Police In Canada Used BlackBerry’s Key To Read Encrypted BBM Messages

When it comes to mobile phones Blackberry pride themselves on their security, with many companies taking up the device as their go-to model thanks to its support and security features. It now appears that those security features may not have been so secure after all with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gaining the ability to read encrypted BBM messages.

When it comes to encryption, companies are having to be careful with the likes of Apple going to congress to discuss just how much they can be expected to help and support law enforcement without oversight or detailed rulings on how and when they can access private data. In this case, the RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services by using the encryption that came with your everyday BlackBerry, meaning the only ones that were safe from this interception are those connected to enterprise servers.

If you weren’t connected to an enterprise server, your BlackBerry would have used a peer-to-peer key that is loaded into your phone when it’s built, something that the RCMP managed to gain access to and in turn granted them access to people’s encrypted BBM messages and conversations.

As part of an operating, titled Project Clemenza, the RCMP intercepted and decrypted roughly one million messages as reported by Vice news in a joint investigation with Motherboard, who in turn revealed that the RCMP actually had a server in Ottawa that acted like a mobile phone by simulating “a mobile device that receives a message intended for [the rightful recipient]”.

With BlackBerry looking to step away from mobile devices and into security consulting, this news couldn’t come at any worse of a time given that if the server is still operational (key and all) then without a large update to its phones, the RCMP could still be reading people’s messages to this day even after the operation ended in 2012.

Facebook Messenger Introduces Dropbox and Video Chat Heads

Facebook Messenger is a system built to help communicate through the popular social network, but the latest features look to bring it closer to email with Facebook Messenger introducing dropbox features and even adding a chat head imagine to your video calls.

The dropbox features allow you to add in dropbox files just like you would add an emoji, the end result being the ability to go through files and directories on your dropbox system and send them just like you would any other file. Any photos or videos sent linked through the messenger will appear as if  you had sent them normally while other files will either be sent to download via the Dropbox app or as a hyperlink to download the file through the web.

Ever had a video call on Facebook messenger? Your entire screen filled with someone’s face, stopping you from contacting or responding to other messages. The new chat head feature will display your callers video in a little circle that you can place and drag around your screen, letting you get on with your browsing while you chat away. The feature could even support video chat amongst different applications and with both features set for release within the next few days, just watch out for the latest download.

Taco Bell is Looking at a Chat Bot to Take Your Orders

During those late nights when you just feel like a quick bite to eat and your favourite show before hitting the hay, we all feel like quickly ordering something in and enjoying the greasy food before the days over. Taco Bell are currently testing a new way for you to order, the TacoBot.

The TacoBot is designed to be a chat AI, designed to help you not only figure out what you really want but then to place your order. Just like having an instant messaging conversation, you could soon be ordering and asking questions about the menu rather than browsing and debating every single option you can’t get.

The TacoBot is currently in a closed beta, with select companies giving it a try and making sure that you can’t break the system and end up with a chicken taco rather than a bean burrito.

Place your order via the chat bot and select your pick up location to enjoy fast food on the go. With autonomous delivery robots now offering you pizza to your door without a driver, you may even be able to get your food  delivered by a drone in the near future, leaving only the cooking up to a person.

What do you think? Would you prefer to select items off a menu or is a chat bot a nice way to order? How would you feel if you could text or email your order to the chat bot? Walking home from work? a quick text and the foods ready for you to pick up before you’ve even left the office.

ASUS Strix 2.0 Multi-Platform Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


It’s been almost a year since we put the feature-packed ASUS STRIX DSP Gaming Headset through its paces, and it certainly did well in our review. The latest from ASUS, the STRIX 2.0 may not have as many features as its big brother, but with a more affordable price and multi-format support, it’s certainly an attractive option for those looking for a new gaming headset, so we’re eager to see what it can do.

Picking the right headset can make or break your gaming experience, not to mention they can also be great for general multimedia use. The STRIX 2.0 is equipped with support for PC/MAC, mobile devices and PlayStation 4, although in all fairness it’s also widely compatible with a lot of things, so long as the have a 3.5mm jack. It’s certainly great if you game on multiple devices, and this setup could save you money as you wouldn’t need to buy multiple headsets.

