The Tech News Blog

April 14, 2014

Analyst: iPhone 6 May Get $100 Price Hike

iPhone Air Concept

Bad news, iPhone users. Apple's next-generation smartphone might be getting a price bump, according to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek.

"Our checks indicate Apple has started negotiating with carriers on a $100 iPhone 6 price increase," Misek wrote in a note to investors Monday morning. "The initial response has been no, but there seems to be an admission that there is no other game-changing device this year."

Apple may be able to eke out at least some of the increase, with additional costs split between carriers and consumers. "Carriers realize that the iPhone 6 will likely be the only headline-worthy high-end phone launched this year and that they will lose [subscribers] if they do not offer it," Misek said.

As for the likelihood of this coming to pass, we'll just have to wait and see. Misek has a spotty track record with Apple rumors, so take his new predictions with a grain of salt. He's been right about a few things, like predicting the name of the iPhone 4s when others called it the iPhone 5, but has made some bad calls as well, especially regarding a fabled Apple HDTV set.

April 13, 2014

Twopcharts: 44% of Twitter’s 947 Million Accounts Haven’t Tweeted Once

100 Twitterers-3

Twitter has a ton of users, right? Around 974 million, to be a bit more precise. However, just because a person has taken the time to make a Twitter account doesn't necessarily mean they've used it. And according to the latest stats from Twopcharts, a third-party site that monitors Twitter activity, a surprisingly high number of people have done just that: Made an account and abandoned Twitter forever.

Just how many? According to the site, approximately 44 percent of Twitter's 947 million accounts or so have never sent a single tweet. Of the number that have — approximately 550 million — just under half of these accounts are reported to have sent their last tweet more than one year ago (43%). Only 126 million have sent any kind of tweet at any point in the past 30 days.

Twitter is, of course, saying nothing about Twopcharts' data, commenting that the company doesn't talk about third-party data related to its service. Twitter representatives are fairly famous for not discussing this "dark pool" count – the number of inactive accounts that exist on the service, which includes those who have never doneanything as well as those who came, tried Twitter out, and left some time ago.

April 13, 2014

Microsoft’s ‘WIMBoot’ Technique Spares Precious Storage on Windows 8 Devices

Surface 2 Alt

WIMBoot. It sounds a bit like something you'd want to purchase before going on a cross-country hike in the snow. In actuality, it's a new technological technique from Microsoft that arrived as a part of the big Windows 8.1 update this past Wednesday, and it should free up a bit more space on Windows 8 certified devices than your typical operating system installation would otherwise take up.

The catch? Said devices will want to be running speedier flash-based storage — like a 32GB SSD, for example — since the WIMBoot technology will impact performance to an undisclosed degree. And, honestly, WIMBoot is the kind of setup you'll want to run on these speedier, smaller-capacity devices; it wouldn't make much sense for a 500-gigabyte hard drive.

So how, then, does WIMBoot work? In short, it's a tweak on the conventional means of installing Windows on a device. Instead of unpacking all of the core Windows files from an installation package and dumping them on a partition — which could eat up around nine gigabytes of space on a typical installation (sans recovery image) — the WIMBoot technique dumps this compressed "WIM" file into its own separate "Images" partition. Windows then creates pointer files within what looks like a conventional Windows installation that actually reference the WIM file on the separate partition.

April 13, 2014

Dell, Microsoft, Best Buy Offer XP Trade-In Discounts

Dell Inspiron 3000-series

If you need to upgrade from Windows XP, but don't want to jump to Windows 8 just yet, Dell has a deal on a Windows 7 desktop.

As part of an Easter Sale, Dell is offering the Inspiron 3000-series with Windows 7 pre-installed for $599.99, after $150 on-site instant savings. Add coupon code HDB?TLKS7SXTMM to get another $50 off for a final price of $549.99 and a total of $200 (27 percent) in savings.

This Inspiron 3000-series sports a fourth-generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive with two memory slots. The minitower desktop comes pre-installed with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium and MY Dell, a support tool that continually provides valuable information about the PC. Other features include an Intel HD integrated graphics card, tray load DVD drive, and an integrated 8-in-1 media card reader.

April 10, 2014

Google Glass Sales Going Public, But Act Fast

Prescription Google Glass

Have you been waiting anxiously to get your hands on Google Glass? Starting next Tuesday, the high-tech specs could be yours.

Beginning at 6 a.m. PT on Tuesday, April 15, any U.S.-based adult will have the chance to purchase Google Glass for $1,500. "The number of spots available is limited, so mark your calendar if you want to get in," the Glass team wrote in a Google+ post.

Initially, Google Glass was only available to those who attended the 2012 Google I/O conference and ponied up $1,500 for the device. The search giant then ran a contest on social media, which asked potential Glass Explorers what they'd do with Glass, and awarded invites to those with creative responses. More recently, Google allowed existing Explorers to invite friends to buy the specs.

