QNAP Releases Budget-Friendly Dual-Core TS-x28 NAS’

We often both report on and test high-end NAS devices here at eTeknix, but that isn’t what everybody needs nor wants. Sometimes you want a budget-oriented and basic solution, and QNAP just released a new series of devices in this category. The two new NAS are called the TS-128 and TS-228 and are respectively 1-bay and 2-bay NAS’.

The new TS-x28 series is built around basically the same base as we saw in the TAS-268 NAS that we recently reviewed, just without the HDMI connector and dual Android system. The TS-x28 series is still a feature-rich NAS series for users that want to easily handle file backup and synchronisation tasks, both locally and through the internet.

Create your own personal cloud system without monthly subscription fees and storage limitations while you increase the security as all files are stored in the safety of your own home and on your own server. With the myQNAPcloud service, you get multiple remote access services to convenient access, manage, and share multimedia files located on your TS-x28 NAS from anywhere with a web browser. The mobile QNAP apps such as Qfile, Qphoto, Qmusic, Qvideo and Qmanager all work flawlessly with the new devices too. The Qsync utility is particularly useful as it supports file synchronisation across multiple devices and users can acquire the latest files from any device connected to the NAS whenever they need it.

Multimedia services are no problem with the TS-x28 series either, even though it doesn’t have the direct connection options. You can still stream through DLNA and other services to get all your media content directly on your TV and other smart devices. The Surveillance station also comes with 2 free IP camera channels for that home security setup that you might have considered for a while.

Overall, a tiny NAS that has all the basics and none of all the extras you possible don’t need nor want. Hardware wise it is powered by an ARM v7 dual-core CPU with 1.1GHz clock speed and has 1GB DDR3 memory. You get one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port besides the Gigabit Ethernet port for connectivity. The TS-228 is available now for around £200, but I could only find placeholders for the price of the TS-128 at the time of writing. My guess would be around £160.

Key Specifications

  • TS-128: 1-bay mini-tower NAS
  • TS-228: 2-bay mini-tower NAS
  • ARM v7 dual-core 1.1GHz processor
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3.5” SATA HDD
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port; 1 x USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN port

Short URL Addresses May Be Creating Easy Paths To Spy On Your Data

We’ve all seen those huge URL’s, be it for a website or a document you have saved in the cloud, they just seem to go on and on with no sign of ever stopping. Then you spot the tiny URL they offer you instead, short and sweet with only a few letters and numbers to copy and paste before you can open your document anywhere you want. Why not use it? well for starters that small URL may be creating just as easy a path to spy on your data!

Research conducted by Martin Georgiev and Vitaly Shmatikov suggest that looking at the abbreviated “short URL’s” used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and even bit.ly, a company dedicated to creating and sharing short URL addresses, revealed that using a simple trial and error method they were able to gain access to your cloud storage files.

In particular, Georgiev and Shmatikov were able to find and access files shared through Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive with short URLs. If this wasn’t scary enough, someone could place malicious code in the files that had write permissions enabled, allowing them to infect and spread their effect all through one of your files stored in the cloud. Estimating that around 7 percent of the accounts on OneDrive and Google Drive they scanned were vulnerable to this flaw, it’s scary, to say the least.

More worrying may be companies differing responses to be being alerted about this result, with Google doubling the character length of their short URLs, while Microsoft stated that the vulnerability “does not currently warrant an MRSC case”, while quietly removing the short link function on OneDrive so not to expose others to the problem while they no doubt investigate.

Microsoft Is Suing The US Government Over Cloud Data Searches

Microsoft is but one of many technology firms that have recently moved their focus from internal hard drives to the cloud, allowing people to access their data from anywhere in the world given the right details. The problem is other people also have access to this information, both legally and illegally and Microsoft is suing the US government over their attempts to force companies to remain quiet on the matter.

Microsoft has now filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department stating that it’s not just wrong but it’s “unconstitutional” that companies should be forced to remain silent when they are asked to hand over any data you might store in the cloud. In their complaint, Microsoft says that section 2705(b) of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act “sweeps too broadly” and effectively gives the government the power to gag companies, regardless of the reasons they are investigating someone. Microsoft even went so far as to name the number of secrecy orders they’d received in the past 18 months, a huge number sitting at almost 2,600.

The best part of almost 2.6 thousand secrecy orders, was that over two-thirds would never run out thanks to them containing “no fixed end date”. The end result is clear, Microsoft wants section 2705(b) ruled as unconstitutional and removed, a judgment that would affect every technology company based on the internet these days thanks to the broad range of uses that the cloud is utilized for.

Recently Reddit removed their Warrant canary, giving users a legal warning that the government had requested access to at least some of their information (possibly). While other companies, such as Apple has been arguing with the FBI over who and where the line should be drawn for gaining access to devices and the steps they can make companies provide to open the door for them.

SpotCam Announces HD Eva Wi-Fi Camera with Free Cloud Recording

Monitoring your home while you are away can be both tricky to setup and manage as well as get quite expensive depending on your needs, but there are simple solutions too. One of those simple solutions is the newly introduced SpotCam HD Eva which is a complete and user-friendly IP webcam solution with free online recording.

The HD Eva can both pan and tilt its wide-angle lens in order to monitor your pets and loved ones anywhere in the room. You can eliminate dead zones with his and get high-quality camera footage with full 3660-degree horizontal movement and 70-degree vertical movement – and this can be controlled from anywhere and any device that has a web-browser.

