Portable Smartphone Battery Pack Roundup Review

Introduction


Today we’ll take a look in to a few different portable battery pack offerings from companies from around the globe. You’re quite possibly just like me – in the beginning you weren’t exactly certain why people would want or need to invest in a portable battery and maybe even thought of them to be quite useless. Then came along my Galaxy S4. As great as the phone performs, even when I’m out and about at tech expos’ or traveling around, my phone will be flat in a few hours – even with all precautions possible taken.

Screen brightness down, check. GPS off, check. Wireless disabled, check. Background applications closed, yep. Then, as your 6th hour away from a USB port rolls around, you hear that all-too-noteable “bloop bloop” – your phone is warning you that only 15% of your battery remains. In comes our hero, in the form of a 5,000 mAh – 11,000 mAh power bank. If you’re going to take most large-brand consumer phones into account, they’ll be providing you with an average battery sizing of around 2,600 mAh – as seen in Samsung’s Galaxy S4. If you’re running a 5,000 mAh battery pack and take into account some small power losses along the way, you’re looking at about 1.8 full charges of your device.

We’re not here to tell you if you do or don’t need a power bank in your life, but here are some packs that we think are worth a look at. The full list of products in this roundup and their pricing is as follows:

Portable USB Wall Charger Roundup

Introduction


Quite often you’ll find yourself traveling to another city, state or country and be met with the all-too-common sinking feeling when presented with your hotel room power point options – only one or two annoyingly placed ports. If you’re like me, not only have you forgotten a power board, but you’ve got multiple devices to charge via USB ports. Furthermore, if you’re heading on a holiday or business trip – it’s likely that you’re carrying a myriad of battery-powered devices: a smartphone, tablet, smartwatch and GoPro being just the beginning of a very long list.

Being left with your standard issue 1-port USB smartphone charger won’t do you much justice, pulling out your bulky laptop isn’t always the best solution due to them being heavy and slow to charge – this is where USB power hubs come into their element. They’re also suitable for a home environment, offering between two and five handy USB ports to charge your devices overnight or while you’re sitting on the couch.

Thankfully for us, we’ve had a couple of wall USB chargers provided to us for testing. Read on for a quick round-up on these life-saving devices and what conditions we think they suit best.

The full list of products in this roundup and their pricing is as follows:

ASUS to Release Gigabit Wireless Router

The ASUS RT-AC55U will provide users with not only 1200Mbps dual AC wireless capabilities, but Gigabit LAN will also come standard all for the low price of under $200 US. This information comes about not long after ASUS have released their previous Gigabit-enabled units, with the main difference being the some small now-standard features and capabilities.

The AC55U offers 802.11ac wireless transmission, set at 2.4GHz frequency providing speeds of up to 300Mbps, however it gives the ability to provide 5.0GH bandwidth of 867Mbps. This new release is said, by sources, to contain a Qualcomm chip offering, without any known specific model published. They also claim that the AC55U uses radio-gain antennas, providing two more to the user than the previous models issued to the public.

As far as wiring and features go, the AC55U will provide similar specifications previous models, as we have stated. The most important release features will include; four Gigabit LAN ports, NAS support, smart set-top box compatibility, smart TV integration, USB 3.0, FTP capabilities, 3G/4G sharing, UNPnP AV server support, DLNA server support and offline download capabilities as standard issue.

The management software is said to remain as ASUSWRT, supporting QoS bandwith allocation, traffic monitoring, various AP modes and up to four multi-SSID functions. Officials haven’t yet confirmed the price and date of release, however reports and rumors claim that it will come into the market between $180-$220 US.

If you’re looking for a decently priced router that offers all the bells and whistles, it seems like ASUS are going to be providing the goods.

Informationand image courtesy of Chiphell

Rideshare Applications Put Taxi Companies in Turmoil

Have you gotten on the Uber or Lyft craze yet? New reports have just come to light that thanks to these new offerings, Taxi business has been majorly disrupted due to the new their technological advantages and pricing structures.

It’s a common complaint in much of the Western world, users upset that their taxi and/or driver is one, or a combination of: smelly, late, unsightly, rude, knowledgeable or in disrepair. Ride-share apps like Lyft and Uber have been designed to take these short-distance travels into a more personable situation.

