The UpStream (Page 248)

LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES 2013

posted Thursday Oct 25, 2012 by Scott Ertz

LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES 2013

When HP open sourced webOS, we all knew it had more to do with the charitable donation benefit of giving a $1.2 billion project to the web. That didn't stop us from wondering what might happen with the project after launching. The addition of Gram, a webOS professional team dedicated to bringing a more robust webOS to OEMs, it was clear HP didn't want it to just die.

This week the first hardware partner of Open webOS was revealed, and it is not what anyone would expect. In fact, it is a partner that is surprising and a form-factor that is even more unexpected. LG has teamed up with HP and Gram to produce the first ever webOS-powered smart television. Open webOS is replacing LG's own NetCast operating system, as well as the previously announced Google TV partnership. NetCast was unveiled at CES 2009, along with the original Palm Pre and webOS as a whole. While webOS has had various forms, as well as 3 master versions, NetCast hasn't really changed since launch.

Bringing webOS to a television is a bit of a challenge. Despite demand from the community, there has never been a Netflix app, official Pandora app, Yahoo!, CinemaNow or even a proper YouTube app since the original Pre. Though there is a Pandora app, even that isn't official, meaning there's a lot of work to be done. These apps are said to be in development in preparation for their debut on the LG television, and one can only hope we can see them in action on the existing webOS devices now that they exist.

The one remaining massive obstacle to overcome is the boot time. If you have ever interacted with a webOS phone, or any smartphone for that matter, you know it takes a while to boot up. It is one of the reasons the phones stay in hibernation most of the time instead of powering off all together. LG and Gram is going to have to work together to figure out how to fix this problem or the television is going to be a massive failure. They could always take the phone route and leave the processor running all the time so that the TV powers up quickly, but that would take a little more power.

We expect to see LG and HP figure out this hitch and we look forward to seeing Open webOS premiering on the big screen this January at CES 2013.

Barnes & Noble Gets Hacked In-Store

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Barnes & Noble Gets Hacked In-Store

Color me impressed. Apparently, Barnes & Noble managed to get backed from inside their own stores - kind of. Hackers managed to collect and debit credit card information from in-store shoppers in 63 Barnes & Noble stores. The hackers entered the stores through the electronic PIN pads in front of the registers, collecting card numbers and PINs during purchases.

The company became aware of the issue a little over a month ago, yet kept the issue quiet from customers at the direction of the Justice Department. They hoped the FBI would have better luck identifying the perpetrators if they were unaware that the FBI was on to them. Now that the information has become public, the company has warned that any customer who had shopped at any of the affected stores should definitely change their PIN and check their accounts for unauthorized activity.

An official for the company, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect the investigation, said,

We have acted at the direction of the U.S. government and they have specifically told us not to disclose it, and there we have complied.

The company has said that some customers have reported seeing unauthorized activity on their accounts already, but that most of that activity had already died down in the last few weeks. As part of the investigation, the company has removed all of the PIN pads from all of their stores. When asked if it had caused any problems, the official said,

Right now, we have no PIN pads in any stores and we are O.K. with that.

I would imagine that during a time like this, the company is going to spin it however they can so that they are not whining about the inconvenience to the daily operation of the stores, considering customers' financial information is out in the wild. That, and they are too busy dealing with the aftermath of this issue. According to Edward Schwartz, the chief security officer at RSA,

This is no small undertaking. An attack of this type involves many different phases of reconnaissance and multiple levels of exploitation.

It sounds like they are going to have a lot of work ahead of them and, hopefully, the research done will help prevent this kind of attack in the future.

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

It would appear that Zynga is trying to beat their employees to the punch and have started letting them go. In all, Zynga let go of 5% of their workforce yesterday, probably in a cost savings measure. It all stems from a rapid decline in profit, detailed in today's SEC filing for Quarter 3 2012. While their revenue numbers were up over estimates, the $316 million was not enough to keep them from losing almost $53 million for the quarter. This brings their total to $160 million in losses for the year so far.

This loss is the culmination of lackluster game announcements and copyright lawsuits, plus employees who need to be bribed to stay, though leaving may have been the better option. Even with all of these problems, somehow the market did not respond accordingly. In fact, the stock price went the other direction from last quarter, and went up. When your price is in the $2 price range, however, it isn't that big of a swing.

Zynga's CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, said in the investor release,

While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.

We're implementing a number of steps to drive long-term growth and profitability. The successful launches of FarmVille 2 and ChefVille in the third quarter demonstrate that when we develop great games, our large player audience engages. It's more clear than ever that along with search, shop, and share, play is a fundamental pillar of the Internet, and Zynga continues to be the leader.