Most cameras like this offer you a live view for free, but recording will either cost you monthly plans or they are limited to motion-detected clips. The HD Eva offers free unlimited 24-hour cloud continuous video recording out of the box. SpotCam users can rewind and review a full 24-hour’s footage at any time without paying a subscription. That said, you can pay monthly or yearly plans in order to get access to 3-day, 7-day, or 30-day recording options too. All files are stored in Amazon’s cloud, which should keep them pretty safe and it is considered one of the world’s most secure cloud service.

The camera offers 720p HD recordings with sound and H.264 compression to save both bandwidth and storage. It features 18 IR LEDs that make it able to record when it’s practically dark too. Built-in motion and audio detection can also be configured to send out notifications to you.

With a built-in microphone and speaker, two-way communication is possible too. Say hi to your pets or yell at them when they go where they shouldn’t – it’s a small job for the HD Eva. Price-wise it isn’t the cheapest, but considering the features and included 24-recording service, £169.99 is a fair offering.

Kindle Users Must Update To Keep Using Online Services

When people think of e-books most will associate the word with the Kindle, Amazons e-reader. The reason being is that the kindle has become the symbol of e-readers, with the electronic ink making the original device easier to read than a traditional screen and the latest version including everything from Netflix to Angry birds. If you own a kindle though you may want to update otherwise you won’t be able to use their online services.

Revealed by Amazon, anyone using an outdated version of kindles software will need to update by March 22nd, 2016 or they will lose the ability to download books from the cloud, access the kindle store or even use other services provided by the device.

Failure to install the update by this date will provide users with the following message:

Your Kindle is unable to connect at this time. Please make sure you are within wireless range and try again. If the problem persists, please restart your Kindle from the Menu in Settings and try again

If you find this message on your kindle after March 22nd you will have to do a manual update to regain access to kindles services. Below you have a list of the version that each type of kindle will need to be at in order to keep using the services.

Kindle 1st Generation (2007) 1.2.1 Use Wireless
Kindle 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010) ** 3.4.2 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 4th Generation (2011) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 5th Generation (2012) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011) ** 5.3.7.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012) ** 5.6.1.1 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Voyage 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015) No Update Needed No Update Needed

For more information regarding how to update or how to find out your software’s current version, please check out Amazon’s post here.

Microsoft Estimate Around 8000 Companies Looking To Try SQL Servers On Linux

Microsoft recently announced their interest in providing their SQL server software for Linux operating systems. It would seem the news has been well received, with over 8000 companies looking to try SQL servers on Linux.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Cloud and Enterprise, stated that by his estimates around 8000 companies were already signed up to try SQL Server 2016 on Linux, with at least 25% of that being fortune 500 companies.

Given that companies like Amazon and Oracle offer similar services, the fact that so many are interested in what Microsoft could provide shows the reputation their software has for businesses. With the move showing that Microsoft is serious not only about the open source community that is commonly found using Linux but also offering alternatives to the cloud for companies to use.

While the cloud offers scalable solutions and choices for companies all over the world, many companies are hesitant to take it on board due to the fact that they lose control over its security and access. Being able to run SQL servers on Linux, using Microsoft’s software would help businesses keep their servers in-house, offering that little bit of choice that companies are often forced to forgo in exchange for cheaper rates.

ASUS Agrees to Regular Security Audits

ASUS are a well-known brand for technology, creating everything from laptops to gaming mice. One thing people may not realise is that ASUS are also a maker of wireless technology, something that has unfortunately gotten them into trouble in the past.

ASUS, a Taiwanese manufacturer of hardware, once stated that their devices could “protect computers from any unauthorized access, hacking and virus attacks”. This is something you should never say, for anything, especially computer security. As a result of this, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) found several flaws in their routers security, some of which were described as critical.

Using the security flaws, it would have been possible that people could gain unauthorised access to the web based control panels, granting you access to information regarding the wireless network and the possibility to even install viruses or malware directly to the router.

This history of bad security should change now though with ASUS agreeing to the FTC’s condition that it subject itself to biannually security audits of its software, while also notifying its users when the latest update is available. It will also cost them in the future if they decide to make another “promise” which turns out to be false, with each violation costing them a staggering $16,000.

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U Wireless Repeater

Even with the best of routers, you can run into trouble with insufficient coverage on your wireless networks and that is where repeaters come into play. Mostly we see small repeaters that plug directly into the wall socket and aren’t much bigger than a socket and switch put together, but ASUS’ latest repeater dubbed the RP-AC68U breaks with that norm.

The newly presented ASUS RP-AC68U is a dual-band wireless AC1900 repeater shaped like a pillar and with a list of advanced functions that make it stand out even more from the crowd. The stylish RP-AC68U features four internal high-performance antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive) and allows users to easily extend coverage of an existing 802.11ac Wi-Fi network with fast speeds of up to 1900Mbps.

The rear of the wireless repeater shows just how much this repeater goes out of the norm as it comes with five Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports built-in as well as a USB 3.0 port for connecting storage devices to your network. The USB port supports ASUS AiCloud and can act with simple NAS functionality and as your own personal cloud server with apps available for both iOS and Android devices. The RP-AC68U can also be used in Access Point mode to add ultra-fast Wi-Fi convenience to any existing wired network.

The illuminated red accents can be turned on or off by a convenient touch sensor incorporated in the ASUS logo on the front and the installation and setup is just as easy. The repeater features a simple one-touch setup with WPS and it has LED signal strength indicators for both bands. This allows you to easily find the optimal placement for the repeater.