According to a New York Times analysis, owning a taxi service has become less worthy in recent times. They claim that price of medallions have plummeted sharply over 2014, seeing the price drop by 17-20 percent within major US cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York. This is alongside news that Philadelphia has cut their prices to the customer drastically and half of New York’s most recent sales have been foreclosures.

Unfortunately there isn’t a 100 percent straight link between the Taxi service plummeting and ride sharing app business because of no reported ride numbers released, however it gives us insight into the taxi industries performance as a whole. As far as the local market is concerned here in Australia, many of my friends are taking the application plunge – seeing them utilize services like Uber for hotel to airport transfers and a safe ride home after a night of partying. Although Australian Uber prices are can be slightly higher than that of the localized taxi business, users are happy to bear the cost due to the improved benefits and claimed safety aspects.

Do you agree with these claims? Are Taxi’s going out of business due to public transport or own methods, or are they seeing a downturn due to their nature?

Image courtesy of Wake Up News
Information courtesy of Engadget

Phone, Tablet Company Linshof Claims a ‘Clean Android’ Device Launch

We’ve recently reported on Linshof’s i8 smartphone offering, allowing users to utilize their 80GB of storage space through an interesting 64GB and 16GB memory module paring technology. Just now, news has come to light that this German manufacturer has announced that they will launch ‘clean Android’ offerings of these smartphones and tablets as soon as the first-quarter of 2015. This is an expanded news article, with more pricing and product information being made available to us.

This new OEM has been officially revealed to the public, utilizing Android’s 5.0 Lollipop software at a reported low price. Linshof claims that their i8 5-inch smartphone and their 10-inch tablet will be released on the market with an unnamed octa-core processor @ 2.1GHz, paired with 3GB of RAM and the aforementioned 80GB storage modules. They sent out an email this last Saturday, further clarifying that their 80GB modules are split up between a 64GB and 16GB chip – with this 16GB chip being a “super-high data rate” device, allowing for SSD-like upgraded performance contained within your mobile phone.

The tablet is set to be listed at $360 US, alongside their Smartphone at $380 US. These sharp-angled products are expected to see a slight change in pricing upon release according to reports, however it will be based around the same mark.

Linshof is looking to prove that Germans have what it takes to enter the phone market globally, can they compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung?

Best Buy Gift Cards Offer 10% Saving in Google Play Store

Large-scale retail chain Best buy are offering up discounted gift cards, seeing a 10% saving through selected company offerings. This means that you’ll pay only $45 for a $50 gift card – meaning that the regular app-purchaser in your family, or yourself, will be able to reap the future benefits of cheaper purchases.

This voucher is valid for all Google Play services, including things such as: Apps, music, movies, books or magazines. If you’re looking for a smaller purchase, the $10 gift card isn’t on offer, however you can pick up a $25 of $50 iteration for the 10% off sale.

We’ve been told that these purchases cannot include anything physical – meaning hardware. Only software/application services can be purchased with these cards – for those who were looking to purchase a Nexus or smartphone via this 10% discount will be left bitterly disappointed.

If you’re wanting to take advantage of this sale, you can do so via their online portal.

Image courtesy of Retail Solutions Online

Study Claims Social Networks Cannot Guage Public Opinions

One of the golden rules of social media promotion and engagement is fully based around asking fans for their opinions. It’s commonly seen throughout all different kinds of pages, ranging from celebrities to technology manufacturers and automotive brands. However, the scientists at McGill University in Montreal and Carnegie Mellon Universities researchers have found that less than five percent of popular Social Media’s platform, Twitter, are over 65. Showing in their findings that 18-29 year olds make up over 30 percent of the population, giving them the cast majority over others.

Comparing these findings to Pintrest, they have discovered that it is a mainly Female dominated audience and LinkedIn is populated mainly by rich post-graduates and lastly, their findings have found that Facebook is made up of more diverse populations, with data hard to receive.

What they’re getting at here is, asking a public opinion on one or many social media’s cannot give you a general ‘Public Opinion’ on a product, person, event or object. Each platform generally holds a heavy bias towards one section of our society, making opinions expressed on these generally skewed toward a certain left or right field. Unless however, you ask questions that are targeted specifically at these audiences, giving pages involving just those with youth affairs a higher chance most commonly.

Many opinions expressed loudly on social media can give the illusion of popular opinion, but you may come to find that the reason you’re seeing the same content so much is because you’ve surrounded yourself by like-minded individuals.