“STRIX 2.0 is powered by 60 mm neodymium-magnet drivers to deliver punchy, high-fidelity sound. In addition to providing fantastic gaming audio, STRIX 2.0 is a great way to enjoy listening to music. Connect STRIX 2.0 to your desktop, laptop, PS4 or smart device and experience superb sound with brilliant details and punchy bass from games, music, and more.”

The hardware certainly seems promising, with a pair of powerful 60mm neodymium drivers, which are quite simply massive for any headset, so I’m expecting some good bass performance here. There’s also a uni-directional boom microphone, which is also fully detachable should you not need it.

The packaging for the STRIX 2.0 is absolutely massive, the box looks big enough to house two of these headsets. There’s a large window section showing off one of the ear cups of the headset, as well as a few major specifications dotted on the front of the packaging.

Around the back, more details about the 60mm drivers, dual microphones and cross-platform support.

In the box, you’ll find the quick start guide, warranty information, a detachable boom microphone, as well as some good quality braided adaptor cables for PC and mobile devices.

VTech Leak Contained Headshots of Kids and Chat Logs

Recently it came to light that VTech had been hacked, potentially revealing thousands of emails and usernames. The hacker has revealed more information though on what was contained and revealed within the hack, the information which was revealed yesterday.

The data that was obtained from the hack contained around 4.8 million users details, but the scope of the information is nothing compared to what the hacker was able to obtain. 200GB’s of images were downloaded from the server containing images of both the parents and child of the registered accounts, coupled with the chat logs between parents and children (some of which are recording of conversations).

VTech suggests using the image so that it’s easier for parents and children to talk and interact through their services. The hacker provided Motherboard with 3,832 image files and at least one audio recording to prove that the information they obtained was legitimate and the scope of the risk from such an amount of data.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the photos, chats and recordings were often linked to usernames, something that normally wouldn’t be a problem but with usernames, address and emails being revealed and even their security questions and answers (meaning that resetting your password would have been an easy task).

While the service has been stopped by VTech while they investigate. The hacker stated, “it makes me sick that I was able to get all this stuff” and I think it’s fair to say that no matter what they do VTech has a lot to answer for.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 30X Xbox One Headset Review

Introduction


Picking the right headset can be a virtual minefield as there are a seemingly endless range of products to choose from. Of course, if you pick out what you really want from your headset and set a budget, things do get a lot easier. The latest headset from Turtle Beach is perfect for use on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Apple/MAC and Mobile, so there’s no doubt that it’s versatile in terms of formats, and the single ear-cup design means it’s tailored to suit those who only need a headset for chat functions. Add to that a price tag of just £19.99 and the 30X is shaping up to be an interesting entry-level product.

“Experience the crystal clear audio and comfort of the officially licensed EAR FORCE Recon 30X Xbox One chat headset and enhance your multiplayer games by communicating with your team.” – Turtle Beach

  • Direct 3.5mm connection to the new Xbox One Controller, and to other Xbox One controllers via the EAR FORCE® Headset Audio Controller (sold separately)
  • Unique slotted ear-cup design allows external game sounds in
  • Large 40mm Neodymium speaker delivers crystal clear chat audio
  • Lightweight and comfortable over-ear design
  • In-line controls place Mic Mute and Chat Volume conveniently at your fingertips
  • Use the high-sensitivity adjustable boom mic for in-game chat

The packaging is nicely designed, keeping in theme with other turtle beach products. There’s a clear image of the headset, as well as a quick rundown of the major features, such as the in-line volume controller.

In the box, you’ll find the headset (obviously), as well as a few bits of documentation, nothing fancy, but at least everything you need is here.

The headset comes hard-wired and doesn’t require drivers, meaning you can just unbox, plug in and play.

This Happens When You Mix Real Life With FPS Games and Take It to Chatroulette

We all love our video games, whatever type they might be. They are fun to play while they relax or challenge us. But what happens if you take that game into real life? The UK-based production team RealmPictures must have asked themselves the same question as that is just what they did.