Pricing and availability are yet to be announced. It surely won’t be the cheapest repeater on the block, but it also provides a lot more functionality than we’re used to from such devices. It is as close as it can be to a router without being one.

Saving Money Online: 5 Tips for 2016

No matter how much you make in a month, there is always room for more. But sometimes making more is not an option, and your only choice is to save. Luckily, we have the internet, which is filled with quality services and products that we can buy for less. Here are 10 tips on how you can save on services over the internet.

Free cloud backup

Most cloud services offer you a free plan, with a variable storage size. When it comes to space, Microsoft’s OneDrive is your best option, which offers you 15GB of space completely free of charge. You can use it as you please, and it even comes with a basic version of Microsoft’s office suite that you can use to create and edit documents. To back up your files automatically, you can install the OneDrive app, and sync your files automatically with the cloud storage – completely free.

If you own a Windows Phone powered smartphone, and choose to back up your pictures to OneDrive, Microsoft will add another 15GB of space to your free plan.

Free premium gaming

If you are a gambler you can save money here by registering a free account at one of the real money gaming outlets listed. You can access their complete game library completely free of charge – but, of course, your winnings will only be virtual.

Free ccTLD

Planning to launch a blog, but you don’t have the cash? Head over to Freenom, the only domain registrar that offers free ccTLDs (country code top level domain names) on the internet. You can choose from several options, like .tk, .ml, .ga and several others.

You can use your nameservers to operate the domains with your existing web hosting service.

Free hosting

Speaking of hosting – there are still quite a few companies that offer free hosting plans to their users. You can choose to host your own domain (like the one from Freenom). The free hosting plans usually come with 1 addon domain, 1 MySQL database, 1GB of space, and other goodies like cPanel, Fantastico, and so on.

Free SSL certificates

Let’s Encrypt is a US based nonprofit that has set its goal to bring encryption to all website owners. Its services offers everyone the possibility to use their SSL/TLS certificates completely free of charge. While not all web hosting services support Let’s Encrypt, their numbers are growing day after day. One day the service might become available at free hosting service providers, allowing bloggers and web designers to offer their readers a more secure way to connect to them.

Dell Announces Cloud Based BIOS Security

Dell has taken some flak recently due to some security issues found on their machines, which they were quick to fix. Now they are showing further dedication to improving the security of their business PCs and laptops by adding functions that protect the BIOS from malware.

Attacks on a computer’s BIOS certainly aren’t common, but they are hard for typical security software to handle due to the nature of the BIOS and even typical measures such as formatting hard drives and reinstalling operating systems are unable to fix the issue. Dell’s new Data Protection Endpoint Security Suite Enterprise is to include BIOS verification functionality that is able to tackle this potentially vulnerable part of PCs.

The BIOS verification works alongside a cloud server that holds valid BIOS data. When the PC boots up, it sends a copy of its BIOS data to the secure server, where it is tested against official metrics of how the BIOS image should be according to Dell’s BIOS lab. By handling the verification on the server-side, it avoids a compromised PC sabotaging the result of the comparison and ensures any checks take place in a secure environment. Any BIOS that is detected as potentially compromised is then reported to the administrator who can take appropriate actions, with plans to automate a recovery process in the works.

This BIOS verification will be implemented on Dell systems that are based on the sixth generation Intel chipset, which includes the Latitude line of PCs as well as a number of Dell Precision, OptiPlex, and XPS PCs and Dell Venue Pro tablets. The suite will be optional for users of compatible PCs and will cost extra. It is interesting to see where Dell will go with the Data Protection Endpoint Security Suite in future, as its use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to protect against advanced and persistent threats could be the start of something great.

New Kingston Cloud Revolver Headset @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Kingston are already a popular choice for PC gamers, after the massive success of their Cloud and Cloud II gaming headsets. Now they’ve back with a completely new design, the HyperX Cloud Revolver headset, and this time, it’s a fully Kingston designed headset, no help from other parties such as QPAD.

The design certainly looks great, and the headset feels like a premium product and well ballanced. Equipped with new 50mm drivers, Kington promise they’ve finally made a Cloud beater, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The headband design is self adjusting for the perfect fit every time.

And there’s a soft leather padding for excellent noise suppression on the interior of the ear cups. Other than that, you can find a new microphone, which is said to be even better than the old one, so it’s certainly something we’re looking forward to testing later this year.

The new headset is expected to launch in Q2, with an RRP of $120 and $150 for the 3,5mm and USB versions resectively.

Microsoft Rushed OneDrive Storage Downgrade

After ending unlimited OneDrive storage and making a number of other controversial changes, Microsoft faced heavy criticism. After a storm of heavy backlash, Microsoft eventually rolled back some of the changes they were planning to implement. Many users felt that Microsoft had rushed things and didn’t properly handle the whole debacle. Now it turns out the rush was due to the fact that “a major publication was going to print something that was very damaging and was not true” about the online storage service.

According to Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela, Microsoft had realized that offering too many users unlimited storage simply wasn’t sustainable and was planning the change. Unfortunately, an external factor forced the issue.

“We had given ourselves a couple more months to get everything lined up, all in one fell swoop. OneDrive for Business, OneDrive for consumer, how we grandfathered people, blah, blah blah.

We just were not ready. But the alternative of having a very damaging, borderline false story run in a massive publication […] We just didn’t do a good enough job in the sprint to beat the story to get the communications in the shape that they needed to be.”