Image and information courtesy of Xlwp Themes

eBay Looking to Place Interactive Mirrors in Changing Rooms

eBay is looking to move themselves into the brick-and-mortar retail world, expressing interest in implementing mirrors into dressing rooms that will offer the customer suggested accessories and product browsing – all available through a touch screen. These screens are being installed as a trial at the Rebecca Minkoff store, seeing them follow a similar path to online retail giant Amazon – who of which are preparing a store opening in New York. eBay is part of a movement to make our retail habits more interactive, providing users with simpler options to pick and chose clothing and accessories, helping them save time and quite possibly helping these stores to turn some extra profits.

eBay’s head of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovich, commented: “So physical retail, a showroom, I think will never go away”. This statement regards eBay’s positioning on store-fronts capabilities and viability moving into the future.

This whole experience will be utilized through an app installed on the user’s phone, meaning that these screens will be able to utilize the persons purchasing history and further help them to choose their garments. Clothes in these stores will be connected to RFID tags, allowing these interactive mirrors to recognize not only the customer, but the clothes that they are sampling for purchase. This system will allow shoppers to attach their purchases and test fittings to their personal profile, allowing them to track their favorite styling and brands as they see fit.

Here’s hoping they install some kind of strong security system as there’s a seemingly large possibility of hackers utilizing the cameras installed in these mirrors for personal benefit in criminal fashion.

Image courtesy of  Bloomberg Businessweek

Man Builds Own Remote Control for Google Chrome

Jeff Bower decided that Google’s Chromecast accessory needed an upgrade, so he decided to go ahead and make his own remote control for this streaming USB device.

His remote was designed through a Raspberry Pi model B architecture, connecting it to a case and buttons. According to our sources, the total costing of this unit was around $55 US. with the programming being completed through the help of Pychromecast, which is a development kit designed for the Chromecast and Raspberry Pi technology.

According to reports, this unit functioned well with Chromecast apps such as Google Play movie store – with Bower stating that unfortunately the remote didn’t function correctly with third-party apps.

Bower discussed his build and findings on his personal Google+ page, commenting on facets of development and Netflix compatibility:

“When I tested against Google Play and Plex content (the majority of my viewing) it worked great, but as I dug deeper into the implementation I realized that Plex only works because of a custom file describing the commands (Plex is nice like that). Netflix is another story entirely, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the clear that can be captured and they’ve got a habit of locking out third party controls.”

Image courtesy of BGR and ebower.

Twitter Users Beware: It’s Now Tracking Other Apps Installed

Twitter has just announced that it is now tracking other apps that its users have installed, therefore allowing ads to be more directly targeted to all.

This change will reportedly see users receive a notification when the setting is turned on, allowing you to opt out of this service through your phone settings. If you’re using an iOS device, this option is named “limit ad tracking”, whereas Android phones have it listed as “opt out of interest-based ads”.

This change is reportedly only tracking lists of apps that users have installed, not any data within these applications. It also will not collect the app lists from people who have previously turned off this targeting update.

Obviously, users are outraged at this change – claiming multiple privacy issues among other things.

What are your thoughts on this subject? We’ve already seen many change occur with applications publicly claiming and being rumored to track users data, applications and information. This is yet another step in that direction.

Image and information courtesy of News.com.au

German Smartphone: Linshof i8 with 80GB of Storage

Equipped with a 5-inch 1080P screen, utilizing super AMOLED IPS technology and with 80GB of internal storage – this German smartphone offering by Linshof is named the i8 and seems to be one of the first top-notch smartphone offerings out of this country.

Reports claim that there will be two produced models of this phone, both featuring 80GB of storage. This storage offering is reportedly designed in the form of a 64GB memory chip added into the device alongside an additional 16GB memory chip. This is said to not only provide more storage, but also faster transfer speeds – something we haven’t really seen before offered commercially, thus we are interested in seeing the release results.

This phone will come pre-installed with Android 5.0, using Linshof’s own “hardware acceleration” user interface which looks somewhat similar to that of a Windows OS phone –  this is due to it’s ‘panel’ like design.

Alongside the 1080p display, the i8 will be complete with a 3100mAh battery, GPS support, Blutooth 4.0, an electronic compass, gyroscope and 3D support. This comes alongside HDMI 1.4 support, NFC connectivity and WiFi/LTE (4G) capabilities.