Maybe, at some point, their purchase of OMGPOP, or the possibly upcoming Draw Something TV show, will help them get back on track. They have their work cut out for them with EA gunning for them, plus Stan Lee's entry into mobile gaming.

What do you think? Can Zynga, the former kings of social gaming, turn it around and compete in the now fast-paced mobile and social gaming industry? Let us know in the comments section.

Major Security Vulnerability in Android Apps, Could Affect 185 Million Users

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Major Security Vulnerability in Android Apps, Could Affect 185 Million Users

With any open platform, risks are abundant. Outages, breaches and of course, malware built into applications can run rampant without any sort of check and balance system. It is one of the reasons the Google Play store can be as dangerous as a minefield, and we've been reporting on the problems that have been plaguing the Google app store for over a year. Android devices have been hijacked by innocent-looking apps, with security attacks growing each quarter and the problems have even shown up on Chromebooks. Now, researchers have reported that the applications from the Android marketplace have put banking account information, social network and email passwords at risk. It is estimated that the problems affect as many as 185 million people, assuming each person downloaded only one of the affected apps one time.

Germany's research teams at Leibniz University of Hannover and Philipps University of Marburg found that 41 apps that were available in the Play store last week are leaking your private information as the data moves from your smartphone to the servers. The group was able to remake a scenario using a local area network and already-known exploits to prove their findings. They said,

We could gather bank account information, payment credentials for PayPal, American Express and others. Furthermore, Facebook, email and cloud storage credentials and messages were leaked, access to IP cameras was gained and control channels for apps and remote servers could be subverted.

We have more on this major issue and examples of the vulnerabilities after the break.

3 Year Old Makes You Look Foolish for Thinking Windows 8 is Difficult to Use

posted Sunday Oct 21, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

3 Year Old Makes You Look Foolish for Thinking Windows 8 is Difficult to Use

Microsoft should have launched Windows 8 with the tagline: So easy, a three-year-old could do it. With every PC purchase, you'd save another 15 percent on your car insurance, even. It all makes sense, right?

The tech world has been ablaze ever since Windows 8 was announced, bashing the operating system for one reason or another. Whether it be the removal of a start menu that, minus the quick search feature (which is now your Start Screen), hasn't proved useful since Windows XP, or Gabe Newell claiming that Windows 8 "isn't for gamers," it appears everyone wants to take a shot at the revolutionary operating system. One main reason these tech journalists are quick to fire off a round at Microsoft is because they claim the elderly may not get adjusted to the new user interface. What most do not realize is that the problem is slowly ending, as more and more of the older generations transition into technology or simply refuse to accept the change, because let's face it: people hate change. Microsoft has forced this on us like they did with Windows Vista and everybody eventually accepted. However, nobody seems to point out how simple the OS really is. So simple, in fact, that a three-year-old can actually accomplish ordinary Windows 8 tasks without much coaching.

This is exactly what's happened with YouTuber Adam Derosiers' three-year-old son, Julian. He blazes around the new Windows 8 without much trouble at all. Of course, he gets the occasional coaching from his father, but anyone with a toddler knows that their focus will shift every six seconds or so. Sure enough, however, Julian shows us how to get to the Start Screen, open and close apps, pin them, shrink the size by sliding and much more. He even showed me an easier swipe method of closing apps. How great!

We have the video after the break. This really poses the question: Is Windows 8 really that bad or have we as a whole have given into the Linux-based fruit technology so much that we refuse to accept anything from the competitor, regardless of quality and consistency? Leave your comments below and check out the video.

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

When it comes to Amazon, we usually have very good things to say about their audio and video offerings. Occasionally the company will mess up big time, like in the instance of their weekend AWS outage. However this is one of those times where Amazon will end up looking like heroes without even having to try.

Considering that e-books are a penny business, where every cent literally does count, a lawsuit is the last thing a content provider or publisher could need. Three book publishers are on the paying end of one of these messy settlements, to the tune of 30 cents to $1.32 per e-book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012 from the Amazon Kindle store. Amazon, among other e-book stores, claim that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, conspired to "fix and raise" the prices of their e-books in order to make more profit. The settlement should be finalized and approved when the trial begins in June 2013 and will place limitations on a publisher's ability to set e-book prices. Amazon customers will receive credits to their accounts but can also request a check be cut if they are eligible.

It should be noted that the settling publishers have denied they did anything wrong but still have agreed to settle outside of court, for $69 million. That's a high price for innocence. Also, Amazon customers aren't the only ones affecting but were the only ones we could find a payout for each e-book. From what the settlement website says (source link below), all e-book stores are eligible for a credit, including Sony, Apple, Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble's marketplaces.

Here's the email that affected Amazon customers should have received this week.

Dear Kindle Customer,

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.

Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here:

In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers' ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.

Thank you for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

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