Thursday, March 31, 2011

iPhone 4 Unlock for ALL Basebands Announced!

*April Fool's Day Prank* FINALLY!!!!  In a surprise announcement, the iPhone Dev Team announced that they finally have a stable, working unlock for the iPhone 4 that is baseband independent.  This will also work on the iPhone 3GS. (Baseband 3.10.1 and up)

After months of unstable trials and failed attempts, they stumbled upon an unlock exploit that works regardless of baseband version or firmware version.

The Dev Team has released a unified unlock tool for all iPhone versions and until Apple patches the hole, it should work on future updates as well.  It takes advantage of a coding error in the Apple Activation Server, rather than the phone itself.  Although the actual process is being kept a secret, the basic idea is that the unlock acts as a proxy between the phone and the server.  The unlock gathers activation info from the server, then activates the phone.  And in an ironic coincidence, this also unlocks the App Store allowing authentic paid apps to be downloaded for free.  Similar to the Gevey SIM in the process, but no user intervention (other than clicking UNLOCK) is needed.

This is a completely untethered unlock.

Download the unlock tool here.

Please share this news with those who you think would appreciate it before the exploit is patched!

*Update, this was meant as an April Fool's Day prank (and it worked) Since it is no longer April 1, I added a warning at the beginning of the post*

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hi, My Name Is Earl... I mean, URL

Today's Tech Gospel is on URL security. URL, or Uniform Resource Locator (aka website address) is what you usually type in your browser to visit a website.  Now, recently there have been a whole crop of new viruses on Facebook.  Most ask you to click on them to see some 'scandal video'.  These do not infect your computer.  They infect your Facebook account and can gather your personal information.

When you see a link on Facebook, or any website for that matter, place your mouse over the link.  On the bottom part of your browser, there is usually a status bar that will show you the URL of the link.  Sometimes, you can tell right away if this is a scam link or a legit one.

An article that says "Youtube video of ______ scandal.  Click here" ... if it is a legit link, the status bar at the bottom of your browser SHOULD start with "".  Try not to click on links that have addresses from unknown sites, or sites that don't look official.

Fake URLs (aka phishing sites) can pose as bank login pages, email login pages, shopping sites, credit card forms, etc... anything that will allow a site to collect information from you.  These LOOK like the real websites of banks, social networking sites, email login sites...but are hosted on another site.  Be aware of the address on the top and bottom of your browser.  Make sure it has the address of the site you think you're visiting or viewing before entering any sensitive information, or even clicking on links.

Although not 100% secure, it's always a good idea to Google a questionable link first to see if there are any reports of a new virus or hack that's been going around.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

App Stores Everywhere

If iTunes Store, Android Marketplace, and RIM AppWorld wasn't enough, is now entering the mobile applications market with their own Appstore.  Initially for Android users in the US, this will be in direct competition with Android's own Marketplace.

Seeing as how everyone is making an app these days, there seems to be no shortage of places to sell them in as well.  Although, if Amazon's Appstore can't sell to countries that Android's Marketplace doesn't sell to either, I don't really see the point.  Hopefully paid apps will be available on Amazon's Appstore faster than Android's own Marketplace in restricted countries like the Philippines.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Secure Your Facebook

On the topic of online security, Facebook is one site that has an enormous amount of personal information. A lot of Facebook accounts have been hacked lately, including Mark Zuckerberg's personal page.  Most of the time, these can be avoided by using Facebook's new security feature:

Simply go to your Account, then click on Account Settings

Expand the Account Security section, check the box that says Secure Browsing (HTTPS).

Save your settings.  And you're all done.  Unfortunately, some apps, like Networked Blogs, do not support HTTPS yet so you'll have to repeat this procedure every time you use an app that disabled this security setting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Encrypted Google

Online privacy is a serious concern.  So much of our lives and information is already floating around the cloud, most of which we have no control, or knowledge of.  One of the more recent developments in the personal security is the vulnerability of our information when we're on a WiFi network.

Google is now testing a new secure search engine.  This means that all your searches are secure from prying eyes.  It's called Encrypted Google and it's using SSL.

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a security measure that protects all the data that's transmitted between you and the website you're visiting.  When we surf the internet, it is possible for others to view the webpages we've visited, and even get our passwords since the information that's transmitted between your laptop and a website are not hidden or scrambled.