Expected to be released to the public for $380 US, this product is priced extremely competitively into the market and is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2015. Alongside the i8 release, there’s an expected upcoming tablet release predicted.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more product release information.

Image and information courtesy of Chiphell and ITHome

“Legends of Hearthstone” Comes to Android Devices

Blizzard has recently revealed that their special edition “Legends of Hearthstone” game will be soon released to Android devices and be seen as similar to the iPad offering. Quoted to require a 6-inch screen and a minimum of 1GB of system memory, alongside needing the user to update to an Android 5.0 operating system.

Specific information regarding the operation requirements include:

  • Display: 6-inch or larger
  • System: Android version 4.0 after
  • Memory: 1GB

Recommended devices to run this game include:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 (2013)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
  • Asus Google Nexus 7
  • Huawei MediaPad X1
  • NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Note LTE 10.1 N8020
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
  • Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet LTE

The devices above have been recommended to run the game at a sooth frame-rate. However given the specifications listed above, it is to be noted that Asus’ Transformer Pad TF300T will not function correctly – this is due to VR540 and 544 GPU’s may cause image display issues. The avoid some display issues, it is recommended that you can however try to update your device to the latest operating system to Lollipop 5.0 or Fire OS 4.5.1.

Hearthstone Legends does not have an exact reported release date as of yet, we will report as the story develops.

Image and information courtesy of Chiphell

Tablets in Trouble Again – iPad Shipments Decline Further

The world isn’t as interested in tablets as we once were and not even Apple is able to stay perched on top a cloud of fan-boys and drones.

Shipments of tablets worldwide will increase by only 7.2% in 2014, compared to a 52.5% growth last calendar year. In exact numbers this equals a 235.7 million total shipment number for tablets, globally. Amongst this is an IDC prediction of Apple’s iPad sales to sit at 64.7 million total units, seeing a decline of 12.7% comparative to 2013 – this is opposite to their Mac computer and iPhone sales which have reported growth in each area respectively.

Alongside these results, global shipment numbers of PCs and smartphones have seen a rise. We’ve reported on similar stories in the recent past, with a few different theories as to why smartphones continue to rise and tablets are falling. One of the main examples seems to be that due to smartphone screens getting larger (iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 4), there seems to be less and less reasons to purchase a tablet for day to day usage. If your phone already has a powerful Intel processor, a 5″ screen, 4G internet and copious applications, is there really a need for you to spend $400+ on a high quality tablet to match it? People are starting to think not.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has reportedly expressed hope that iPad shipments will be back in the green year-on-year, but so far it’s simple not the case. However, Apple personally are expecting a possible boost through an enterprise partnership with business kings IBM – set to deliver mobile devices customized with cloud, management and analytical software.

The predicted growth ranging up to the year 2018 is expected to sit at around 5.4% total, however an addition of Windows 10, Google OS and Apple’s new technologies may see this alter slightly.

Information thanks to PC World
Image courtesy of
OBJ

Play Snake with no Monitor on CoolerMaster’s QuickFire Rapid-i

Feeling a bit bored and looking for something extra to do? Work or school computers have locked down every game and Reddit links are all purple, even on the 120th page? It’s time to get yourself a CoolerMaster Quickfire Rapid-I mechanical keyboard which will give you the ability to play snake – without any monitor involved.

Jeroen Domburg has hacked CM’s new device, allowing you to play a classic game of snake as seen on the old Nokia phones – utilizing the back-light and arrow keys for all operation. Designed as a little side-project and something to make you look like you’re working, Domburgs hack see’s your snake travel across the whole keyboard face, picking up the tittle extenders along the way, making the game harder and your snake longer.

If you’re looking for an alternative to games on your smartphone and the possibility of looking like you’re working whilst at work, look no further than this handy crack.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

HP Finish off their Fiscal Year with Interesting Q4 Results

Hewlett-Packard have just their fourth quarter earnings this past Tuesday, posting some interesting results to round out their 2014 fiscal year.