In the end, it looks like Microsoft has mostly figured things out, though some issues remain. Hopefully, Microsoft has learned a lesson about communication and that if they offer users something, they’ll take it and run with it.

Synology DS216se 2-Bay Entry-Level and Cloud NAS Review

Introduction


I’ve reviewed quite a few high-end NAS lately and that isn’t the right match for everyone, maybe because you just have a limited budget or you just don’t need more. Today I’m taking a closer look at the Synology DS216se, a budget friendly 2-bay NAS that allows you to set up your own personal cloud for your files and backups as well as serving as traditional NAS for file storage and media streaming.

The Synology DS216se isn’t just a budget-friendly NAS when you purchase it, it keeps being a cost-effective NAS thanks to the low power consumption of just 14 watts while accessing and 5 watts when the hard drives go into sleep mode. You can further lower the running costs with the new scheduled power on and off feature. After all, there is no need to have the NAS running when you don’t need it.

Synology built the DS216se with a 32-bit Marvell Armada 370 (88F6707) ARM v7-based SoC that comes with built-in floating point engine, 256K L2 cache, and running at 800MHz. Along with the CPU, the DS216se features 256MB DDR3 memory soldered onto the PCB.

The built-in floating-point unit enhances the overall performance of the CPU, but it is particularly advantageous in speeding up thumbnail creation when uploading large amounts of photos or videos. The DS216se can deliver an average speed of 102 MB/s while reading and over 59 MB/s while writing in a RAID 1 configuration from a Windows environment. The NAS also features two USB 2.0 ports for printers or storage and one Gigabit Ethernet port for connectivity.

Synology’s QuickConnect allows a DDNS setup with much less hassle than the traditional DDNS providers offer. You can skip your network configuration and eliminate the manual port forwarding, make it work for all your NAS users, and even use it without a public IP address. That makes it easy to access your data from anywhere, may you be away or at home and whether you use a stationary or a mobile device.

This makes it extremely easy to create your personal cloud setup, freeing you up from costly monthly plans as well as the risk of large level data breaches. Store everything safely at home and access it securely via encrypted connections. The link expiry dates also ensure file sharing over the Internet is highly secure.

You can easily connect from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems with the use of FTP, SMB2, AFP, NFS and WebDAV with network recycle bin where supported. The Cloud Station is a simple way to back up everything to your NAS and it also supports Apple Time Machine for the Mac OS users. You can create backup jobs to and from the NAS, to other NAS, and to public cloud services such as Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure, SFR, and Hicloud. You can also sync your NAS with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, hubiC, and Baidu Cloud. So no matter what type of backup and in what direction, this NAS can do it.

Backup and syncing are just one thing, but the main feature of a NAS is still to store files and serve these in various scenarios. Next to the normal file sharing for app common operating systems, the DS216se also supports streaming to Samsung TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. The Photo Station, Video Station, and Audio Station apps allow you to build easy to navigate libraries and watch the content on pretty much any system, essentially turning your NAS into an entertainment hub.

The File Station app is a fast and secure feature for sharing and managing your files stored on DS216se. Just drag-n-drop data from a Mac or a PC to upload your files. Advanced filters make it easy to search for documents, photos, and videos and it also comes with a built-in FTP and email client. The DS216se also lets you organize and share files through an advanced web application where you can even share files and folders with others by simply sending a link. Files can be reached on mobile devices via the companion mobile app DS file while HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption, as well as link expiry dates ensure file sharing over the Internet is as secure as it can be.

Synology got a long list of other mobile apps available for both your Android and iOS devices, such as the DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download and DS cam apps. They allow you to access and manage the contents of your DS216se with smartphones and tablets. Thanks to the previously mentioned QuickConnect, it makes this just as easy while you’re on the road as when you’re at home and connected to the same local network.

The Synology DS216se is built-in a classic 2-piece design with a large fan at the rear that needs to be taken apart to install or switch hard disk drives. By default, the DS216se only supports 3.5-inch drives, but optional 2.5-inch adapters can be purchased should you want to use smaller HDD or SSDs.

Feature Highlights

  • Floating point unit enabled for multimedia processing
  • Affordable 2-Bay personal cloud for file sharing & backup
  • Consumes only 5.12W in hibernation
  • Scheduled power on/off further reduces energy consumption
  • DLNA®-Certified media server
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Packaging and Accessories

The Synology DS216se package follows the simple and eco-friendly design and it comes without any fancy and unnecessary colourful print. Both the front and the back showcase a big Synology NAS logo, so there is no doubt what’s inside.

The side has a sticker showing you what is inside with a picture of the device itself, what hardware it has, and what content the box has inside.

Unpacking the box we find a Quick Installation guide to get you going, an RJ45 LAN cable for network connectivity as well as a power supply brick with connector cable for the region you purchased it in and screws for the drives and enclosure.

Microsoft Will Grandfather OneDrive 15GB Free Storage Users

Just a little over a month ago, Microsoft announced some wide sweeping and controversial changes for their OneDrive cloud storage platform. Due to apparent customer abuse, the unlimited storage option as was going away and a new pricing tier system introduced. Free users also saw their capacity cut down from 15GB + 15GB to 5GB. The complaint though was that current users were going to see their plans change without being grandfathered in. This changes today at least for the free users.

From now till the end of January 2016, current OneDrive users can sign up here in order to keep their 15GB of free storage and 15GB of Camera Roll bonus if they have that as well. Customers will also be able to get Office 365 Personal free for one year along with the 1TB of storage that comes with that.