Any site that deals with sensitive information should be running SSL, you'll know this because of the HTTPS (instead of the usual HTTP) tag on the top part of your browser.  Somewhere on the browser, there is usually a little padlock icon to inform you that you are now browsing over a secure connection.  Look for the HTTPS indicator on your browser.  This is extremely critical, specially when giving out your credit card, or other types of sensitive information.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Xperia Mini 2 Rumored Pics

Supposedly the next gen for the Xperia Mini.  Rumored to have a 3" screen.  I'm still hoping they keep the 2.5" screen.  Something about the phone having the height and width of a credit card appeals to me.

Other rumored specs are a 1 GHz CPU and dedicated GPU (I doubt the GPU but hey, I won't mind if they put one in) and Android Gingerbread.

*Original pics and posts on Chinese Blog SEIT168

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flash News! Flash 10.2 for Android!

For everyone running FroYo, Flash 10.2 will be available later this week, and will play Flash content in a separate window.  And for the lucky ones on Honeycomb, Flash will play content embedding in the webpage itself!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Duck And Cover: The Japan Nuclear Crisis

There has been a lot of bogus SMS and Twitter news going around here in the Philippines regarding the dangers of a possible meltdown of the nuclear plants in Japan.  Thankfully someone in Japan decided to give the facts about the ongoing crisis.

The original post was by Dr Josef Oehmen at morgsatlarge.  The post has been edited and moved over to MIT's Nuclear Science and Engineering site for the latest updates and verification on the ongoing efforts to prevent a meltdown.  Thank you Dr Josef Oehmen, and to everyone at the MIT NSE dept.

Here's a link to the edited post:

I think one of the most ridiculous messages being passed around is the "Betadine" precaution.  That's about as effective as putting a hanky on your head while running a storm... or in this case: Duck and Cover.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fresh Fruit : A 2011 Apple Macbook Pro Overview

Fresh out of the Apple farms comes the new line of Macbook Pros running the i5 and i7 chips with Thunderbolt. I'm not going to compare new Apples to old ones. That's a bit pointless. But I will give a general overview of the advantages of the i5/i7 chips over the Core 2 Duos, aside from performance.

First up, temperature. The new i5/i7 chips run cooler, so your laptop generates far less leg-warming heat. This will, in practice, allow far more stable performance from your laptop in the field...away from the normal office airconditioning.

Next up, is Thunderbolt.  The fastest interface for external devices yet.  I'm glad that the new MBP still has Firewire 800 in it for legacy devices, but disappointed that USB 3.0 is nowhere to be found.  Not a biggie, since I still prefer FW800 over USB3.  Having FW and TB will allow better device management for professional applications such as audio recording and video editing.

Lastly, battery life.  Although the older Core 2 Duos boasted similar battery life, the i5/i7 have way better power management.  A solid 7 hours on wifi with multiple tabs and YouTube videos streaming in, it stretches to a little over 10 hours with very light surfing or offline work.  Will give a Photoshop/FinalCut battery review next week.

Pwn2Own 2011 : Blackberry 9800 and iOS Hacked

Pwn2own, an annual hacking contest conducted by TippingPoint as a challenge to hack into their newest systems.

Results for 2011 are in and the Blackberry 9800 and iOS 4.2.1 and the new 4.3 fell to hacking exploits via their respective browsers.

What this means is that a hacker can gain access to your address book if you simply visit a website (made by the hacker) designed to take advantage of the vulnerabilities found on the Blackberry 9800 and all iOS 4.2.1 and 4.3 devices.

Vulnerability reports are then given to their respective manufacturers that can use the information to patch and fix glitches in their security.

Although Windows Phone and Android devices were not compromised, it was only by disqualification as the teams that were supposed to hack them never showed up.

Android Warning!!! Fake Security Update!!!

Symantic Employee Mario Ballano blogged about a suspicious piece of code found floating in a modified version of Google's Security update.  Following Google's deletion of a few malicious apps found in their Marketplace, a security patch was issued to all affected users.

Be careful and only install the official Google Security patch.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time To Update! iOS 4.3 Is Now Out

Hot on the heels of the iPad 2 announcement, comes the much awaited iOS 4.3 update.  Promising faster internet, the ability to stream content from your iOS device to your TV via Apple TV, stream content from iTunes to your iOS device, personal WiFi Hotspot (this is a big one for iPhone users), and the option to make the side switch go back to being an orientation lock (why they removed this in the first place is beyond me)

So plug in your iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod Touch and get the 600MB update!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gimme A Hand

Been reading up on the latest bionic/prosthetic tech available today.  Aside from Össur's Power Knee, another company, BeBionic has the coolest bionic hand.