Here’s a quick summary of the report:

  • Net income of $2 billion, rated at 70 cents per share
  • Non-GAAP earnings at $1.06 per share on a revenue of $28.4 billion – dropping 2% year-on-year
  • Wall street was reportedly looking for earnings of $1.06 per share on revenue of $28.76 billion
  • HP shared have fallen by roughly 2.6% in the after-hours trading due to the above fact
  • Fiscal 2014 saw HP bring in earnings of $3.74 per share and a revenue of $111.5 billions, falling 1% compared to 2013’s results

HP’s CEO Meg Whitman commented on these results, stating that her companies “turnaround” is back on track and running as expected:

“In FY14, we stabilized our revenue trajectory, strengthened our operations, showed strong financial discipline, and once again made innovation the cornerstone of our company. Our product roadmaps are the best they’ve been in years and our partners and customers believe in us. There’s still a lot left to do, but our efforts to date, combined with the separation we announced in October, sets the stage for accelerated progress in FY15 and beyond.”

As we said in the beginning, this information provides interesting results. Their non-GAAP earnings are down 2% year-on-year alongside their fiscal 2013 revenue falling 1% year-on-year, but they certainly aren’t generating a loss and seem to be traveling much better than Sony at the moment. who have been reporting major issues amongst the eastern mobile market, alongside their picture studio being taken over by hackers in the past few days.

HP are in the middle of their plan to splinter their PC and printer businesses from their enterprise unit, we’re interested to see what the end result will being after 2015 is through. In the mean time, we’re going to have to see what this whole “five year turnaround” will bring to us, day by day.

Image courtesy of Open IT Strategies

Samsung Tease Eye-Controlled Mouse

Set to help the disabled use computers with ease, Samsung’s eye-tracking technology will allow users to control their computers functionality without needing to handle a physical mouse.

Developed in-house by Samsung engineers, this technology is an advancement of their EYECAN system, a mouse control device utilized through glasses worn by the user. This updated technology is coined the EYECAN+ and enables you to simply look at where you wish to click and physically blink to activate commands and controls on your system. In their demonstrations, Samsung made sure to point out that you can type and perform ‘drag-and-stop’ commands with their new advancement – meaning you can perform simple tasks and play games such as Angry Birds.

This is reportedly not the first eye-tracking software to hit the market and quoted as not the best. However, Samsung are rumored to be making this a open-source style project, meaning other companies are able to gather and build on this technology, with a lot of the ‘hard yards’ already being completed by the Samsung engineering team.

This means that if it were to make it to the public (which Samsung is not planning to do), we could see this retail for an expected $150 in the local market. Further meaning that any person or carer should be able to purchase this device without too much difficulty, massively increasing their computer using abilities.

Image courtesy of TrustedReviews

Australian Prime Minister in Facebook Fan Scandal

Recently, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been receiving a lot of hate from the Australian public, with people noticing that the bulk of his Facebook likes were residents of India – ok lets be honest, he always receives hate no matter what.

This brought upon allegations that Mr. Abbott and his management were using a commonly seen scheme to purchase cheap ‘bot’ Facebook likes from various organizations in order to bolster his public appearance and make it look much more appealing to the unwary public. However, new news has come to light that apparently this bolstering of fans is due to a ‘selfie’ posted with the Indian Prime Minister, taken around the time of the recent G20 visit.

This image was taken in Victoria, Australia at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and saw Abbott’s fan-base skyrocket in New Delhi – ranking amongst the #1 location for all of his fans around the world. The original allegations were first brought to light by a local comedy duo called “The Bondi Hipsters“.

When confronted on this speculation, a spokesperson for Mr. Abbott claimed that the likes were due to the selfie being promoted by Indian Prime Minister and no like purchasing had taken place.

“It is no secret that the Prime Minister hosted a number of world leaders in recent times, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These visits attracted large international audiences to the Prime Minister’s social media channels, thus generating a spike in organic engagement with the page.”

Source: News.com.au.

Is Your Sony Charging Cable Genuine?

Recently, a charging cable has been released catered toward Sony products. The Chikou charging cable was originally thought of my most to be an official Sony product, brandishing a very similar design to their architecture and color schemes as we’ve seen Sony produce for years. Later on, Sony Taiwan released a statement to IT Home claiming that it was not an officially branded product.

Confusion was still wide-spread as Japanese branches of Sony were claiming through online portals that the Chikou charging cable was a Sony Mobile Authorized product and the production line quality was closely monitored by their servicing staff.

The cable was released with some impressive features, well as impressive as you can get for a cable. Featuring fire retardant materials and a magnetic connection to the phone to hold it in place, this cable can actually only be used with Sony products. It’s designed to clamp only to Sony products bodies, being measured and designed in this fashion.

