Blog Posts by Tori Floyd

  • (Image from Motorola)The Moto X from Motorola was unveiled last week with one big focus: customization. In an effort to gain more of the smartphone market share, the announcement of Google’s newest device focused on a device that’s user friendly and stands out from other smartphones in look and functionality.

    For function, the phone certainly comes with lots of neat features: the phone is “always listening” and will respond to voice commands after you say “OK, Google Now” (much like the voice prompt for Google Glass). The function is similar to Apple’s Siri, allowing you to ask for specific information or to perform actions with the phone, except you don’t need to press any buttons first.

    It also offers more detailed notifications so you know what you’re phone is alerting you about (email, calendar appointment, etc.) and faster access to camera functionality: twist your wrist twice, and you’re ready to start shooting pictures.

    But if the selling feature for you was the wide selection of colours that Motorola

    Read More »from Black-and-white issue: No colourful Moto X options coming to Canada
  • Black Hat USA 2013 attendees (Reuters)Finding a charger for your smartphone in a public place can be a huge relief, but if you’re not careful, it can lead to big problems for you and your smartphone.

    At the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas this week, three researchers demonstrated how they were able to hack a smartphone in less than 60 seconds by using a tiny LINUX computer and a malicious app. Now, Apple has responded to this research by including an update for iOS 7 (which is yet to be released to the general public) that will prevent your iPhone from being affected.

    The team of Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song from the Georgia Institute of technology built a malicious charger they called “Mactans” which is small enough to appear to be just a charger, but also contains a small computer. When an iPhone 5 plugs into the computer through a USB connection, it will begin charging. It also unlocks as the device assumes as if you’ve attached it to a computer via USB you trust.

    The researchers created this computer

    Read More »from Apple releasing update to prevent fake charger hacking attacks
  • Back in May, we learned that one of the devices BlackBerry would be introducing this year would be the Q5. Unlike the Q10 and Z10, it appeared to be a lower-priced version better suited to emerging markets, with a plastic exterior and isolated buttons.

    But instead of just being released overseas, it looks like Canadians will be able to get their hands on the new smartphone, too: the BlackBerry Q5 will be hitting store shelves in Canada on August 13.

    [ Related: The BlackBerry Q5: A low-priced BlackBerry for emerging markets ]

    For some, the news is extremely welcome; Yahoo! Canada readers were upset when the news initially broke that Canada wouldn’t be the first to get that phone. Here’s a sample of what our readers said at the time:

    “The Q5 is the phone that I would ideally purchase as my next phone. Bring it to the Canadian market soon please. I currently have a Curve 9320, it does all I need in a phone. If Blackberry needs a tester I'm on board lol.” – R.L.

    “Seriously this is part of

    Read More »from BlackBerry Q5 coming August 13, but makes ‘no sense’ in Canada, marketing expert says
  • Make the most of your summer road trip with these apps

    Like many Canadians, I’m embarking on the time-honoured practice this weekend of piling into a car, driving for hours along kilometres of highway, stopping only for bathroom breaks, roadside diners and anything with “world’s largest” in the title. And also like many Canadians, I’ll be carting along my smartphone, unable to fully detach myself from the world of digital comforts.

    For those of you who will be taking a similar road trip this summer, you can make them that much easier and more enjoyable by loading up some of these apps before you head out:

    How to get there: By now you’re likely familiar with the basic mapping software like Google Maps and Apple’s Maps software. If you’re looking for an alternative, though, try checking out Waze or HERE Maps. Waze gained quite a following during the early days of the Apple Maps fallout, and was a popular alternative for many iPhone users for its social mapping approach. Other Waze users can mark maps in an area to help out other drivers by

    Read More »from Make the most of your summer road trip with these apps
  • 5 ways to avoid a $3,000 in-app purchase bill from Apple

    Earlier this week, we heard about a woman who received quite a shock: while playing a ‘free’ game on an iPad, her daughters managed to rack up $3,000 in in-app purchases. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of story, and it’s definitely not the last.

    If you want to know how to protect yourself from getting a huge iTunes bill from Apple, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

    • Protect your password: The way that the woman’s twin seven-year-olds were able to make so many in-app purchases, CBC reports, was because they knew their mom’s password from watching her enter it in the past. Just like with your PIN number, use some discretion when typing it in – after all, it’s protecting your money the same way.
    • Know what you’re giving your child access to: Despite their groaning and whining, you don’t have to give your children your iPad to play with. Yes, there are lots of fun games on there, but that doesn’t mean the device itself is designed for kids. If you’re not 100%
    Read More »from 5 ways to avoid a $3,000 in-app purchase bill from Apple
  • (Artwork by Hal Lasko)Almost everyone who used a computer in the 1990s has used MS Paint, the drawing software bundled with Windows 95. But there’s a good chance your works of art never looked like Hal Lasko’s.