The team created a live action first-person shooter in their garden and invited unsuspecting people online to take control. The best platform to do so is Chatroulette and the result is amazing. The team works by the slogan: “We make all sorts of things, but our passion is for narrative fiction and cinematic storytelling. They took that and created one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in recent times.

Whether this is a clever marketing gag to get the company name out thanks to a viral video or they just thought it was an amazing idea to do this. The result is amazing and I highly recommend to watch as unsuspecting video chatters get to control the character in this Zombie invasion game. They have to find weapons and hidden objects in order to make it through the first level.

I really don’t want to spoil too much of the video by telling you what happens, it is something that just has to be seen yourself. So enjoy these 9 minutes of real-life first person shooter video.

Facebook-Less Messenger Is a Thing

First there was MySpace and Bebo, then came along Facebook. Now everything from your computer to your phone can have Facebook on it, be it the social website or just the messaging aspect of the social site. Now it would seem that users are able to use the messaging platform, without having a Facebook account.

Starting next week users in the US, Canada, Venezuela and Peru will be given the option to sign up to Facebook messenger by just providing their full name and phone number. While it can still be used with a Facebook account, this allows users who don’t want to sign up and create an account have access to and use their messaging services.

Signing up to Facebook is still encouraged so users can take “advantage of multi-device messaging across mobile devices, the web and tablets”. This would appear that while your name and number lets you log in and use the messaging app on your phone, you still won’t be able to access or use chat on PC based versions of Facebook, maybe even to the point where the conversations aren’t shared amongst the devices associated with that number.

Previously announced plans outlined messenger being enabled to allow businesses to have a platform on the messenger app, to not only communicate but also to receive information such as order confirmations and status updates.

With the app being expanded to businesses and non-Facebook users, it’s clear that they want to include as many people and companies in communicating through their products. Can you see yourself asking for details from your online retailers through Facebook?

Thank you Facebook for providing us with this information.

Twitter Prepares to Launch Human-Curated News Service

Twitter is a massive social network, implying that its primary use to help people connect and chat to one another but over the past few years it has become clear that a lot of users don’t actually interact with other people on the platform. Sounds crazy right! There is actually a reason behind this.

Most twitter users use the platform as a source of information. They never actually post anything or DM anyone, but follow other people and use trending topics / hashtags to find out what is going on in the world.

These passive users are arguably less valuable to Twitter than active users because tweets, retweets, favorites and other actions help Twitter generate advertising revenue. However, that may be about to change.

Twitter has revealed details of a new initiative called Project Lightning, which aims to provide a better way of curating and aggregating tweets and content for users in one place, so that they can follow live events.

The twitter app on iPhone and Android will soon gain another button in the center of the home row that will take users to another section of the app that will show events taking place that people are tweeting about. This could be things such as the world cup or the Oscars or ongoing events such as the Nepal earthquake.

It sounds like the developers at twitter are making the best out of their users and I can see me using the new feature rather a lot.

Thank you to Telegraph for providing us with this information.

Valve Improves Dota 2 Reborn and You Can Play the Beta Now

The long wait for Valve’s latest Dota 2 title, Dota 2 Reborn, is now over. Despite the many bugs and features which are not fully functional just yet, fans and curious gamers can now play the beta version alongside Dota 2 on Steam.

Dota 2 Reborn brings a lot of features and improvements to its predecessor, including the Source 2 Engine. What this means is that Dota 2 will have a lot of rendering improvements, performance optimizations, higher fidelity content, and not to mention enhanced physics. Valve says that they will further improve cloth and simulation physics in the future too, but they are still awesome as they are now.

Other improvements can be seen in the UI, having Dota 2 Reborn come with a new and improved interface. Players area able to quickly and efficiently search for matches, stay in touch with their friends through newly added party and chat features, as well as see the what your friends (or enemies) are up to.

Now we all know how frustrating it is to have problems connecting or maintaining a connection to a server sometimes. This is why Valve worked hard to offer more reliable network connections through a new backbone and relay protocol. In addition to the latter, a lot of effort has been put into DDoS protection and we know that is a major problem nowadays.

