcom promises to launch an open-source competitor to Mega

Kim Dotcom promises to launch an open-source competitor to Mega

Third time’s a charm. Kim Dotcom — creator of Megaupload and Mega file-sharing sites, New Zealand politician, US fugitive — plans to launch a third cloud-storage company when his existing non-compete clause runs out at the end of the year. Dotcom briefly outlined his plans for a new site in a Slashdot user interview, saying, “I will create a Mega competitor that is completely open source and non-profit, similar to the Wikipedia model. I want to give everyone free, unlimited and encrypted cloud storage with the help of donations from the community to keep things going.”

Dotcom added that he doesn’t trust Mega, a company he founded in 2013, now that the New Zealand government has control of the site. He claims a corrupt Chinese investor purchased enough shares in Mega to take over the company, but the New Zealand government recently seized all of the investor’s shares, transferring control to itself.

“In addition Hollywood has seized all the Megashares in the family trust that was setup for my children,” he says. “As a result of this and a number of other confidential issues I don’t trust Mega anymore. I don’t think your data is safe on Mega anymore.” Of course, someone planning to launch a direct competitor to Mega would say something like that.

While his claims of a hostile takeover remain unverified, Dotcom plans to release a detailed breakdown of Mega’s status next week, he said in a tweet today.


I will issue a detailed statement about the status of #Mega next week. Then you can make an educated decision if you still want to use it.

— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) July 31, 2015

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HBO is selling 'Game of Thrones' S5 downloads earlier than usual

HBO is selling 'Game of Thrones' S5 downloads earlier than usual

In another sign that HBO is trying to convert some of the numerous Game of Thrones pirates into paying customers, the network announced that season five will be the first one available for downloaders to own before it hits DVD and Blu-ray. It’s actually going on sale via download way before the discs, with a digital release of season five due August 31st, just two months after the finale aired. The Blu-ray version is still on deck for next March as usual, but you can pre-order the digital season pass (including extras, listed after the break) from outlets like Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and Google Play for $39 (HD) — unless of course you live in another country like Australia, where season five has been on sale since it finished airing, or are already subscribing to HBO Now. Of course, you don’t really need to hurry, as HBO announced during yesterday’s TCA panel that it expects the series to last about eight seasons.


Send a raven. For the first time, #GoTSeason5 is available early for digital download on 8/31. http://t.co/7uGr0IlWK0 pic.twitter.com/xvQcj92CNS

— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) July 30, 2015

Game of Thrones S5 extras (* marks digital exclusives)

  • Introduction to Dorne* – Visit the kingdom of Dorne in this special that delves inside the impressive realm and its many colorful characters, including Prince Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) and the fiery Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her venomous Sand Snakes (Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers and Jessica Henwick).
  • Poisons of Westeros* – Explore the devious methods of poisoning seen throughout Game of Thrones in this featurette.
  • Invitation to the Set – Visit the set of Game of Thrones for this intriguing preview.
  • A Day in the Life – Glimpse the epic scale of Game of Thrones in this featurette that spends one day touring various Season 5 sets in Croatia, Spain and Ireland. See cast members preparing to shoot scenes while prominent members of the show’s massive crew talk about the many jobs they must oversee-sets and costumes, hair and makeup, and much more-to keep the production operating smoothly.
  • Set Design – Production designer Deborah Riley reveals the thought process behind the impressive sets used to create the territory of Dorne in Season 5.
  • The Weapons of Dorne – Game of Thrones weapons master Tommy Dunne takes a close-up look at the razor-sharp armaments he created for the Sand Snakes and other inhabitants of Dorne in this featurette.
  • New Characters & Locations – Take a tour of the new locations in Season 5 and meet some of the new players in this featurette. Included are visits to the sets of Dorne and the House of Black and White as well as introductions to Doran Martell, the Sand Snakes, the High Sparrow, and more.
  • Season 4 Recap – Revisit every twist and turn from the thrilling fourth season.
  • Trailer – Whet your appetite for Season 5 with this exhilarating glimpse at things to come

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The best of Public Access Vol.7: online security and Android frustrations

The best of Public Access Vol.7: online security and Android frustrations

Microsoft set the world on fire this week with the release of Windows 10 as a free download for existing Windows users. And in our review of the OS, we found that Edge, Windows 10′s new web browser, is a sleek and speedy onramp to the information superhighway. Simply upgrading to the latest and greatest software doesn’t make you impervious to harm on the internet, however, so last week we asked you to share how you stay secure online. Caroline Leopold doles out some handy tips for password management and stresses the importance of HTTPS. Meanwhile, Jess James has a bone to pick with Google’s all-encompassing power over Android, and Bob Summerwill thinks we could all be more efficient at our jobs if we eliminated synchronous operations from the workplace and embraced asynchronous communication instead.

