Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The iPad Comes Under Fire?

Since its release back in April of last year, the iPad has enjoyed a virtual stranglehold on the tablet computer market. Many would-be rivals have attempted to at least jostle the popular Apple-made device, nestled atop its perch. Thus far none have succeeded. The iPad has performed like a team on a winning streak that's carried over from last season, selling some 29 million units all in total. However as has been anticipated, Amazon has unveiled what analysts predict could be the iPads biggest competitor.

Enter the Kindle Fire.

While it had been predicted that the Kindle tablet would be available for cheap, previous estimations had it in the range of $250-300 dollars. However at the unveiling in New York on Wednesday, the Kindle Fire was introduced for the astronomically low price of $199, some three hundred dollars below even the most stock iPads and a whopping seven hundred bucks below the most tricked out models.

In addition to its attractive price, industry watchers say what will most appeal to consumers about the Kindle is the amount of filmed, literary and musical content users will be able to readily access through Amazon. But make no mistake, the Fire is far more than just a Kindle Reader with email. It's a fully-functional tablet computer that runs on the Android operating system and can do much of what an early model iPad is capable of. Not only that, but with it's seven inch screen, it's also half the size of the iPad.

However unlike many tablets nowadays, the Fire has no camera or microphone. Nor does it come equipped with a memory expansion slot. The Fire is capable of connecting to WiFi networks but not cellular networks unlike some iPads and many other Android tablets.

But one area in which the Fire will arguably be superior to the iPad is in its ability to read Flash. The iPads incompatibility with Flash has been one of the main criticisms leveled against the multimillion selling tablet.

So can the Kindle Fire really give the iPad a run for its money? Yes and no. Speaking to Associated Press, Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, considers the Fire the only credible competitor to the iPad.

Of course, in the same AP article, it was reported that analysts at Gartner Inc. predict that three out of four tablet computers sold this year would be iPads. So perhaps words like "credible" and "competitor" are all relative when it comes to the Apple iPad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cyber-Security Goes Mobile

Computer security giant McAfee have launched a new service application that will provide a blanket net of security that can be cast over all of your computers, tablets and mobile devices. McAfee All Access has been engineered as a "single solution," that protects both Macs and PCs as well as smartphones, laptops and tablet computers, otherwise known as . . . iPads.

All Access offers users a coordinated security apparatus that can be specifically configured to protect any array of devices a typical user may reasonably own. All Access is available at $99.00 for individual use and $149.00 for a family sized package.

McAfee of course also issued the results of a global study this week, because. . . well, that's kind of what they do. That report noted that the average valuation of an average person's digital assets, including photos and music libraries is $37,438. So I guess the implied message is that with almost 40 grand's worth of media on your devices, $99 bucks a month is money well spent.

But it's true that hackers are now looking into smartphones and tablets as a potential growth market for the new year. With many households fielding an array of devices that contains both Macs and PCs, an all-inclusive program like All Access potentially represents one of the best security options available in the increasingly perilous cyber climate we live in.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazon Mounts a Challenge to iPad's Dominance with Kindle Tablet

Many have tried, but none have succeeded in their efforts to gain ground on the Apple iPad in the tablet computer market. Since it's release in April of 2010, the iPad has sold some 29 million units worldwide and taken up residence at the top of the tablet computer market like Manchester United in an English Premier League standings table.

This is not to say there haven't been at least somewhat reasonable alternatives to emerge in the eighteen months since the iPad's release. Sure there's been the Samsung Galaxy, the Motorola Xoom and the HP TouchPad. All of which are perfectly adequate tablets that can do most of what the iPad can do and in some cases, more. However thus far, no tablet has succeeded in capturing the imagination (and the money) of the tablet buying public like the iPad.

Until now that is maybe, at least according to analysts.

According to a report from Reuters, Amazon is making ready to release the Kindle Fire Tablet, which will be an affordably priced alternative to the iPad that insiders are predicting will resonate with consumers. Writing the for the blog TechCrunch, MG Siegler revealed that the Fire will be a seven inch backlit tablet that will resemble the Blackberry PlayBook, run on Android and feature a touch screen.

However there is one feature in particular that analysts think will enable the Fire to heat things up for the iPad in the tablet market: it's price.

Currently rumors are floating that the device will be available for between $250 and $300 dollars, which either way, makes it a couple hundred dollars less than even the cheapest iPads.