There are various battery, skin, and interface options.  It's controlled by your body's electrical impulses so, essentially it works like your regular hand.  Very Star Wars.

I Coulda Gone Pro If It Wasn't For My Bum Knee

Össur, a company that specializes in artificial limbs, has one of the most advanced artificial knees available (availability might be a stretch, since they are not readily available)

The next generation Power Knee is on of the most advanced above-knee prosthetics today.  Adaptive technology allows the knee to adjust to the users actions and provides powered motion for walking and provides necessary power on inclines and stairs.

The technology built into the knee itself seems to be self contained.  A bunch of sensors and processors calculate what the user is doing and lets the knee adapt.  It doesn't seem to take instructions from nerve endings or synaptic activity, but is still impressive nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kinetic Sculpture: Theo Jansen's Strandbeests

Theo Jansen from Holland, has cool sculptures that move autonomously. The precision and ingenuity of his creations are just amazing.

I wonder if these can be modified to become a mode of transportation...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mixing It Up: A Mackie 402-VLZ3 Review

Are you a solo musician?  Podcaster?  Ever wanted to just make a simple recording at home?  Sometimes expensive interfaces and large mixing boards don't really make things easier.  Enter Mackie's 402-VLZ3 micro mixer.

There are quite a few direct-to-USB mic adapters and USB Podcast kits available if you just need one mic. But what if you want to record in stereo?  Or just need a simple, but high quality mixer for a couple of mics during a live gig?  And maybe have an iPod as a backing track?  A lot of micro mixers just come with one microphone input...and a whole lot of line-in/stereo ins.

Mackie has offered a very different solution.  A micro mixer with 2 high quality XDR pre-amps, and 2 (if you count the Rec-In) pairs of stereo inputs.

This is great for home studio recordings, live solo gigs, or basic podcasting needs.

The 402 is part of Mackie's VLZ line which means that it comes with their higher-end XDR preamps.  These sound fuller and quieter than the ones found on their CFX boards.

It doesn't have pan-controls for the mics however, they're either center/mono, or a full left-right split.  Depending on your needs, this may or may not be a deal-breaker.  There are no mid-eq controls either, but the mic ins do come with a high-pass (lo-cut) filter, as well as built-in DI switches on both mic inputs for instrument connectivity.

It's a great little mixer, and you'd be hard pressed to find anything that can match it in terms of flexibility, price, quality, durability, and size.  It would be a great addition to any music production setup, whether it be as an on-stage monitor control, home studio mixer, or just to add 2 more preamps to an existing board.  If only they could've made it battery powered like the Peavey RQ200... this would've been a killer mobile rig as well.

**Hallo, ich lerne Deutsch und ich kann ein paar Fragen zu beantworten.
Je parle un peu français aussi. Je peux répondre à des questions sur mes messages.**

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gulp...gulp....gulp: A CamelBak Review

Do you like running?  Hiking?  Biking?  Or any kind of outdoor activity that lasts more than an hour away from fresh drinking water?  You may want to invest in a good hydration pack.

My hydration pack of choice is the CamelBak Pakteen. Why invest in a hydration bladder?  Why not just recycle your bottled water bottle?

First of all, the material is different.  They may both be plastic, but disposable water bottles are not made from the same high grade plastic used for hydration packs and reusable water bottles.  Most disposable water bottles contain toxic materials that leak into your water.  Although deemed 'insignificant amounts' by the FDA, I'd rather not risk it.

Second, hydration packs save space.  They store flat when empty and conform to your body when filled.

And third, hydration packs usually have drinking tubes that make it more accessible than a water bottle.

What I like about the Pakteen is that even the drinking tube is insulated.  In the summer, this means that first sip isn't hot water!  It's also just a hydration pack, not a backpack.  That means I can throw it into any bag I'm bringing.  The quick release connector, bite valve cover and flow control also make it more rugged and dirt free when using it in the beach or hiking.

Although it's one of the smallest hydration packs out there, holding only 1.5L (50 oz) of water, it's more than enough for a day hike or an average run.  Find out more about proper hydration here.

