Beware: Fake Google + Invitations

Posted by Eric Torres

Jul 11, 2011 3:48:00 PM

describe the imageWhenever people desperately want something, criminals have always come up with ways to rip people off.  It's a practice as old as time.

The Google+ invite frenzy has prompted some devious spammers to send out fake invitations.  Sophos, a cyber securities firm, first reported this spam.

Gmail users would receive a Google+ invite that looks like the real thing.  Except when you click on the link to the Google+ invite, it leads you to a completely different website, riddled with malware.

This isn't the first time that insane demand for Google products spawned scams.  Back when Gmail membership was an exclusive club and a hot item, spammers sent existing Gmail users a notice that Google had just given them 50 extra invites.

All they have to do is fill out a form with their Gmail password.

Apple, was also used as bait.  Back before the iPad was released, bogus Facebook pages were set up to ask users to be beta testers; they would get the iPad in advance and then keep it for free.

All these Apple fans had to do was provide their personal information and cell phone number.  Their cell phone number was subsequently enrolled in an expensive premium service.

For active Internet users, scams and spams are a fact of life.  Abiding by the following guidelines, however, will lessen the pain.

  • Don't respond to sweet offers that you didn't pursue or don't know the origin of, whether it's a Google+ invite or a millionaire trying to give away his fortunes.
  • Don't ever give out your personal information to email requests from scammers posing as legitimate entities.  Legitimate entities will never ask you that; the only time they might prompt you for personal information is when you approach them do something.
  • Too good to be true offers do not exist. For example, somebody looking to share the wealth of somebody who has no "next of kin"...does not happen in real life. If you're not sure, don't go for it, especially if you have to provide your personal information or grant access to your computer in exchange for it.
The best way to prevent this is to pay attention and be aware of what sites you are visiting and links you are clicking on. When you enter in password, personal, account, or credit card information, double check to make sure you are on a reputable website. Double check the URL and make sure the URL address is what you think it is. Double check the website you are on to make sure there is nothing suspicious so you won’t fall prey to these scams.

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Topics: New Service, SPAM, new website, Google, New Products, Social Media, Malware, Beta

Call Your Facebook Friends Free with T-Mobile’s Bobsled

Posted by Eric Torres

Apr 20, 2011 10:45:00 AM

After rumors that Skype and Facebook were in talks to add Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capability to Facebook chat, coming from nowhere, the newly released Bobsled app by T-Mobile just jumped at this opportunity by providing free voice calling to Facebook members worldwide.  Days of calling people with a phone number are numbered.

Bobsled by T-Mobile

T-Mobile has announced a new service named Bobsled and that is worth getting excited about. Why? Because it means that you can make free voice calls through Facebook — even if you're not a T-Mobile customer.

Once you install the app (powered by Vivox), a little phone will appear by online friends’ screen names of those who have the app installed, and placing a phone call is just a click away. Bobsled takes out the need to dial friends’ numbers, or remember screen names, which is required by Bobsled’s competitors on Google Talk and Skype. You can also leave a voice message for your friends and family when they are not available. The messages can be public by posting a link on your friends wall or they can be marked private and will be sent via Private Message.

Bobsled by T-Mobile Voicemail

Bobsled will eventually be a suite of services but T-Mobile is launching it first as an app for people using PC or Mac computers. According to T-Mobile’s official press release, Brad Duea, Senior Vice President, T-Mobile is confident that the service will continue to expand, possibly even to T-Mobile’s mobile platforms.

“Integrated voice on Facebook is a critical part of our roadmap for Bobsled by T-Mobile and Vivox is the clear leader in this area,” said Duea, “Vivox is a talented and innovative company, and we look forward to a successful partnership with Vivox.”

In the near future, T-Mobile plans to evolve Bobsled by T-Mobile to include video chat, the ability to place VoIP calls to mobile and landline U.S. numbers, and will offer applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier that powers such devices.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the service, visit or look for the free download from Facebook’s mobile app page. From what I can tell, the install is fairly simple and is finished in three steps.