Last but not least, Custom Games is also a nice addition to the series, having it come with better developer tools for modders. While regular users get to play other modes and maps made by fans, modders get the chance to expand their ideas a bit with new tools. The new Hammer Level Editor lets you quickly prep your map, while the Material, Model and Particle editors help shape it to look how you imagined it to be. Also, Valve now offers better debugging with their new Developer Console.

More details about the latest title can be found on their website here, or if you want to get straight into the action, you can do so by following the steps below:

  1. Install Dota 2 if you haven’t already
  2. Start up Dota 2
  3. Go to the Play tab and select Dota 2 Reborn Beta
  4. Click Install to begin your download

These Eight Characters Crash Skype

Users have found a rather interesting bug in the popular voice and video calling application, Skype. The problem (now fixed in an update) caused skype to crash when you sent “http://:” via an instant message.

Once the message has been sent, if you re-open Skype – it will instantly crash again because it is in the chat log.

The bug has so far been discovered on Windows, Android and Ios. However, it doesn’t have an effect on Skype for Mac or Skype on Windows 8 (the metro interface application). Several users commented on the Skype forums and stated:

“clearing chat history not helps, because when skype download chat history from server, it will crash again.”

On some platforms, Skype now filters out the offending characters, yet it doesn’t work on all platforms and the characters still crash the application.

Microsoft have now fixed the bug and issued the following statement on their forums:

“Hello everyone

We are aware of a problem that was causing Skype clients to crash.  Our engineering teams worked hard to resolve this issue, and have released updates for all impacted Skype platforms. “

To resolve the issue, they suggest that you download the latest version of skype from www.skype.com/download and install it on your device. You don’t need to uninstall the old version first though.

Thank you to VentureBeat for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Skype

Valve Restricts Steam Service Features to Users Who Don’t Spend At Least $5

If you’ve ever been bullied or targeted on Steam by spammers or phishers, then you might be excited to know that Valve has set some restrictions to its online service. Valve stated on their Support Page that they are adding this security measure to deal with the latter problems.

Therefore, if you would like to have full access to Steam as a new user or even as an old one who used the service only for Free-to-Play games, you need to spend some money to get the full features.

Valve says that if you add at least $5 on Steam Wallet it should get you access, regardless if you actually buy anything or not.

Other methods of unlocking your account(s) include purchasing games that are equal to at least $5, adding a Steam Wallet card to your Steam account or purchasing a Steam gift.

If you think that you can do something to get around this, you are out of luck. Valve says that activating a retail game, playing free demos, adding a non-Steam game, adding/playing trials, free-to-play games or activating promotional CD keys from GPU manufacturers (like the ones found on AMD cards) won’t get your features activated.

Now, moving to the thing that really matters. What is actually restricted? Well, the company seems to restrict pretty much every social communication in the service. You can’t add friends, open group chat, vote on Greenlight/Steam Reviews/Workshop, take part in the Steam Market or post often on Steam Discussions.

In addition to that, you can’t send anything to the Workshop, post in Workshop Discussions, access the Steam Web API, use the browser and mobile chat and on top of that, your Steam Profile will always have its level locked at 0.

Now the real kicker. Though Steam said a minimum of $5 (that is USD currency by the way), how will it work in other non-US regions? I’ll let you read their response below.

“If the Steam store isn’t in USD, we will track the purchase amount in USD by converting each purchase total made on Steam using daily exchange rates. Once you have made the equivalent of $5.00 USD or more in total Steam purchases, you will gain access to the restricted Steam features.”

So why do non-US countries have to pray for the US dollar to drop in value to not spend more than others? I mean, why not do this for all the currencies once you thought about adding the restriction? Let us know if you consider this fair or not in the comments below.

Voice Messaging Feature Arrives This April for the Xbox One

Microsoft is planning to get a voice messaging feature up and running on its Xbox One, which is due to arrive with the new firmware this April. Xbox One dashboard preview testers are said to be able to test the new feature this week, having them be the first to leave audio clips in their friends’ inboxes.