We’re unable to come to a final answer as to if this is an official Sony product or not, but it heeds as a warning to those looking to buy any ‘official’ product. With so many knock-0ff and dodgy brands around these days, it’s hard to know if what you’re getting is actually genuine, or a cheap replica – or if there’s a third party company producing items (like in this case), is it actually approved by your products company?

If you’re looking for the always-safe option, go ahead and purchase directly only from your smartphone companies website. But, as with all ‘officially licensed’ products – expect to be paying a 200% premium.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

AT&T to Release Sonim XP6, Rugged Anti-Smartphone

American mobile operator AT&T has just announced a new product under the ‘anti-smartphone’ category – the Sonim XP6. Said to be extremely rugged in design, this new smartphone incorporates a physical keyboard and button support into its architecture. This announced device has been marketed as a phone that can support most common features as seen in regular smartphones, but provides the user with a rugged alternative useable in all scenarios and situations.

The Sonim XP6 can be used with AT&T’s EPTT press-to-talk service, giving consumers another way to manage their clients, management and staff easier whilst on the work site. They’ve also been given IP68 and  IP69 certifications, meaning it is resistant against splashes of water, mud or any other liquid you may come into contact with while on the grind.

Marketed as drop-resistant, said to be able to be comfortably dropped onto a concrete floor, the Sonim XP6’s screen can also be seen in direct sunlight. AT&T have further included an extremely loud 103 db phone ringer capability, said to help identify when calls are coming over the sound of heavy machinery.

There hasn’t been an announced release date or price for this phone yet, but given it’s ‘industrial’ nature – you can exepct it to be quite pricey. This is a common trend amongst companies who cater products towards a commercial audience, why should they lower the price when it’s a company paying for the goods?

Image courtesy of Chiphell

ASRock Announce X99 WS-E/10G Motherboard – 22 Gbps NIC

Large scale motherboard manufacturer ASRock has just released their new X99 motherboard, the X99 WS-E/10G – featuring an amazing on-board network interface capabilities of 22 Gbps.

It’s able to achieve such speeds due to its two included Intel I210AT Gigabit Ethernet controllers, coupled with a dual 10-GIGE network interface provided by a single-chip Intel X540. This brings to mind a popular ‘Xzhibit meme’ which would read something like – “Yo dawg, I heard you like NIC’s, so I put a NIC on your NIC so you can network while you network.” This amalgamation of chips result in a blisteringly fast transfer peak speed of 22 Gbps, which will out-match your data drives and internet connection in an instant – it’s time for them to catch up!

ASRock has reportedly released some tests showing the fast transfer speeds in action, likening it to Google Fiber’s 1 Gbps offering and claiming its superiority to this service.

Alongside this NIC offering, ASRock’s new X99 motherboard gives you seven expansion slots (supporting Quad CrossFire and SLI configurations), 12 SATA ports and the ability to utilize up to Xenon Processor models E5 v3 (Haswell-EP) and 128GB of ECC memory.

Given this information, it seems that ASRock has provided us with a solid server option – however there is no mention of retail price, so don’t hold your breath just yet. Even though the 22 Gbps NIC offering is a bit of a gimmick and will vastly outmatch most, if not all, hardware in your possession – it’s nice that the NIC is no longer a bottleneck on our networks. Remember the days of a 10 Mbps card? We do, it sucked.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Windows 10 Build 9897 ISO Images Creep Online

A few weeks ago, Microsoft released a newly compiled version of their upcoming Operating System – Windows 10. However, some tech savvy enthusiasts have cleaned it up a little and re-released it for illegal download.

Obviously we’re not going to link the download instructions here, as we said it’s illegal. But it’s interesting to point out that in this day and age, pirated copies for all kinds of software are generally expected to appear just mere hours or days after the original release. Recently we reported on Ubisoft’s gloat, claiming that all those who had pirated their latest Assassins Creed: Unity game, were met with the inability to change their FOV settings. Just a few hours later, well-known game cracking group Skidrow released an update to their version, allowing consumers to change their FOV as they like. Making their mark and claiming that they weren’t to be messed with.

Back to Windows – this download provides the user with the ability to skip all automatic updates, giving you the complete latest package in one download file.