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Topics: New Products, Social Media, Communications, Facebook, VoIP, T-Mobile, Bobsled by T-Mobile

Google Begins Internal Testing of Google Music

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 25, 2011 1:44:00 PM

Google Reportedly Testing Mobile Streaming Music Service 300x190Did you really think Google was going to sit idly by and let Apple’s iTunes dominate the music experience forever? Not a chance.

The internet search giant is taking a major step forward in its expected bid to become a legitimate rival to iTunes.
According to CNET, who cites “music industry sources”, Google Music is being tested internally at Google. These sources also said that the app described in this recent XDA Developers forum, was a “working version of the service, but that the final version could be “much different” than the one recently leaked.

The lucky find by an XDA Developers forum member has suggested that Google's development on its music service has proceeded much faster than many would have expected it to. In a forum post made two weeks ago, the poster claims that he was playing around with a custom Honeycomb ROM for his smartphone, only to find out that the ROM contained a fully working version of Google Music preloaded, complete with cloud syncing capabilities.

According to the CNET report, sources close to the search giant have revealed that Google is already well into the next step of the testing process. Known as 'dog-fooding', it refers to employees being tasked to try or test out a new product or service in order for developers to gather data on how the service might function under typical real world circumstances. Add both findings together, and most users will probably come to the same conclusion - that Google's upcoming online music service is almost ready, and it is only a matter of time before Google Music goes live.

Google Music is widely expected to offer streaming music service that enables users to access their content from any and all connected devices. To me, being the music junkie that I am, this sounds like a godsend. I can’t wait for the day that my music collection, in its entirety, will be cloud-based and available to me on all of my internet connected devices. I also look forward to some healthy competition for iTunes.

Online music sales have been largely dominated by Apple. Competition from a powerful content provider such as Google ought to give iTunes a run for its money, creating more options for all of us. Unfortunately, it seems that Google has its work cut out for them, as CNET's report claims that industry players close to the search giant have identified content availability as the biggest problem faced by Google Music. This is due fundamental differences in Apple's and Google's approach to digital music: unlike Apple, Google is reportedly negotiating with record companies for rights to all music synced to Google's cloud servers, and not just tracks made available for download via Google Music. Sources inside the music industry say Google would have likely introduced the service long ago if not for the negotiations that reportedly continue between the internet behemoth and top record labels.

The music industry, however, is more than eager for an iTunes rival to enter the market. The prospect of an iTunes competitor of Google’s caliber “has music industry executives giddy.”

Needless to say, record companies are understandably wary of Google's unorthodox proposal; this has resulted in delays over content availability for Google Music. Still, one should not overlook the fact that Google has had experience in digital music, and it is entirely possible that Google's approach might come off as the better solution as opposed to Apple's iTunes.

For music lovers like me, we are eagerly waiting to see how this all plays out. How about you? What would you like to see from Google Music that iTunes does not offer?

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Topics: Streaming, Google, New Products, iTunes

Over 5 Million Firefox 4 Downloads in 24 Hours

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 23, 2011 10:58:00 AM

After 12 betas, 1 release candidate, and more than a year of work Mozilla has officially released Firefox 4, the latest version of its popular open-source browser. In the first 24 hours since it has become available, Firefox 4 has been downloaded over 5 million times, according to Mozilla’s official download stats page. In comparison, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 was downloaded 2.35 million times in its first 24 hours of availability.

Available for download on Windows, Linux, and Mac, The new version of Firefox 4 introduces a much-improved user interface, significant performance enhancements, strong support for the latest Web standards, and noteworthy new features like built-in support for synchronizing bookmarks and other browser data.

The new release arrives at a time when the Web is enjoying an unprecedented level of competition and a rapid pace of evolution, with the release of Internet Explorer 9 last week and with a “new kid on the block” steadily gaining market share, Google’s Chrome.

firefox 4 screenshot
Firefox 4 has a dramatically redesigned user interface that's quite a departure from the one seen in previous versions, but it also bears a striking resemblance to Google Chrome. The tabs now sit above the address bar which, combined with the lack of a menu bar, maximizes the amount of screen space devoted to actual web content. A Windows Start menu-style Firefox menu contains the most common menu commands with the Bookmarks menu accessible from the Bookmarks toolbar, if you choose to leave it visible. It's possible to restore a more traditional appearance though, with a menu bar and tabs below the address bar.

