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Mar 29, 2013

You Can Buy A Piece of Canadian Property With Bitcoin

A man is selling his 2 bedroom bungalow that sits on 2.9 acres in Canada for 6,750 BTC which is currently worth around $405,000. Bitcoin is an electronic currency that has no central bank, and isn't ran by governments or corporations.

See the Tech Chop video we did below on Bitcoin:



From The Blaze:
A two-bedroom, 900-square-foot bungalow and its corresponding acreage is up for sale in Alberta, Canada. But there’s a twist as to how it can be bought.
Unlike a traditional transaction to purchase a home, this seller is asking for it to be traded in bitcoins, a digital currency that is slowly gaining acceptance.
...Taylor More told Ars Technica he wanted to be the first home sold for $405,000 worth of bitcoins in the hopes that it “help push the currency more mainstream.” At the current exchange rate, which is $60 per bitcoin, the house would cost 6,750 BTC.
I am a fan of Bitcoin, but I'm not sure that I like it so much that I would try and sell my property with it. At least not until it goes a little more mainstream. Also, Bitcoin recently had a major glitch that caused the value to drop for a bit.

What do you think? Would you want to buy some property using Bitcoin? Would you sell your property for Bitcoin? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.
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Mar 28, 2013

California City Offers Free Wi-fi Using Smart Meters

Elster A3 ALPHA type A30 single-phase kWh smar...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Clara California now have free wireless internet to go with their new smart meter program. The reason they are able to do this is that the city will be using the wireless technology to read the smart meters remotely.

From GigaOM:
Residents of Santa Clara, Calif. not only have a new smart meter program but free outdoor Wi-Fi to boot. The city’s non-profit electric municipal utility, Silicon Valley Power (SVP), is taking advantage of connected electric meters by integrating support for a second public unencrypted Wi-Fi channel, allowing the city to blanket the airwaves with free Wi-Fi. 
SVP expects to support around 5,000 daily connections on the new public network, which has an SSID, or network name, of “SVPMeterConnectWiFi.” There’s no login, no password, nor credentials of any kind needed to use the outdoor wireless network. Utility data from the meters will be sent securely, however.
Although the access is free, which is cool, it is not fast, which sucks. The Internet speed on the new wi-fi system is around 1Mbps, which is slightly slower than A-DSL or 3G.

You can find out more about the program by visiting santaclarafreewifi.com.

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Spotify To Compete With Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Go

Spotify Logo
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In an attempt to branch out from the streaming music business that is already dominated by companies like Pandora, Spotify is thinking about breaking into the streaming movie business....dominated by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.

From The Huffington Post:
There may be too much competition in the streaming-music game for Spotify to hang on for a whole lot longer. So what's a company to do when the market is oversaturated? Enter into another oversaturated market, of course! In an effort to compete with popular streaming video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go, Spotify discussing to creating a streaming video service, according to a report from Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson.
According to Carlson's report, Spotify is planning to take a cue from Netflix and stream both existing television series and original ones after the success of Netflix's House of Cards. It remains unclear whether or not Spotify's video service will include movies. CEO Daniel Ek didn't shoot down the rumors point-blank, telling CNET in an interview on Monday: "I won't rule it out because we're a company that looks at what we're doing incredibly long term. But right now, we're all focused on music."
It may be a tough climb for Spotify though to rise up to the level of Netflix, Amazon and HBO who not only are trusted names in the entertainment industry, but they also have way more money than Spotify who only has the measly net worth of around $3 Billion.

What do you think about this? Are you a Spotify user? Would you want to use their service? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.
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Mar 27, 2013

Hulu is Looking For Buyers

Image representing hulu as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
It appears that the streaming television service, Hulu may be looking for a buyer. Three sources have told the Thompson Reuters news service that Hulu's board is putting out feelers to gauge interest in buying the online streaming service.

From The Huffington Post:
Hulu's board has approached potential buyers to gauge their interest in buying the online video service, three sources close to the company told Reuters, as owners News Corp (NWSA.O) and Walt Disney (DIS.N) weigh what to do with their interests in the five-year-old company.
The board sounded out several possible buyers as part of an internal strategic review begun recently, but it has not received a formal offer, one of the sources said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. It was unclear how many parties Hulu had contacted.
Experts are saying that Hulu will be a difficult sell because of their short-term contracts with television networks. Buyers will want lower costs with fixed long-term contracts before they will be willing to buy.
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Spamhaus Targeted In Biggest Cyber-Attack in History

cyber attack ...  Economic Pearl Harbor Will S...
 (Photo credit: marsmet526)

A spat between the widely used Spamhaus that provides a blacklist of potential spammer IP addresses and a Dutch Webhost called Cyberbunker has sparked what some are now calling the largest cyber-attack in the history of the Internet.