An interesting aspect of this feature is that it will allow Xbox One as well as Xbox 360 owners to exchange voice messages. Aside from the latter, Microsoft is said to be adding a new ‘What’s On’ section for the dashboard that would feature games and series tailored to a user’s preferences, as well as providing dedicated servers for users struggling with party chat connections.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Outlook.com Removing Support for Google and Facebook Chat

Outlook.com, Microsoft’s popular webmail service, has announced that it is to remove support for Facebook Chat and Google Talk. Currently, users of Outlook.com can access the two chat service within their account. Microsoft says that the feature will be removed “within the next couple of weeks.”

In an email to Outlook.com users, Microsoft made it clear why they’re removing Google Talk support, saying that it is “due to Google’s decision to discontinue the chat protocol used by the Google Talk platform.” However, they were less clear about Facebook, leaving no reason behind the change. The two features were highly requested and both subsequently very popular amongst users of Outlook.com and now Microsoft is suggesting that such users try out their own Skype functionality instead.

Outlook.com is the current evolution of Microsoft’s famous Hotmail; the highly popular webmail service that accompanied MSN throughout the early 90s and until the recent variant. Outlook was essentially the name to represent a substantial update to the service, adding more features, including the social functionality that the company is now removing.

Source: The Verge

Steam Chat Censors Kickass.to Mentioning

Steam is installed on a lot of computers, so it’s only logic for people to use the built-in instant messaging chat to talk to friends, about games but also all sorts of other things.

Last week the torrent site KickassTorrents went offline and created headlines. Naturally people were talking about this and that is where some noticed that their messages would be sent into the dark abyss when the Kickass.to URL was mentioned. There wasn’t any warning or notification that the message was blocked, it just disappeared.

It is unclear why steam is censoring these conversations, if it’s just a bug or intended. Other torrent sites aren’t blocked in chat, but you do get a warning that the site isn’t secure if you try to click on their links.

It makes one wonder what’s so special about KickassTorrents, but we it also shows that Steam is keeping a close eye on what people talk about.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Video Chat App Renders in ASCII Text

 

Video chatting online has become pretty good over the years. Two people can have quite a normal conversation with each other, from the other side of the planet. However, there’s some people who think this is just too good and that it needs to be worse. Much worse.

I say worse, but that’s not to say video chat in ASCII text is not pretty damn interesting. The app in question, p2pvc, basically allows you to do Skype Linux-style, completely from within a terminal window. And as you can see, as well as being interesting, it looks pretty damn cool as well.

Now some of you technical types might think Skype is a little too easy to set up and you’d prefer something more technically challenging. Well p2pvc is your answer – for starters you need a Linux OS to run it, but if you’re running anything other than Arch Linux, you will be required to compile p2pvc all by yourself.

While it won’t appeal to everyone, it does make a fun way to chat while using very little data. You can download it here.

Source: Geek

Kim Dotcom to Launch Secure Video Chat Service

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has announced plans to release an encrypted, in-browser video chat service through his Twitter account. The service, called MegaChat, will also integrate high-speed transfer of large files, through Dotcom’s Mega sharing software.

Dotcom promises that his secure chat app will be available “soon”, but there are no firm details about how far along the project is or how long we have to wait for it. However, Dotcom has promised beta invites over the next few weeks, so we may see it sooner rather than later.

Source: Engadget

Wire: The New Skype Rival Backed by Skype Co-Founder

A new upstart has entered the instant messaging arena, positioning itself as more than just a chat service. Wire, pitched as a thoroughly modern messaging app, is supported by Skype co-founder Janus Friis and developed by former Skype employees.

With their experience – helped by former Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft employees – the team know as well as anyone what needed fixing: “Skype was launched more than a decade ago. A lot has changed since then – we are all used to free calls and texting, and we have taken to carrying our computers in our pockets,” Friis said. “It is time to create the best possible communication tools, as beautiful as they are useful. Wire is just that.”