If Microsoft had done this in the first place, there likely wouldn’t have been the uproar or backlash that occurred. It ended up taking over 70,000 votes on the OneDrive feedback site to get Microsoft to change their tune. Ironically, paying users will still lose their unlimited storage and some of their plan options.

In the end, this is part of the transition that Microsoft is doing to try to make OneDrive more profitable and more of a way to glue together their Windows ecosystem rather than as pure cloud storage. By offering some free storage that most users likely won’t use, Microsoft may get back some of the free will they’ve lost with their initial debacle. You can find Microsoft’s full statement here.

Revamped Yahoo Messenger Adds Unsend Feature

In an effort to bring their venerable instant messaging service back into popularity, Yahoo has revealed a new version of their Yahoo Messenger app. This revamp brings a bevy of new features of the service, most notably introducing the ability for users to access up to a year’s worth of instant messaging conversations and delete any message they sent from the inbox of both users.

The ability to unsend instant messages is made possible with Yahoo’s shift to storing IM conversations in the cloud. This both allows new functionality such as the unsend, but also saves storage space on client devices, as embedded images and attachments will be links to private web resources instead of on device. In contrast to the delete ability, also included is the social-media-esque ‘like’ function, where in both 1:1 and group chats, it is possible to ‘like’ another user’s message or image.

The changes also take advantage of Tumblr’s image handling power (which is owned by Yahoo) in order to shift away from the emoji and towards the more traditional animated gif image, which could be experiencing a revival in recent times. As well as this, Messenger also integrates a smart contacts feature, similar to the one in Yahoo Mail, powered by Xobni’s platform which is able to understand the relationship between your contacts for ease of creation for groups. They even found time to add offline features, where any messages you send while offline or suffering poor connection will be sent once connectivity is resumed.

With all of these new features added to the classic messenger, will they see you going back to the service? Or do you already find all of your IM needs elsewhere now? Let is know in the comments which IM platforms you prefer and if you’re willing to go back to Yahoo now.

Google Photo Update Helps Save Space On Your Device

We all love taking pictures, first it was that camera you took around and wound up after every shot. These days though you either have that high-definition camera or if you are caught unprepared for the moment you use your mobile phone. The only problem with using your mobile phone to take all those life changing moments on camera is that you often store other things, such as your music or apps on there too. With so many things on your phone, Google Photo hopes to make keeping those memories slightly easier.

Stated in a post on Google+, Google Photos gets several new features in an update released today. First up is its ability to “Free Up Space” via a new button on the settings screen. This button starts to bulk-delete copies of photos, but don’t worry, it only does this to photos that have been backed up.

Users can now also downgrade their photos from “Original Quality” to “High Quality”,  a process which will create a smaller file by compressing your photo, this means you can store more photos, as long as you don’t want to view them in their full glory all the time.

How often do you find your space running out on your phone or tablet? Are these changes welcome additions or just options for those holidays pictures you might take next year?

Get Yourself Prepared for Black Friday 2015 with Amazon Prime

It’s that time of year again where retailers will stop at nothing to clinch that early Holiday season sale. In years gone by, Black Friday has been in the forefront of the news over the absolutely bonkers deals on or immediately after the last payday before December 25th; typically the last Friday in November.

This year we have heard that some UK retailers are actually pulling out of any Black Friday association due to the chaos it brought upon the outlets last year. This probably won’t stop them joining in with another event, retailer Argos has recently entered “Blue Friday“, with the tagline “It’s Black Friday Every Weekend”.

If you don’t fancy rambling out to the shops, Amazon has announced another repetitive, but outstanding £20 off Amazon Prime until Wednesday 18th November. This means you can enjoy that glass of wine while browsing the sales and knowing you will likely get the item the next day. As an added benefit, you will also have access Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Cloud drive meaning after you have bought your last gift you can settle down and watch the latest TV series or decorate that tree to uninterrupted Christmas songs.

For the fans of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, buying this now means you will have full access to the Amazon Exclusive show which will be streamed in 2016.

What are you waiting for? Some motivational music? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Microsoft Ends Unlimited OneDrive Storage Due to ‘User Abuse’

Microsoft’s cloud storage service has proved to be incredibly popular due to its unlimited data policy. However, reports from The Wall Street Journal suggest some users have taken advantage of the unlimited storage and forced Microsoft to cap the data to 1 Terabyte. Additionally, Microsoft decided to remove the 100GB and 200GB options and implement a basic 50GB tier for £1.99/$1.99 per month. On another note, the service’s free storage is now being cut from 15GB to 5GB.

Microsoft released a statement regarding the revised OneDrive policy and said:

“Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 [terabytes] per user or 14,000 times the average,”

Although, the rollout shouldn’t affect existing customers:

“If you are using more than 5 GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage.”

“Current customers of standalone OneDrive storage plans (such as a 100 or 200 GB plans) are not affected by these changes.”

This isn’t a surprising revelation as unlimited storage usually involves a fair usage policy. Microsoft’s was quite naive in offering truly uncapped storage and should have known how some users might behave. Although, I strongly believe if a company advertises unlimited storage, it shouldn’t restrict the amount of data allowed per month.

HGST Partnered with CommVault For Improved Cloud Backup Abilities

High capacity storage solutions often run into one problem and that is the backup. When you deal with petabytes of data where even the archives need to be accessible at all times and in a proper way, it takes both software and hardware to make that happen.