Tabbed browsing has been given a makeover with an intriguing new feature called Tab Groups. Multiple windows full of tabs can be managed from a single visual overview without cluttering up your desktop and Task Bar with lots of windows. This is useful if you're addicted to tabbed browsing and juggle tabs related to different tasks and projects. Tabs can be dragged and dropped between groups, groups can named or resized so, for example, more important Tab Groups are bigger than less important ones.

Like Chrome, individual tabs can be 'pinned' so that they can't be closed which is useful for web applications, such as Google Docs, that you might always want accessible. If you start typing the address of a web page that's already open in another tab, Firefox offers to take you to that tab without reloading the page.

Being a loyal Firefox user for years, recently I made the switch to Chrome as my default browser. My decision was based solely on speed, the quicker I can open web pages the better. With Firefox’s new speed enhancements redesigned interface, I might just have to switch back. 

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Topics: New Products, Firefox, Social Web Browser, Browsers, Chrome

Can Your Car Write Emails For You?

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 8, 2011 10:11:00 AM

Here's a technology that may hold some promise for your road warriors: An in-vehicle voice-to-text system that lets drivers dictate email while keeping their hands on the wheel. BMW is showing a prototype of this system, which makes it possible for drivers to edit, send and receive messages using voice commands, reports Bruce Gain at PCWorld.

BMW Voice to text

The main novelty is that you can compose e-mails with the same ease of use that you would have with a PC in an office setting--without taking your eyes off of the road or using your hands. You respond to e-mail by dictating out loud what you want to say while using voice commands for editing functions, such as deleting, moving, or replacing text. For millions of workers who otherwise waste a large percentage of their time driving every day, being able to send and receive e-mails safely while commuting would represent an obvious boost in productivity.

The system, which could be sold as an option in production models within three years, as part of the company's plans to develop voice-activated commands to operate any function that drivers must otherwise activate today by hand. For example, the German luxury carmaker expects eventually to allow drivers to enter search queries on the Internet and to hear search results read out loud by using voice commands as well.

This is just one of BMW's initiatives to bring desktop-like functionality to the automobile by way of voice commands. The company's ConnectedDrive technology lets Blackberry users connect the handset to a dashboard console using Bluetooth, and listen to email and text messages read out loud to them.

Similar in-vehicle communications efforts are underway at other auto manufacturers. Ford offers the Sync infotainment system, which enables some smartphone apps to operate on a console. Future versions expected within five years would let drivers dictate messages and hear email read out loud, Gains writes. GM, for its part, is planning to release an OnStar voice communications feature for Android phone users.

What do you think? How many of you would respond to emails while driving? I know I would.

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Topics: Email, New Products

Apple iPad 2 Features & Specs

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 7, 2011 10:22:00 AM

It’s been long awaited, and it’s now here, or at least it will be March 11. Apple has announced the hotly anticipated second version of its popular iPad, and it has addressed some of the complaints and criticisms of the first generation.

Below is a video by Jason Snell of Macworld and here is his full breakdown of the iPad 2.

The device now boasts not one but two cameras, one for its FaceTime video chat feature and the other for HD video recording. It sports a thinner and lighter design for easier holding during extended periods and offers the same 10-hour battery life as previous models. In addition, it sports a dual core A5 chip.

Does this address all of the complaints of the previous model? No, but the iPad 2 offers plenty to attract new admirers.

Thinner Design
The new iPad is 33% thinner and nearly 15% lighter so it’s more comfortable to hold for extended periods for reading, watching movies, checking e-mail and surfing the Web.

Dual-core A5 Chip
Two cores in the A5 chip makes for a faster experience no matter what you are doing, whether it is playing games, watching movies or making FaceTime video chats. The greater speed also allows for faster app launching and smoother multitasking.