What are your thoughts on Windows 10 so far? Since the release of Windows 7, we’ve seen many users claim that there is simply no need to upgrade their Operating System, saying that Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 offer no real advancements in software technology to entice them to take the plunge.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Sony Pictures Brought to a Halt – Hackers Have Taken Over

A (now deleted) member of the Reddit community has recently brought to light that all Sony Pictures staff have been locked out of their office systems, with the warning message above being displayed on every single monitor. The original thread can be found here, with various user reports of people who have friends, or friends of friends confirming this information.

We’ve come to learn that all Sony staff have been sent home until further notice, while the Sony executives figure out what to do with this issue at hand. Sony have shut down all their computers in Los Angeles as a precaution and are working on recovering their functionality.

Here’s a quick run down on the data avaialble as shown in the above image, by Reddit user tehrabbit:

“ZIP file contains 3 files, LIST1, and LIST2 followed by a “Readme” file.
The Readme contains a list of e-mails.
the “#GOP” refers to “Guardians of Peace” apparently.

Contents of README.txt:

These two files are the lists of secret data we have acquired from SPE.
Anyone who needs the data, send an email titled ��To the Guardians of Peace�� to the following email addresses.
marc.parker-8t52ebo@yopmail.com
emma.murphy-0ohbp3m1@yopmail.com
lisa.harris-cxkjch3@yopmail.com
john.murphy-7o2h3uh3@yopmail.com
axel.turner-ffqbv9c@yopmail.com
lisa.harris-ezd6e1j@yopmail.com
mike.morris-f2iyqki@yopmail.com
abc@spambog.com
lena@spambog.com
john@spambog.com

In Addition, The two files, LIST1 and LIST2 seem to contain file names of several PDF, DOC, and Excel files related to Internal Financial Reports.

File size information:
638359749 list1.txt
397802180 list2.txt

Rather large text files, mostly just a list of what looks like the contents of a fileserver.

Some members have tested the above email address’, but receive no confirmation or immediate response when the special pass-code is sent. This is rumored to be because these hackers will be sending out all of the information in one hit as the deadline is met. What exactly will happen when the deadline is reached? We’ll have to wait and find out.

We will continue to report as the story develops here on eTeknix.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Become No-Fly Zones

Ever wondered why there aren’t many aerial photos of Disney’s theme parks around? Gizmodo has just complied information that they’ve become highly protected no-fly zones quite some time ago. These prohibited air spaces are said to come around for other reasons than general terror threat.

Flash back to 2003, Disney had successfully talked Congress into declaring the airspace around its theme parks as a no-fly zone. This reportedly came at a good time due to Congress passing big spending bills all centered around the war in Iraq, meaning Disney were able to sneak in their bill which had been on the table for a long time. The space in question actually includes a three mile radius around Disneyland and Walt Disney World, not just the buildings themselves.

According to reports, the main reason they wanted this passed wasn’t due to threat of bombing, photography or bird poop – it’s due to aerial advertisements. We further learned that other theme parks don’t get no-fly zone privileges, even if a terror thread is possible. A Disney spokeswoman, Leslie Goodman, announced at the time of the bill passing:

 “The sole and exclusive motivation for seeking these restrictions is for the safety and enjoyment of our guests”

She went on to explain that this restriction was targeted at things such as “banner ads from trial lawyers” and pilots “buzzing the parks.”

Due to this ruling, there was over 100 aerial advertising companies that were effectively shut down from operations, seeing them lose business until breaking point. However, you’re not plastered with advertisements while you’re trying to enjoy your triple priced hot dog and find your lost third son in the crowd.

Image courtesy of Travel Channel

Square Bringing Apple Pay to Small Businesses

We’ve recently reported on Apple Pay coming to your mobile phone through their technology advancements, now news has come to light that a credit card processing service for small firms called Square is looking to bring it to the wider audience. The original list of participating Apple Pay stores was completely dominated by big names, leaving the small fish in some hot water.

In basic terms, Square is described as a mobile credit-card reader that allows a small business to process payments without needing a terminal. Originally seen as a competitor to Apple Pay, Square’s founder Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that his companies service is designed to function as  “a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments”, not a competitor to Apple’s newly announced technology. Adding to this, he is planning to integrate Apple Pay compatibility into his existing model with development said to commence in 2015.

CNN reported that this change will require a hardware update into Square’s existing technology, which currently serves as a module that plugs into smartphones. However, we’ve come to learn that most smartphones with NFC capabilities will quite possibly allow Square’s Apple Pay integration to work flawlessly without touching any hardware upgrades. If you’re a small business and are planning to use Apple pay, it’s about time you grabbed yourself a Nexus 5 or later model phone.