Since we’ve told you what we think of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows, we want to hear your thoughts too. This week, tell us if you’ve taken advantage of Satya Nadella’s largesse to grab a copy, and what you think of Win10. If you’re a Windows person, but don’t plan to upgrade, well, tell us why not? And finally, if you’re a Mac user, are you tempted to leave the cozy confines of OS X?

P.S. The homepage is coming soon! in the meantime you can check out the latest from Public Access right here. Not a member? Apply, and keep the weird alive.

Recommended Reading

“Well guess what? Our work “work streams” suffer from exactly the same concurrency problems as computers, because these patterns are the nature of the beast for any coordinated activities, whether that is in digital form for computers or in organization form for team activities within corporations.”

Read the rest of Why I will probably refuse your meeting request and not answer my phone by Bob Summerwill

“One of the biggest security risks is when you are using an unsecured Wifi hotspot. Hackers can collect all of the data you sending, including private emails, credit card information and security information. Then, hackers take that information and masquerade as you, which can cause havoc to your bank account and compromises your identity.”

Read the rest of How-to: stay secure online by Caroline Leopold

“And so, when I put inserted my SD card all excited that my awesome solution was imminent, and headed giddy and breathless into the configuration of my Google Music app (and my camera app, for that matter), to tell it to use my SD card I was met with nothing but a greyed out button and the bitter sting of disappointment.”

Read the rest of Digital Therapy: share your most frustrating tech moments by Jess James

Your Dose of Inspiration

Microsoft has finally made Windows 10 available to the world, and upgrading is free for existing users. Critics’ responses has been good, but we want to know if you’re on board the Win10 train, and what you think of the OS. If you’re not, well, we want to know that too. And, if you’re a dyed in the wool Mac fan, are you now tempted to take the Microsoft plunge? Why or why not?

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Microsoft Windows 10

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  • Reviews 9

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  • Type Computer OS
  • Source model Closed
  • Architecture 64-bit, 32-bit
  • Released 2015-07-29

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8.9average user rating
  • Ease of use 8.9
  • Speed 8.7
  • Configurability 8.2
  • Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.) 8.5
  • Openness 8.8

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These disposable vapes let you huff your caffeine instead of drink it

These disposable vapes let you huff your caffeine instead of drink it

Dammit, Logan. I’m glad it’s your first day working at this coffee shop; congrats on getting hired and all. But dude, seriously, I don’t have time to waste waiting for you to fish that beard hair out of my coffee. I’m “latte” enough for work as it is. That’s why, for a full week, I tried switching from my normal intake of three to four caffeinated beverages a day to Eagle Energy caffeine vaporizers. Oof, my heart is still racing.

Eagle Energy vapes are self-contained atomizers that operate much like Blu disposable e-cigs or the Blackout X hash pens, except that it’s loaded with caffeine instead of nicotine or THC. Each EE pen measures about five inches in length and is maybe a half-inch in diameter. Inside, a small reservoir holds about 3ml of liquid and 0.08 percent caffeine per milliliter. This liquid passes through a small atomizer driven by a non-rechargeable lithium ion battery where it is converted into a vapor and inhaled.

According to the included documentation, regular coffee drinkers will need about 10-20 puffs to notice the effects — a figure I found to be pretty accurate during my testing. Each pen is rated to last about 500 puffs before the battery conks out, which seems about right as well.

These disposable vapes let you huff your caffeine instead of drink it

Eagle Energy’s kick comes from a mixture of caffeine (guarana extract), taurine and ginseng — basically the same stuff as in a Red Bull. Unsurprisingly, these things taste uncannily like the popular energy drink. The vapor does not, however, contain sugar or calories. But man, these pens gave me heartburn something awful. Even when huffing the recommended number of times over a three- to five-minute span, I immediately felt as if I’d just chugged a Big Gulp’s worth of espresso or a carton of apple juice on an empty stomach.

I also noticed that the kick didn’t last as long as a standard cup of coffee. I mean I typically average a 350 ml mug of Peet’s Major Dickason blend every hour for the first three hours of my workday with each cup’s effects lasting around an hour. According to Caffeine Informer, a 16-ounce cup of this blend contains 267 mg of caffeine. As such, Eagle Energy’s kick isn’t nearly as potent as the coffee’s. There isn’t the sip-sip-wheeeeeomgthisisawesomeImhavingeverythoughtinthewoooooooorld feeling you get with a good cup of coffee. It’s subtler and less of a jolt, though that also means there’s less of a crash later.

Overall, I rather like these things. They’re obviously never going to be a 1-to-1 replacement for my morning coffee and I can’t absentmindedly puff on it as I would a hash pen, but for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or an emergency morning kickstart, you could do worse. Eagle Energy is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to fund both the 3-pack and 10-pack options, although the company’s rep has assured me that it will move forward with the 3-packs regardless of whether the campaign funds. They’re expected to retail for $9 apiece, $20 a 3-pack and $75 for 10.

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