The app features text and voice messaging, live calls, one-on-one or group messaging, and even SoundCloud integration. It utilises Opus, and open source audio codec, to make playback and voice calls crisp and clean. Video is being muted as a future feature.

Vine is available on OS X, iOS, and Android.

Source: The Independent

Barclays Announces Video Banking

Barclays has announced that from 8th December, a select number of its customers will be able to talk directly to banking staff at any time of day.

The service will allow customers to speak face-to-face with a Barclays staff member, possibly one they’ve spoken to before, about their account and other banking matters. Barclays is posting the service as a way to bring the in-store experience completely online.

“While many of our customers are increasingly using digital channels to complete routine transactions, for the important moments, you just can’t beat face-to-face conversations, yet traditional branch opening hours don’t always give customers that choice.” – Steven Cooper, Barclays CEO of Personal Banking.

Primer account customers will be able to take advantage of the new service first, while all customers will eventually receive access throughout next year.

Let’s hope they don’t get the same abuse Amazon’s Mayday service has encountered.

Source: BBC News

Facebook at Work to Launch in January

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook’s ‘Facebook at Work’ product will be launching in January.

The report suggests that the product may be available for free without ads at first, in an attempt to expand its user base. The product was revealed last week in a report by the Financial Times, with Facebook aiming to target businesses and workplaces, helping them to collaborate over work projects using real-time chat and Facebook groups.

The rumour that Facebook is to launch a collaborative social media product aimed at businesses comes a time when many other companies, like Microsoft, are also expanding its efforts in workplace collaboration. Just this weekend, we reported on Microsoft’s announcement that chat will be incorporated into Microsoft Office.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Turing Test Passed by a ’13-year-old boy’ Computer

Before thinking that computers will soon rule the world, the Touring Test is merely a simple computer test which analyses a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human being. It has been created by scientist Alan Turing in the ’50s to answer the question of whether or not a computer can ‘think’.

Having that said, computer engineers led by Russian Vladimir Veselov and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko have presented Eugene Goostman, a computer designed to think as a ’13-year-old boy’, at the Touring Test 2014 competition in London. The artificial intelligence is said to be able to present its ‘preferences’, having it state to like hamburgers and candy, and state that its father is a ‘gynecologist’. These are merely some simple response examples, but its true skill stands in its ability to express all this information in a human-like manner.

This is how Goostman managed to convince at least 30% of the judges, it being the valid score in order to pass the test, having it be the first artificial intelligence to pass the Touring Test. Goostman made a similar attempt back in 2012, having it nearly passing it, but falling short at 29%. Professor Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading states that some people could claim the Touring Test has already been passed, having it been applied to events all over the world.

However, the professor added that the Touring Test 2014 event in London involved more simultaneous comparison tests ever before attempted, having all machines independently evaluated and, most importantly, the conversations are said to have been unrestricted. Veselov also notes that Goostman’s main strength, which most likely helped it win the competition, stands in its ‘age’. This is where the scientist explained that they have created Goostman to claim it knows everything, having its ‘age’ a perfectly reasonable negation prior to its claims.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Coolermaster, Speedlink & TteSports Budget Headset Head-to-Head Review

Introduction


If you’re on the market for a new headset, chances are you’ve got more than one option on your shopping list, you’ll be looking for the best return on investment and you’ll want to find the headset that is best suited to your needs. Today I’ll be departing from our usual headset review format and showing you three headsets, putting them head-to-head and finding the strengths and weaknesses of each. At my disposal I have the TteSports Cronos, the Speedlink Medua NX and the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300. They’re all quite varied in terms of features, price and style, but they all have one thing in common, they’re all available for under £60.

The TteSports by Thermaltake Cronos headset is priced around £55 from most major online retailers, making it the most expensive of the collection that I have here today. The Speedlink Medusa can be picked up at most major retailers for around £50, but a little Google-fu will net you a brand new one for around £40 from some of the top eBay sellers making it the second most expensive option and finally we have the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300, which can be picked up for a very affordable £28. I’m hoping that by covering these three products we can work out if you need to spend more money to get the kind of performance you desire, or perhaps you’ll be able to save yourself some money by downgrading. There is only one way to find out, so let’s put these headsets to the test, but first let’s take a closer look at what you get in the box.