**Unfortunately, the Pakteen is not available here in the Philippines.  I already asked Camelbak if they have it here, and I think it's not allowed for sale outside the U.S.

The irony...

A Little Tech Art: Art In The Park 2011

A break from all the iPad 2 hype and tech reviews...
I went to the 2011 Art In The Park exhibit last February

came across some really funky tech-based artwork by artist Tara Soriano.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's That Time Of The Month: iPad2, For Lighter Days

Now that Apple has announced the new iPad 2, everyone is on the fence on whether or not it lives up to it's original sibling.  Yes and no.  An Apple representative casually mentioned that the iPad 2 is just a minor update to the original iPad, and that the iPad 3 will be the real upgrade.

But is the iPad 2 worth getting?  Yes it is.  Considering there is no price increase from the original iPad, that alone is a great deal.  And for those that don't need FaceTime, or the fancy new magnetic smart cover, the original iPad is now $399 brand new from Apple.

Other updates include a slimmer and lighter profile, although I'm really not fond of the new back design...I don't like it on my iPod Touch 4G, and I don't like it on the iPad.  Does it really matter?  From a design preference, to me, yes.  Now, the new iPad 2 I'd get for it's features alone, not the design.  But considering that it is still the best looking tablet out there, still says a lot for it.  Seeing as how technology is evolving, we may soon just be buying a transparent piece of glass with a little logo on the corner anyway.  And since most people buy a case for their iPad anyway, the back design is an extremely minor gripe, and a personal one at that.

I would've opted for the same design as the original iPad with a 20 hour battery instead.  But that's just me.  I feel that the slight weight reduction isn't enough to be that big a deal, but a 20-hour charge is significant on a long haul flight or weekend getaway.  Again, this is just my take on the new design.

Reasons to buy the new iPad 2:

  • FaceTime
  • HD Video recording
  • Updated processor (although since no apps maximize this, real world improvements will be incremental at best)
  • Smart Cover
  • HDMI output (via optional dongle)
  • and of course... it comes in WHITE. (For some, this alone is worth the update...hehehe)

Reasons to buy the original iPad:

  • $100 cheaper
  • Still comparable to the iPad 2 in terms of functionality and practicality
  • Milled aluminum design (This is only my personal preference in design, and I still say it's the best look iOS device ever.  I wish they patterned all the other iOS devices after the original iPad)

The screen on both the iPad and iPad 2 are the same, so no Retina upgrade there.  For photographers and videographers, either one will serve your purposes just fine, although editing on the new iPad 2 with the updated iMovie app will be faster.

If you're on the market for an iPad, now is the best time to choose.  For the same amount of money, you get the newer one... and if you aren't really keen on the added features, you can have the original iPad for $100 less.

For those with the original iPad, is it worth the update?  Well, that would depend on the health of your gadget budget.  I'm skipping this update to get the new MacBook Pro instead.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wake Up! Some Coffee Tech

Just wanted to show the cool origami packaging from Starbucks Japan.

Simply open the pack and pull the tabs apart, and it forms a coffee filter holder over your cup. Pour hot water and enjoy.

And if you like the smell of coffee, you can also just leave the used filter in a corner of your room (I left mine in my kitchen) to make your place smell like a café. Hehehehe!

A little coffee tech, only from Japan.

Splish-splash: A DesignGo case review

Summer is here, and that means beach trips are coming up.  But what about your music player or smartphone?  If you've got an Android, iPod Touch, or iPhone, you may want to invest in a waterproof pouch.

There are a lot of pouches out there that offer protection, but I like DesignGO for the price that they offer.  At P500 (or approx US$12) at R.O.X. in Fort Bonifacio, it's as good as any of the other plastic-pouch solutions out there.  Plus it has a small headphone extension so you can plug in your headphones while keeping the pouch completely sealed.

The clear side also allows full use of your touchscreen so all functions can easily be accessed.  Unfortunately, the extension jack only supports stereo out, no mic connection so making calls while your phone is in the case is a no-go.

Although not IP rated, I wouldn't really do anything extreme with ANY soft case.  If you need it to be submersible however, you may want to look at the hard cases from H2O Audio instead.  But I'd pick DesignGO's water pack over any of the other soft cases that sell for 3x more.  Pelican cases offer additional shock protection aside from mild water resistance, while Otterbox only offers shock protection, not water resistance.

Past Tech Gospels

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