    Lasko, at nearly 98 years old, has painted dozens of works of art with Paint. Gizmodo reports that Lasko has severely impaired vision, but using the zoom features on his computer allows him to continue creating artwork.

    [ Related: IBM warps atoms into crazy 'Star Trek' art ]

    In the bio on Lasko’s website, it explains that the Ohio artist started a career as a graphic designer before moving on to drafting maps for bombing raids during World War II. Following the war, Lasko returned to graphic design and worked for a range of companies including General Tire, Goodyear and American Greetings. Throughout his career, Lasko continued to work on his personal paintings late at night, when he had the time. After his retirement, he dedicated more of his time to art, eventually being shown Microsoft Paint by his

    Read More »from 97-year-old Hal Lasko uses Microsoft Paint to create stunning artwork
  • Karsten Nohl (Forbes photo)You might think that by not clicking on strange links from your phone, you’re keeping your mobile device safe from identity theft attacks. Unfortunately, some recently revealed research shows you may not be so safe, after all.

    German mobile security expert Karsten Nohl says he has found a weakness in certain SIM cards which could allow hackers to listen to phone conversations and steal personal information.

    “We can remotely install software on a handset that operates completely independently from your phone,” Nohl told The New York Times. “We can spy on you. We know your encryption keys for calls. We can read your SMSs (text messages). More than just spying, we can steal data from the SIM card, your mobile identity, and charge to your account.”

    Nohl discovered the flaw as part of a widespread research project. He and his team tested about 1,000 SIM cards in Europe and North America over two years, and found that about one quarter of the SIM cards tested were susceptible to the

    Read More »from SIM card vulnerability could lead to widespread phone hijacking
  • Four high-tech ways to beat the heat this summer

    With half of Canada being caught in the grips of a heat wave this past week, many of us are on the hunt for ways to keep cool. And even when the heat breaks for a couple of days, I have some bad news for you: it’s only July. We’re not out of the woods yet.

    If you’re one of those people who thrives in this heat and are enjoying baking in feels-like-40-degrees temperatures, this article isn’t for you. But if you’re like me, and are desperate for some relief, here are some ways technology can rescue you from the miserable, sweaty torture:

    1. Regulate your home cooling system

    (Image from Nest)During this time of year, the power grids in major metropolitan areas have to deal with the heavy load of running thousands of air conditioning units. This can result in overworking the system, forcing rolling blackouts, and then even though you have that great AC, you’re forced to swelter.

    You can do your part to minimize your impact on the power system by digitally managing the temperature in your home, helping it run

    Read More »from Four high-tech ways to beat the heat this summer
  • In this Oct. 11, 2009 photo, a 64 gigabyte SanDisk Ultra Backup USB 2.0 flash drive is shown in New York.Cyber-security is a big deal to Canadians, and with good reason: with the right information, an identity thief can take out a credit card in your name and rack up debt. Or worse. And based on recently released emails, it looks like the Canadian government isn’t taking digital information safety lightly, either.

    In an email obtained by Postmedia News, it says that senior bureaucrats were considering paying a professional dumpster diving company $15,000 to locate the missing USB drive. It contained the personal information of more than 5,000 Canadians.

    [ Related: Government warned before loss of student loan, CPP data ]

    The email also shows that they also considered burning the garbage, in hopes of destroying the USB key and preventing the information from being found:

    “Bryan is looking (at) burning the garbage so if USB key is there this will protect the department (from ) impact or ‘repercussion,’” a Nov. 23 email from Service Canada corporate security manager Jeanne Dufour said, according

    Read More »from Loss of USB key prompted Ottawa to consider hiring dumpster divers, emails show
  • (Image from Walmart.com)If you’re familiar with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, you may be surprised to hear that the company is in a new partnership with Walmart. The non-profit organization, normally known for its work bringing laptops to children in the developing world, will now be selling OLPC tablets at the largest retailer in the United States.

    They haven’t completely dropped their original mission, though. According to ZDNet, the aim of bringing inexpensive devices to people who would otherwise be unable to access them is still a key priority. The XO Kid’s Tablet PC comes as a successor to last year’s XO 3.0, but this is the first time the tablet will be made available through a major national distributor.

    And the potential to do good in the United States for children in low-income families is tremendous. Despite how reliant society has become on technology, there are still thousands of school children who don’t have access to a computer or tablet in their homes across Canada and the United

    Read More »from Tablet designed for students in developing countries now being sold at Walmart

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