First up we have the TteSports Cronos; in the box you’ll find the headset, a rubber sleeved 4-pole cable (for mobile use), a braided dual 3.5mm + USB power connector cable, a simple user guide and a nice quality protective bag.

The speed link Medusa comes hard-wired with a fairly standard cable and comes bundled with a quick install guide and a zip up protective bag.

Finally, we have the Ceres 300, which comes bundled with a user guide, a hard wired cable and a detachable boom microphone.

Tritton Kama PlayStation 4 / Vita Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


Time after time I have been blown away by the high quality headsets that come from the Mad Catz camp. They’ve got several great ranges to their name such as Tritton, Cyborg and their own branded stuff, but no matter which I’ve tested, I’ve always come away smiling. Their headsets range from the spectacular 7.1 Warhead, which will set you back around £250! To the award-winning mid-ranges such as the 720+ for a little over £100, all the way down to the model we’ll be taking a look at today, the Tritton Kama.

The Kama is the budget end of the Tritton range and it’s a tempting bargain at a mere £20. A lot of retailers sell it closer to £30, but you don’t have to be a genius to know how to use Google Shopping search and grab yourself a better deal. What I want to find out today is just how much of the high quality and performance that we’ve come to know and love from the brand has been lost (if any) from the focus on affordability. Based around their popular Kunai series of headsets the Kama should have a strong head start, especially given we’ve reviewed no less than three different models of the Kunai and all of them have been award winners.

At the budget end of the range we’re not expecting record-breaking performance from the Kama, but Mad Catz have surprised us before with their budget friendly models and it certainly would be nice to see something similar happen today. As you can see from the specifications below we have a decent length cable, 40mm drivers and a standard 3.5mm connector (4-pole). So let’s get right to it and take a closer look at what else the Kama have to offer.

  • Cable Length: 3.3ft/1m
  • Speaker Diameter: 40mm
  • Ear Coupling: Supra-aural (On-ear)
  • Magnet Type: Neodymium
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz–20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <1%
  • Resistance: 16 ohms
  • Audio Input Type: 3.5mm Connector

The packaging features a nice clear image of the headset on the front, detailing the support for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

Around the back we have a few details about the specifications (see above) as well as some information about the in-line controller, but of course we’ll be taking a closer look at that in a moment.

The only thing you’ll find in the box is the headset, which comes hard-wired. Obviously you don’t need anything else and extras will no doubt have been avoided to keep costs down.

Cryptocat Encrypted Chat Service Rejected By Apple

In light of the NSA scandal and many other monitoring services in 2013, it already looks like 2014 is set to be the year of privacy. Services like Cryptocat have spent the last two years offering users a way of communicating with a massively reduced fear of outside observation, unfortunately Apple don’t want people using the chat service on their mobile OS.

Developer Nadim Kobeissi has taken to Twitter to scald Apple for rejecting their software, but stated that he is unfortunately under a non-disclosure agreement as part of Apples developer program the prevents him from going into specifics, despite him believing that Apples reasons for rejection were “illegitimate”. This sets a bad precedent for future encrypted chat clients and it could pave the way for other providers such as Android to dominate the market for those who want to keep data snooping out of their lives.

Cryptocat have already moved their servers to a Swedish nuclear bunker, and makes every effort to ensure their users can enjoy end-to-end encryption from their service. What’s strange is that Apple’s OS X store has the app available, but when it comes to mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone, Apple just don’t want to know, something that Jobeissi says he might be willing to challenge legally.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

BitFenix Flo PC Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


BitFenix are dipping their toes into the world of audio with the release of their all new Flo gaming headset, a premium solution for the PC market that I didn’t even know existed until it landed on my desk! It was a welcome surprise and I was immediately eager to see what it could do.  Designed for the PC market the headset is designed to be very flexible in its application, suitable for gaming, work, listening to music, what ever takes your fancy and it plans on doing it without breaking your budget. At just 59.99 Euro it certainly looks like great value for money.