HGST, a part of Western Digital, has now partnered up with CommVault to enable simple scale out enterprise-class cloud backup and data management solutions. Commvault’s Simpana software now features native configuration and management support for the HGST Active Archive System to deliver a backup solution that solves data management at scale and provides instant access to data archives all at a price point that rivals traditional tape. Yes tape, those drives are currently still vital to most large storage backups.

HGST’s Active Archive System, as pictured above, is an extremely simple solution to deploy. All you need is network and power connections and it is good to go with up to 4.7PB raw storage. It is limitlessly scalable and provides the highest capacity per square foot at the same time as it delivers the lowest power consumption per terabyte of storage.

“HGST and Commvault have created a joint technology alliance for HGST and Commvault’s data management platform. HGST has become a fully qualified technology partner that has been validated, tested and supported by both parties,” said Don Foster, senior director, office of the CTO at Commvault. “Customers now have access to the HGST Active Archive System in conjunction with the data management intelligence that Commvault software provides to meet access, retention and archive management goals.”

“Our relationship with Commvault provides a new level of scale and protection, so our customers can better handle the demands of massive data growth, flat budgets and limited IT resources,” said Barbara Murphy, vice president of Marketing, Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, HGST. “In certifying our HGST Active Archive System with Commvault’s Simpana software suite, customers have access to a highly affordable, simple-to-scale object storage system that beats the economics of traditional cloud infrastructures and provides enterprise-class backup.”

While this isn’t something that the average user will ever have, it is surely something most of us will benefit from without even knowing. It will work its magic in the data centres around the world while serving you online features and functions you use every day.

Need to Get Your Remote Team Collaboration-Ready? Here are 11 Tools

Planning on joining one or maybe building one yourself? Knowing what it takes to make remote teams work is an invaluable asset. From the Clarity blog, Zapier.com and Fast Company, here are some ways you and everyone else on your team could keep in touch throughout the workday:

Blue Jeans

Offering cloud-based video solutions, Blue Jeans has a presence in many international markets, such as UK and Australia. The service is easily available and convenient to use. Because it’s cloud-based, you won’t have to worry about hardware upgrades or hiring IT guys. This will run on any smart phone device. You and your mates won’t have trouble figuring this one out.

Skype

It’s free. So if you and your team want to save up on costs, this is the way to go. Do video calls, voice or text chat with everyone without putting a dent on your company’s pockets. Group call feature lets you have up to 9 people in one call. Better features come with the subscription, like forwarding calls or calling phone directly. But if basic communication is what you had in mind, this one is gold.

Trello

Need an easy way to organize everything? Hand out tasks? Inform your team of a new project? This remains one of the best ones out there. It looks like an online version of a project board, making it easy for everyone on the team what their assignments are for the day. And yes, like many of the great collaboration tools out there, it’s free.

Google Hangouts

Connecting with this one is easy. All you have to do is sign up for a Gmail account and you basically get one. Like Skype, video calling allows for as many as 9 people in one call. However, if your team’s a bit bigger, you may want to look elsewhere. This one’s also free which is a major plus point for small teams that just need an easy way to stay connected.

Huddle

Share and manage files with ease. Keep records and collaborate on projects. Manage the daily task distribution. You can do all these with Huddle. The first 14 days are free. After that, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription.

Basecamp

Create projects, assign tasks, join threads and more. Staying in touch is easy with Basecamp’s features. Every person, project and file is accessible. However, only the first 45 days of the service is free. The next ones will set you back at least $20.

Google Docs

This is one of the best file sharing tools out there. You can organize your docs, spreadsheets, pdfs, epubs and more. Send or receive files without any trouble. The best thing about it is that you and your team can read and edit files in real time. Need to send out a proposal? You won’t have to keep 99 drafts of a single document on your desktop. Google Docs keeps a revision history so reviewing previous versions is easy. Best of all, it’s free.

Slack

Need a virtual office? This one works great. A Slack group chat room can accommodate the entire team. Make sure to explore the channels. However, too many of you in one channel could get too noisy. No worries though if that happens. Simply sectioning off rooms will solve the problem.

Asana

Create projects and send assignments to your team. The ticket history is on there as well so it’s easy to track where the projects are or if one fell through the cracks. Make sure everyone has a steady internet connection though. Also, too many people in one project could slow down Asana. The free version already works great but if you want to explore more options or want to add more of your team, going with the paid version is a great idea.

GoToMeeting

The thing about GoToMeeting is that it’s basic. If you want fashionable, hip and cool, you won’t find it here. But if you and your team of 10 need to do a video call, this one packs solid audio and video quality. If you want to video call 2-3 people, Skype works great. But if you’re 10, this option is better.

f.lux

Working remote often means you work with people on different time zones. That means people work late at night or early in the morning. With f.lux, you won’t have to worry about constantly adjusting your screen—and wasting minutes every day just to get the right tint back for nighttime or early morning work settings. The app adjusts the tint so your eyes can work without the glare.  

These are simply some of the apps and tools you and your team can use to work, stay connected and improve collaboration. You don’t need to use them all. Just make sure to explore your options to find which ones your team will go for.

Bit Defender Admits To Being Hacked

Oh the irony never fails to amuse, an Anti Virus company who boast on keeping customers safe from online threats, have themselves falling victim to a hack. Kaspersky discovered a bot within their system and now so has Bit Defender, who have admitted to being hacked.

Bit Defenders security policy will be under heavy criticism after the hacker going by the name of DetoxRansome, claims to have access to the Bit Defender customer information which allegedly includes passwords. The hacker also claims this information has been stored in an unencrypted format by the antivirus giant.