Enhanced Graphics
Apple claims the new iPad has up to nine times the graphics performance for smoother and more realistic gameplay, not to mention scrolling through your photo albums, viewing animations or editing videos in iMovie.

Improved Battery Life
Because of the energy efficiency of the A5 chip and the IOS, the new iPad offers the same 10-hour battery life as the previous version, even with its much slimmer design.

Not One But Two Cameras
Some have questioned whether a webcam would work well on a tablet device, because its lack of a built-in stand would likely result in an annoyingly shaky video, and the awkward size of the iPad would make it difficult to use as a camera for still photos or videos. However, enough people clamored for such a camera that the option on the new iPad is sure to be popular. The camera that faces the screen allows for video chats, while the rear-facing camera captures HD video.

iPad with new cover resized 600

New iPad “Smart Cover”
In addition to the new features, Apple has also introduced a new cover for the iPad 2. The new cover is articulated and hinged to the top edge of the iPad, so that it can be folded up and either used as a stand to hold the iPad in near vertical position or as a typing base to hold the iPad at a slight angle for typing on the virtual keyboard.

The cover is magnetic in design, so it stays put against the glass front of the iPad when closed. The iPad detects when the cover is closed and goes to sleep automatically, and it reawakens when the cover is opened. As if that’s not enough, the cover comes in 10 bright colors. The cover is designed to protect the screen of the iPad without adding bulk to its design, but some users will be disappointed that it doesn’t protect all sides of the device.

LED-Backlit Display
Of course, the iPad sports the same large 9.7 inch high-resolution display as on the first generation (but not the Retina Display like is found on the iPhone 4 — that would probably be prohibitively expensive for a screen the size of the iPad’s). Like previous models, the display features a technology called IPS (in-plane switching) for a wide viewing angle.

Multi-Touch Technology
As with the previous model, the multi-touch display makes surfing the Web, flicking through photos and turning the pages of e-books seem natural. The display detects when your fingers touch the screen using electrical fields, and transforms your taps, pinches and swipes into the appropriate responses.

iOS 4
The iOS 4 operating system for iPad allows for multitasking as well as running the 65,000 apps that have already been developed for the iPad. As on other models of the iPad, it’s responsive and helps set the iPad apart from devices offered by competing companies.

WI-FI and 3G
As with the previous model, the iPad features 802.11n wireless technology, and automatically finds and lets you join WI-FI networks. It is also available with 3G connectivity on either AT&T or Verizon Wireless networks for those places where WI-FI is not available (the 3G data plan requires a separate purchase).

Gyroscope, Accelerometer, and Compass
The iPad has always sported a built-in accelerometer that senses when you rotate the device to portrait or landscape orientation so that the display can adjust automatically, but now the accelerometer works in conjunction with a three-axis gyroscope and compass for even better responsiveness, especially when playing games.

AirPlay and AirPrint
Apple’s AirPlay technology now allows for wireless streaming of your music, photos and videos to your AirPlay-enabled HDTV and speakers on a WI-FI network.
Built-in AirPrint allows you to get a hard copy of your documents directly from your printer over WI-FI.

Video Mirroring
The new video mirroring allows you to show your presentations to a larger audience with the Apple Digital AV Adapter or the Apple VGA Adapter and an HDTV or projector.

Although the iPad to doesn’t include all the features that many people were hoping and wishing for, such as USB ports and Flash compatible, it has enough to offer to keep a new flock of iPad users very happy indeed.

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Topics: Tablet, iPad 2, New Products, Apple

Apple iPad 2 Event Next Week

Posted by Eric Torres

Feb 23, 2011 10:07:00 AM

After countless rumors and speculation, it looks as if the next generation of the iPad will finally be revealed next week.  Apple’s iPad 2 is rolling off assembly lines and could be on store shelves within a few months, according to the latest rumor courtesy of Wall Street Journal and “people familiar with the matter.”

Apple could unveil the iPad 2 as soon as March 2 – around the same time of year that Apple took the wraps off the original iPad. This news comes courtesy of Kara Swisher at the Wall Street apple ipad 2 Journal, who cites several anonymous sources familiar with the iPad 2 roll-out.  According to her sources, the Wednesday date in a little more than a week is firm and will take place in San Francisco, the scene of many such Apple events.