I love headsets, they’re one of the most vital tools in my daily routine, I play a lot of games, I do a lot of work, I use applications like Skype and Mumble, I play guitar and make music from my PC, listen to a lot of music through out the day and so on, so it is important to me to have a well-balanced headset that can do multiple things with minimal fuss. At this price range I’m not expecting the earth of this headset, but it’s coming from one of the coolest brands on the market right now into a market that is already fiercely competitive, so it has to be pretty good just to stand out from the crowd anyway.

“The foundation of any headset is sound quality. Flo brings this in spades with 40mm Neodymium drivers for superbly bright and balanced audio. Precision-tuned acoustic chambers with the closed-back design not only ensure a superior aural experience, but enables excellent noise attenuation for crystal-clear sound – even on-the-go.” – BitFenix

As you can see from the specifications below it’s reasonably well equipped for this price range. Packing decent size neodymium magnet drivers, multiple connection cables, lightweight design, a detachable microphone and a choice of colours.

Specifications

  • Materials: Steel, Plastic, SofTouch Surface Treatment, SoftFeel Earcups
  • Colours: Midnight Black, Arctic White, Fire Red, Cobalt Blue
  • Acoustic Design: Dynamic, Closed-back
  • Driver: 16µ, Neodymium magnet, 40mm
  • Sensitivity: 96db /1mW
  • Frequency Response: 20hz-20khz
  • Rated Impedance: 68 Ω
  • Headband Pressure: Approximately 5N
  • Weight: 200g

Cables

  • 1m Straight Cable With Remote
  • 1m Straight Mobile Audio Cable
  • 2m Straight Cable With Headphone / Microphone Plugs
  • Gold-plated connectors with 3.5mm stereo mini-plug with aluminium sheath

A promise of decent performance, cool design and a reasonable price tag make this a tempting headset, so let’s find out just how well it meets our expectations.

As you can see, the box is nicely designed and features a large window on the top cover that allows us a sneaky peak of the headset. Down the right side we have a few images of the colour variations that are available, these are black, white, red and blue.

Around the back we have the full specifications and box contents. In the box you will find the Flo Headset, Flexible Microphone, 1m Straight Cable With Remote, 1m Straight Mobile Audio cable, 2m Straight Cable With Headphone / Microphone Plugs.

BitTorrent’s Peer-To-Peer Chat Will Help Protect Your Identity

Privacy concerns easily made the biggest headlines this year, with NSA spying and well… every other government also spying on everyone else pretty much all the time, security breaches at major companies that effected millions of users and hacking being a bigger problem than ever, it’s easy to see why more and more people want to go the extra mile to making sure their data is safe.

BitTorrent Chat may have a solution to one problem, by offering strong encryption on a messaging service. Instead of a username, you’ll have a cryptographic key pair, effectively making it impossible for other people to guess your identity. Security is further enhanced with the use of distributed hast tables (DHTs), which is similar to the underlying technology used in software such as uTorrent. Message requests are passed securely along the network, negating the need for a central server.

The software doesn’t have a release date just yet, but given that they recently called out for Alpha testers we hope it will not be too long.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Facebook Messenger For Android Gets A Huge Overhaul

When it comes to communicating with our friends and colleagues, a number of us chose to do so through social media messaging as opposed to sending an SMS from our phone. One such service is Facebook messenger and for those of us that use it on our Android smart phones, messenger now looks a whole lot different.

The new layout of messenger wipes the slate clean over previous versions of the app and after a period of beta testing where the app was only available to a limited number of users, Facebook has rolled out the new design to everyone.

Along with a new icon design, the app now offers a simple white and blue design which is less cluttered in its appearance, even though there are a number of additional features crammed into the latest update. The most significant of these is the added ability to now message anyone using just their mobile number. Whilst this may feel as though Facebook are diverting us from using our phones own SMS service, people with a limited number of messages per month will be pleased to see the new options.

Roll-out of the new app is already in full swing and unless your app has already updated automatically, you can download the latest version from Google Play.

Source: Tweaktown