Bit Defender have responded and stated that a “potential security issue with a server and determined a single application was targeted within a component of its public cloud offering”  The company have also responded to the amount of data which might have been leaked by stating that, “exposure of a few user accounts and passwords is very limited and it represents less than one percent of our SMB customers”

There are reports that the hacker has demanded Bit Defender pay a ransom of $15,000, or see all the information dumped online. As noted by news sources, the hacker looks as if they have dumped around 250 customers usernames and passwords onto the web. Among the names were extensions belonging to .gov, which indicates government customers might have been affected.

The Hackers version is the following “We had taken control of two BitDefender cloud servers and got all logins. Yes, they were unencrypted, I can prove it… they were using Amazon Elastic Web cloud which is notorious for SSL [a form of web encryption] problems.”

The level of severity depends on which version you believe, either Bit Defender have only comprised a reported 1% of data or the whole lot. One thing looks apparent, for the love of god, why oh why did they not encrypt sensitive information, if a company offers cloud storage then this has to be secure, or as near as.

In a corporate world as consumers you receive corporate promises, looks excellent on the outside, dig deeper and your logins might be on the open web. Only time will tell to the extent with which Bit Defender have been compromised, let’s hope this is an alarm call to change practises when storing sensitive information online, or not as the case all too often is.

Original Bit Defender logo courtesy of dev0blog

Thank You Forbes for providing us with this information

D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router Review

Introduction


D-Link has a long history in the network business and I myself have personally had many of their devices in use over the years, so my expectations are high here. I have the pleasure to take the D-Link DIR-880L AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router for a spin in the test area and it will be interesting to see what the DIR-880L can perform.

Right off the top we have the best possible wireless connectivity with the concurrent dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz connectivity for a total speed of 1900Mbps, 600 Mbps from the 2.4GHz band and 1300 from the 5GHz band.

The Advanced AC SmartBeam technology vastly increases the speed and coverage of your network. This allows you to stream HD video, make Internet calls, and surf the Internet from every corner of your home without interruption. The high-gain external antennas should send the signal into the furthest corners of your home with a strong connection wherever you are., giving you a strong connection wherever you are.

The slower 2.4GHz band is still great for checking emails, surfing the web, or viewing photos, but you’ll want the faster 5GHz band when you game online, stream HD content, or transfer a lot of files.

The wired connections are all full Gigabit connections and that includes the WAN port. No need to worry that the router will throttle your internet speed even though it might be faster than 100Mbit, which isn’t that unusual these days.

The addition of two USB ports, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 allow you to connect storage devices directly to the router and share them with everyone on the network. It doesn’t matter where you are and what device you connect from, you’ll always have access to your files. This is a great solution for people that rely a lot on portable storage or those who don’t have a NAS. You could also use these ports to charge your mobile devices, a function I often use them for.

The DIR-880L Cloud Router is mydlink enabled, allowing you an effortless access and view of your network no matter where you are. See who is connected to your router, change the settings, block someone from accessing something just like you would at home.

The mydlink SharePort app allows you to connect a USB storage device to the DIR-880L and instantly share documents, movies, pictures, and music with mobile devices. Put your music library on a USB drive and share it with everyone else in your home, or show photos on the living room TV while a family member watches a movie on their tablet. Stream media files to multiple devices without interruption, or save them to your device for offline playback.

Whether you want the D-Link DIR-880L to stand or hang on the wall, that is your choice. It is built to support both and the bottom of the router features four rubber feet for a secure stand as well as cutouts to hang it on two screws.

You’ll also find all the other information such as default passwords, serial numbers, and MAC addresses on the bottom of the unit.

The three antennas can be turned and positioned to give you the best coverage in your own home and surroundings. There aren’t two places that are the same and having the perfect router location can make a lot of difference. Being able to angle the antennas as you like can help a lot with this.

Feature wise you won’t be disappointed in the DIR-880L, may you want VLAN support, firewall, time scheduled operation, parental control, virtual servers, or the aforementioned cloud features.

The dual-core CPU is hidden below the large cooler that I sadly couldn’t get removed. Not knowing just how it’s secured to the chips I rather left it instead of destroying it by the use of force.

On the PCB, we see that this product doesn’t come from anyone. It is very well built, clean, and all components have been properly seated before they were soldered. I have no doubt that this kind of work will last a long time and it is refreshing to see.

Within the package you find everything you need to get started. The router itself, an RJ45 cable so you can connect it to your modem, fiber box, or internet plug, three high-powered antennas, a power adapter and installation manuals to get started.

Toshiba Announced its Highest Capacity Enterprise Cloud HDD

Toshiba added a new drive to their already long list of available hard drives and this one is a large capacity drive intended for cloud storage. The Toshiba MC04 family got a new member and will soon be available as a 6TB version too.

Toshiba’s MC04 is a standard 3.5-inch form factor drive that delivers 7200 RPM while it still provides  a large storage capacity. Where most high-capacity drives run at a slower 5400 RPM speed, we’ve recently seen how much of a difference the extra RPM can make in our review section., enabling suitable service levels for high-performance cloud-based applications and storage.

This provides a more cost-effective high-speed storage solution and also has the power to decrease the overall running costs for the companies. The new drive not only provides 20 percent more storage than the previous 5TB model, it also does it at the same power consumption which will lower the overall costs.