This is some good news for small business owners for sure, once again opening up another portal for their customers to pay with ease. We’re waiting with baited breath to see if, when and how Apple Pay takes off in the mainstream market.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Bitcoin ATM’s Pop Up Around Melbourne, Australia

A few months ago, there was one currency on everyone’s lips – Bitcoin. People were scrambling to make their own Bitcoin mining machines, Reddit users developed their own currency called Dogecoin and our parents and grandparents become more technology-confused than  ever before.

Since the hype has died down, I’ve just received reports from a friend of mine that Bitcoin ATM’s have just started popping up in the Central CBD of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The image you’re looking at above is taken from the famous “Melbourne Central” shopping center and train station, allowing users to exchange, buy and sell Bitcoin all from a handy kiosk located in the middle of the hustle-and-bustle. Unfortunately a higher resolution image became impossible when Facebook Messenger was utilized as the method of communication.

We’ve seen more Bitcoin payment options pop up around the globe, with SpendBitcoins.com being developed solely to support new-age business’ supporting this advancement in technology. Some of the companies notable from this list include that of NewEgg and Expedia.

Will we see this type of currency make it into the ‘mainstream’ market? It’s really hard to say. But it’s certainly nice to see a ‘global currency’ give it a red hot go. Exchange rates are the bane of any well-traveled business person or backpacker.

Have you seen a Bitcoin ATM around your area? Let us know, we’d love to start tracking them!

Source: TweakTown.

Symantec Uncovers Tricky ‘Regin’ Malware

Anti-Virus company Symantec has identified a heavy malware threat named ‘Regin’. It’s said by PC World that this nasty piece of work was likely developed by a nation state and used by these criminals to spy on governments, infrastructure operators, businesses, researching and individuals as far back as 2008.

Symantec released a statement on Sunday alongside a technical paper about the malware. Said to span across 10 countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan, Symantec had the following to say: “Regin displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen”. It’s interesting to note that England, Australia and USA are not included on this list.

Worried for your own safety? You probably shouldn’t be. Up until this news has been uncovered and spread across the globe, you hadn’t been effected by it personally, so why would you now? We’re not trying to partake in any ‘big news’ fear mongering, don’t worry. However, if you’re the president of one of the countries listed above, then maybe you should take a knee and listen. A very select target audience, I know.

It’s reported that the first incarnation of Regin was used to spy on multiple organizations from 2008 to 2011, seeing it withdrawn and re-injected late into 2013. Symantec also claim that nearly half of the systems with Regin installed have been identified to involve private individuals and small businesses.

Symantec claims that Regin is a back-door Trojan that is “customizable with an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target” and “it provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance.” Alongside stating that “its authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks.”

We’ll continue to report as the story develops.

Image courtesy of Techtimes

Amazon UK Refers to “The PC Master Race” in Poll

Once upon a time, Amazon UK allowed for users to vote for their favorite console of all time. According to “eight facts we learned from those entries”, the PC Master Race only missed the knock out cut by nine votes.

Confused? The PC Master Race is a commonly used term by heavy computer users, often claiming that the advances in computer technology outweigh that of consoles and referring to them as ‘peasants’. It is rumored that this term was first coined (or made popular by) well-known PC game reviewer “Yahtzee” from a series aptly named ‘Zero Punctuation‘, due to his fast talking nature. In this series he refers often to the ‘Glorious PC Master Race’ in his witty and informative gaming reviews – this is seen in the image above.

This information was provided to us through Reddit user LightninLew, courtesy of the /r/pcmasterrace subreddit. In the comment section, there’s the general slander for console gaming and it’s users – but as always an interesting appreciation for the of the older consoles, with one user stating “… I’m OK with this. PS2 was my childhood.” It’s an interesting loophole, whereas consoles such as the PS2, Nintendo 64 and SNES often seem to slip past the ‘console peasant’ stereotype. Could this be due to nostalgia?

Another user in the comment section defended the PS2 claim and likening it to the GameCube, claiming that “The PS2 and GameCube are what I at least consider the last “true” consoles – just plug in and play”. Further comments were made that due to the nature of PC’s being close to console architecture at that time, they’re exempt from the ‘peasant’ classification.

Cover image courtesy of STEAM
Inset image courtesy of Reddit