"Analysts expect the iPad 2 to be thinner than its predecessor and feature an improved display," Swisher writes on the All Things Digital blog, "as well as front-facing camera and Facetime video chat support. And some reports suggest it will be powered by one of Qualcomm’s multimode chips and will run on both GSM and CDMA-based networks around the world."

Since the date for Apple’s event has been confirmed, there is already speculation on whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be in attendance or not. He is currently on leave to deal with ongoing health issues, but he has been spotting around Silicon Valley at various places in the past few weeks. In addition, Jobs along with other technology moguls such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, had dinner with President Obama at a high-profile technology-moguls dinner last week.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on things, of course. As soon as we find more information we’ll let you know. For now, let the speculation begin as we try to figure out exactly what features will end up inside of the successor to the most successful tablet on the market.

Of course, nothing is official until Apple says so, but expect the media frenzy to begin next week!

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Topics: iPad, iPad 2, New Products, Apple

River Run Tech Blog: 60% of Windows Users Could Switch to Chrome OS

Posted by Eric Torres

Nov 29, 2010 10:57:00 AM

Linus Upson, Google's vice president for engineering in charge of Chrome, recently made some bold comments about his company's upcoming operating system. Google has apparently done some Chrome OSresearch and found that 60 percent of Windows PCs used in the corporate world are exclusively used for tasks that can be handled in a browser environment. Google wants to hit Microsoft where it hurts.

"Mr. Upson says that 60 percent of businesses could immediately replace their Windows machines with computers running Chrome OS," according to The New York Times. "He also says he hopes it will put corporate systems administrators out of work because software updates will be made automatically over the Web. But the vast majority of businesses still use desktop Microsoft Office products and cannot imagine moving entirely to Web-based software or storing sensitive documents online — at least not yet." 

Corporate IT departments aren't going to immediately jump on Chrome OS, and it's not simply because they tend to do things slowly. Upson hopes the OS will put corporate system administrators out of work because software updates will be made automatically over the Web. The system administrators who decide whether to move to Chrome OS or stay on Windows are obviously going to stick with the latter if their jobs are at stake. They will come up with every reason and excuse not to ditch Windows. At the same time, CFOs and CEOs will be eager t o move to Chrome OS if it means streamlining IT operations.

Google is planning on releasing Chrome OS on netbooks in the first half of 2011. As part of the "consumer launch," Acer and HP will push out various hardware offerings but none of them will be for businesses. A Google-branded Chrome OS netbook (think Nexus One) will reportedly launch for "friends and family" in December. The search giant says that the main way to differentiate between its two OS offerings is form factor: Android is for touch, Chrome OS is for keyboards.
So what do you think? Would you dump your Windows computer in favor of one running Chrome OS?

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Topics: Google, New Products, Browser

River Run Tech Blog: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

Posted by Eric Torres

Nov 24, 2010 10:56:00 AM

Google announced a new feature of Google Docs this week, called Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. The feature comes from Google's acquisition of DocVerse, a company that specialized in the real-time sharing and editing of documents. They paid $25 million for it, and it could turn out to be a huge piece of the puzzle in winning over Microsoft Office users.  

Google Cloud Connect lets Office users automatically sync and backup their documents with Google Docs, so they're always accessible on the web and able to be shared with others. 

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Topics: Microsoft, Google, New Products

River Run Tech Blog: Facebook To Improve Messaging

Posted by Eric Torres

Nov 16, 2010 2:08:00 PM

The ever-popular social networking site, Facebook, announced yesterday that it is rolling out a whole new messaging system over the next few months. This new messaging system "isn't just facebook messagee-mail," but integrates four common ways users communicate: email, Facebook messages, chat, and SMS, archiving it all in a single thread.

The new system puts a user's identity above the communication protocol. Facebook Engineer Joel Seligstein said in the company blog, "You decide how you want to talk to your friends...They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time. You shouldn't have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use. Simply choose their name and type a message."

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Topics: Microsoft, New Products, Communications, Facebook

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