It is rated for a workload of 180TB transferred per year and features SATA 2.0 interface speeds and Advanced Format sector. It is also still available as 2TB, 3TB, 4TB and 5TB versions.

“Today’s cloud-based infrastructures require cost-effective, increased storage capacity,” said Martin Larsson, vice president of Toshiba Electronics Europe, Storage Products Division. “With up to 6TB capacity and 7,200RPM performance, the Toshiba MC04 Series delivers an optimized balance of enterprise capacity, workload, and performance required by our customers’ high data growth cloud use-cases.”

The Toshiba MC04 6TB Enterprise Cloud HDD will be sampled to partners starting from August 2015.

Google Announces Cloud Source Repositories

Working on a project is difficult, working on a project with multiple people is difficult, working on a project with multiple people, in multiple locations and with multiple devices is difficult. What I’m saying is working on something is difficult, anyone that’s ever programmed can attest to this. People often use things like Github, Microsoft’s Azura cloud or Amazons web service to keep your work up to date, this means that if you (or a friend) made a change to your work everyone would have access to the newly created work without any difficulty.

Google is going to try become a part of this market, with the announcement of its latest service, Cloud Source Repositories. The service is currently in beta and hopes to become a go-to for group projects and people who enjoy coding. In its description Google has stated that it will have a private Git repository, which will not only integrate and work with a majority of the existing tools but will also feature a high level of encryption, making sure that your files are secure and for your eyes only. With access to the Google Cloud Platform, and later in the year a new API launcher and a new cloud debugger, the system looks to provide you with all the tools you take for granted while guaranteeing you access to Google’s knowledge and support for your projects.

Do you use a cloud repository for your work? If so would you be tempted to try out Google’s new service or are you happy with your current one?

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Google.

Google Container Engine Service now Publicly Available

Google just made some of its cloud computing software broadly available. Since there is more demand for services that let you work with applications packaged in containers, Google pushed its Container Engine from alpha into beta. Also, the Container Registry service that stores Docker container images has been made widely available.

Up until now, a lot of businesses relied on virtual machines to run a variety of applications. But times and tech are changing, so a better alternative to traditional virtual machines was bound to crop up sooner or later. This is why Google and other cloud storage providers are now interested in packaged apps running on cloud services.

The Google Container Engine is said to run on Kubernetes open-source container management software, having the ability to deploy containers on a variety of public could services. There have been a few major tweaks done since it was in alpha and now Google is only focusing on updating the Kubernetes code rather than the whole engine once new patches roll out. Also, debugging is said to be as easy as ticking a checkbox, so developers will be able to easily identify and fix issues that might occur.

In terms of pricing, Google offers its Cloud Engine for only $0.15 per hour for standard clusters with up to 100 virtual machines and managed uptime. The basic clusters will stay the same, but users will be able to have only up to 5 virtual machines and no managed uptime.

Thank you VentureBeat for providing us with this information

LastPass Cloud Database Hack Compromises Hashed Master Passwords

Unknown attackers have made off with LastPass account emails, password reminders and hashed user vault master passwords. CEO Joe Siegrist was quick to note that no encrypted user vault data, plaintext passwords or user accounts were accessed. This is the second security breach LastPass has faced in four years. Despite the compromise of the hashed passwords, there is no need to panic just yet.

As befitting a security firm, LastPass chose a more secure way of cryptographically hashing user master passwords. Instead of going with fast md5 or SHA1commonly used, LastPass used PBKDF2-SHA256 with a random salt and 100,000 rounds. With the addition of at least 5,000 more iterations client side, it will make it difficult to hack the hashes and obtain the password. As the encrypted users vaults were also not accessed, attackers will have to obtain that some other way as well.

LastPass is also ensuring users who are logging in from an unverified IP or device to verify via email unless they already have two-factor authentication. Given the above average security, there is no rush to change stored plaintext passwords or the master password just yet, but the earlier it can be done the better. With the difficulty of cracking a password, only those who are likely to be specifically targeted should worry.

Storing passwords anywhere is risky and even more so in the cloud as this attack demonstrated. However, user machines are already quite vulnerable and using a password manager is better than not. The stronger security offered by password manager for regular passwords is invaluable and with only 1 master password to remember, it can be more complex and longer. I know I will continue to use my cloud supported password manager but maybe I think I’ll rethink my plans to store my banking credentials. You can find the LastPass blog post on the incident here.

UK Government Moves from Microsoft

Microsoft has dominated the business market for some time now. This is the case here in the UK, where most if not all government departments use Microsoft’s products in favour of everything else, but that’s about to change according to recent statements from officials.

Her Majesty’s Revenue or Customs, or more commonly known as HMRC, decided to switch from Microsoft products to what Google now has to offer. The change will take place due to the fact that Google has more power over cloud service and it looks like that’s what HMRC needs. This also marks a turning point in business solutions, having HMRC be the first major UK government department to break away from Microsoft services in favour of another competitor.

It is said that the switch will affect over 70,000 employees, who will join another 2,500 Cabinet Office users already on Gmail accounts. Still, there are over 450,000 government employees using Microsoft products, so we won’t see the majority of departments dropping Microsoft’s products overnight. But this does prove that Microsoft is declining in strength over corporate business solutions.

In terms of security, UK government officials seem to trust Google’s own security and ability to keep sensitive information safe on its data centres, but is this a good thing? They seem to think so. However, they should also take into account that mixing cloud storage with sensitive information may not seem a good mix, especially when your tax information is in the middle of it. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Robson Scott Associates