"But every day we get requests from those of you who haven't found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too," Google said today. "So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we're trying something new."

Interested buyers can sign up for a reminder ahead of Tuesday's sale. International buyers will have to keep waiting; "We're just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries," Google said.

April 10, 2014

PC Shipments Down, But Better Than Expected

How to Buy a Desktop

Worldwide PC shipments are down in the first quarter of the year, but the dip was not as severe as previous declines, according to new data.

The change, analysts said, is likely a result of the recent end-of-life cutoff date for Windows XP, which has helped fuel PC growth in an otherwise weak market overall. When looking at just U.S. vendor shipments, the PC market is actually on a bit of an uptick compared to last year's sales.

Of course, it depends who you ask. Analyst firms Gartner and IDC agreed that worldwide PC shipments are on less of a decline than usual, and both noted that the end Windows XP support helped fuel some of the gains.

But IDC also called out a slowing demand for tablets that helped "constrain previously drastic cutbacks in notebooks," but highlighted the fact that emerging regions — like Latin America and Asia/Pacific (sans Japan) — are still seeing tablet PC sales cut into PC territory.

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April 9, 2014

Glitch Halts Windows 8.1 Update Rollout for Some Biz Users

8 Things You Need to Know About Windows 8.1 Update

Oops: Microsoft was forced to halt the rollout of Windows 8.1 Update to some business users after it discovered that the new version of the OS stopped stop scanning against Windows Server Update Service.

Redmond intends to issue an update "as soon as possible," it said in a post on the WSUS Product Team Blog.

"You may still obtain the Windows 8.1 Update (KB 2919355) from the Windows Update Catalog or MSDN," Microsoft said. "However, we recommend that you suspend deployment of this update in your organization until we release the update that resolves this issue."

April 9, 2014

Heartbleed Bug: Should You Panic?

Heartbleed Bug

Heartbleed, a bug within OpenSSL, is making headlines this week, and while it might seem like a rather technical issue, it has some real-world ramifications that could impact the online services you use every day. Even worse, there's really no way to tell what malicious activity has occurred thanks to Heartbleed.

Heartbleed is a vulnerability in the open-source encryption standard OpenSSL. It's so named because it affects heartbeat, which is a way to ensure that there is communication between each end of a connection. Heartbleed mimics a heartbeat, allowing it to intercept data.

No matter how secure you think your information is, it's not. The same goes for passwords, even if they're 16 characters long and filled with a nonsensical mix of symbols and numbers. Malware analyst Mark Loman demonstrated that some Yahoo Mail passwords are easily viewed in plain text as result of Heartbleed.

April 8, 2014

Amazon Tops Hulu, Apple; Still Behind Netflix, YouTube

Amazon Instant Video iPad App

Amazon now streams more video than Hulu and Apple, but is still lagging behind rivals Netflix and YouTube, according to new data from online video delivery firm Qwilt.

Over the last 12 months, user consumption of Amazon Prime Instant Video content increased 94 percent, allowing the company to move from fifth to third place in the streaming video space.

The news comes after Amazon last week introduced Fire TV, a streaming media hub that will compete with the Roku, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast. Fire TV is essentially a small box that plugs into your HDTV and offers streaming access to Prime Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, and Showtime, among others.

"In some U.S. operator networks, between March 2013 and March 2014, Amazon's streaming video traffic increase was nearly 300 percent," Qwilt wrote in a blog post. "And all this growth happened before they announced Amazon Fire TV."

In a statement, Amazon's vice president of Digital Video and Music, Bill Carr, said the company has invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" to build up its Prime Instant Video catalog of TV shows and movies. Amazon just last week greenlit six new original series, re-upped the comedy Alphas for another season, and nabbed all 192 episodes of the series 24.

April 8, 2014

Microsoft Issues Final XP, Office 2003 Updates for Patch Tuesday

Microsoft Patch Tuesday

Microsoft released four security updates fixing 11 vulnerabilities in Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Publisher as part of its April Patch Tuesday release. The security bulletins for Windows XP and Office 2003 are the last publicly-released patches for these two products, as Microsoft ended support today.

Seven of the vulnerabilities affect Windows XP, and four affect Office 2003. "This is an important Patch Tuesday for users who rely on the outdated platforms and applications that move to self-support this month," said Russ Ernst, director of product management at Lumension.

The top bulletin addresses three vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word (MS14-017), including the recently discovered zero-day vulnerability in the RTF (Rich Text Format) parser. If an attacker successfully tricks the user into opening a malicious RTF document in an unpatched version of Microsoft Word, the attacker can remotely execute code on the system. The other two vulnerabilities are flaws with the Word 2007 and 2010 File Format Conversion Utility and a stack overflow bug in Word 2003.