In addition to it's competitive price, analysts estimate that users will also be drawn like moths to the Kindle's Flame due to the enormous amount of movie, television and music media services available from Amazon. Part of the alleged angle on Amazon making the Fire available for so little, is the company's ability to be able to recoup on cloud and content services marketed to Fire users.

Of course as of now, it's anybody's guess what the outcome will be of Kindle entering the tablet market. The Samsung Galaxy is selling poorly and HP just announced that they would be discontinuing their tablet. So whether the Fire will actually succeed in turning up the heat on Apple or wind up as just another also-ran, struggling in the middle part of the tablet table, only time will tell.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Heidi Klum Dangerous?

Heidi Klum dangerous? That may not come as big news to the legions of fledgling fashionistas who've been dispatched by the German model's icy "Auf wiedersehen," but the Klum threat apparently runs deeper than that.

Computer security giant, McAfee has issued it's annual report on the most dangerous celebs to search for online and Mrs. Seal (Klum is wed to the English soul singer) has topped the list, edging out last year's number one, Cameron Diaz. Other celebs to have broken into the upper half of McAfee's table include Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Mila Kunis, Katherine Heigl and rather unexpectedly, Piers Morgan.

It's common practice for hackers to imbed attack commands and other forms of malicious software into photos,videos and other forms of content. Dangling the suggestion of racy photos of someone like Klum or Diaz (Piers Morgan perhaps?) is intended to titillate Web users into downloading the software.

Once the scantily clad pics of Heidi, Brad or Piers hit your hard drive, the fun really begins as the Trojans emerge and hackers take control of your machine gaining access to passwords, personal information and financial records or using your computer as part of a denial-of-service attack.

According to McAfee if you Google search Heidi Klum and use qualifiers like "hot pictures," or "racy screen savers," there is a one in ten chance that you'll come across content that is spiked with malware.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hackers May Target Cars Next

Computer security firm McAfee has issued a report warning that as cars become ever more embedded with digital technology, they are veering into dangerous territory and could be susceptible to hacking.

While cybercrime up until this point has largely been a matter of having your privacy invaded or a financial liability, were hackers to start targeting cars, there would be a potential risk to the personal safety of drivers. In McAfee's report, the firm warned that as cars become more sophisticated in regard to digital technology, security is lagging behind.

Cybercrime in general has been on the rise this year and a recent report by security firm Norton estimates that cybercrimes cost victims some $114 billion dollars last year.

Were hackers to successfully target cars, they could potentially track vehicle movements, interfere with navigation systems or disable vehicles remotely. As McAfee senior vice president Stuart McClure put it, "It's one thing to have your email or laptop compromised, but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety."

Hacking into cars would represent a bold move into new territory for hackers who this week demonstrated that nothing is sacred when they hacked into NBC's Twitter feed on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and posted a false story about an attack on the ground zero site.

George Doll, senior director for automotive solutions at Wind River, put it succinctly when he said, "As the trend for ubiquitous connectivity grows, so does the potential for security vulnerabilities."

Although, on a more positive note, Doll also stated that many members of the automotive industry are already working to design security solutions in response to the threat.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tennis Player Experiences Buffering Problems

Wow. . . awkward. That's certainly how watching the video of tennis player Rafael Nadal experiencing severe cramps during a post game press conference at the U.S. Open made me feel.

Nadal had just defeated David Nalbandian in straight sets and was getting ready to field questions from reporters when he began to grimace in agony and slowly slid himself lower into his chair before eventually calling for the physio.

Watching the video reminded me of the rooftop party I went to last night where we were trying to watch cool music videos from YouTube projected onto a screen. But like the tennis player in front of the microphone, the YouTube music videos of Meatloaf, Mud and the Runaways kept seizing up and freezing. It may not have been as bad as severe post match leg cramps, but believe me, it was still kind of agonizing.

Here's a good one we were never quite able to watch due to severe buffering problems:

Luckily Nadal recovered well enough to continue his press conference ten minutes later. Provided he can sort out his problems with cramps and blisters, Nadal remains a heavy favorite to win the U.S. Open.

We weren't so lucky up on the rooftop. With a late summer storm in the air and lightning flashes in the distance, we eventually abandoned anything that required an Internet connection and went old school by watching the Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker classic, Airplane on DVD.

It was as if, the fog was getting thicker, and Leon was getting laaarrrggger.