The attack is so big, that it is now affecting other Internet services like Netflix and may eventually affect banking systems and email.

From The BBC:
The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind in history. 
A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm has sparked retaliation attacks affecting the wider internet. 
It is having an impact on popular services like Netflix - and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email systems. 
Five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks. 
Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation which aims to help email providers filter out spam and other unwanted content. 
To do this, the group maintains a number of blocklists - a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes. 
Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers maintained by Cyberbunker, a Dutch web host which states it will host anything with the exception of child pornography or terrorism-related material.
Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a spokesman for Cyberbunker, said, in a message, that Spamhaus was abusing its position, and should not be allowed to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet". 
Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in cooperation with "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the attack.
Spamhaus says they have been under attack for over a week now, however their systems have remained online.

The attack is also being investigated by five different cyber-police groups around the world.

The attack against Spamhaus is a standard DDoS attack that is targeting the public DNS servers used by the blacklist provider. The attacks are peaking at around 300 Gbps.

Users utilizing the same DNS providers are obviously feeling the pain as well, and that is why experts are saying that it is affecting a wider group on the internet than just Spamhaus.

Have you been affected by this cyber-attack? If so, let us know in the comments.

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Congress To Telecommute?

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Steve Pe...
US Rep. Steve Pearce
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce has re-introduced a resolution to the US House of Representatives that would allow Congressmen to telecommute to Washington over the Internet instead of having to travel to the nation's capital to handle business.

Pearce submitted a similar resolution in 2010, but it was shot down.

From RT:
A US congressman last week introduced a resolution that would establish a “virtual Congress” – a legislature in which lawmakers could work remotely and ‘telecommute’ to Washington using nothing more than a computer.
New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce first introduced the idea in Nov. 2010, but lawmakers initially rejected the idea. But the legislator is determined to pass the resolution and has brought it back to the House, arguing that it would allow representatives to be closer to constituents by working and living in their home states.
The resolution was assigned to a congressional committee on March 21, which will decide whether to pass it on the House or Senate floor for a vote. Although the bill is unpopular, Pearce believes that evolving technology has made telecommuting easier than ever and that a “virtual Congress” lies in the inevitable future.
If this passes, then Representatives could potentially save tax payer dollars on airfare flying them from their home districts to the Capital multiple times per year. Instead, they could just pull up a computer and handle their voting on certain bills and resolutions.

What do you think about this idea? Do you think it's a good one? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.
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Mar 26, 2013

T-Mobile To Start Selling iPhones April 12th

Image representing T-Mobile as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

For those of you who have been wanting to lower your monthly phone bill by switching to T-Mobile, but have been hesitant on doing so because you can't live without your iPhone there is some good news.

T-Mobile has announced that they will begin selling the popular smart phone from Apple starting April 12th.

From Reuters:
T-Mobile USA said on Tuesday it will start selling Apple Inc's iPhone on April 12, making it the last of the big national U.S. operators to sell the popular smartphone. 
The No. 4 U.S. mobile provider, which plans to merge with smaller rival MetroPCS Communications, is launching the iPhone after it eliminated this week device subsidies and two-year service contracts favored by its bigger rivals.

T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, hopes its new approach will differentiate it from bigger rivals that already sell the iPhone: Sprint Nextel, AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc. 
The company, which has long struggled with customer defections, hopes to attract cost-conscious consumers through an aggressive marketing campaign that focuses on its lack of service contracts and clearly outlines their monthly cost to own such devices as the iPhone.
Is this good news for you? Let us know what you think about this in the comments.

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EU Antitrust Complaint Says Microsoft Locking out Linux

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Machines that utilize the UEFI secure Boot mechanism give Windows 8 and unfair advantage over Linux according to an 8,000-member Spanish open source group.

The group has called the UEFI Secure Boot and obstruction mechanism in a complaint filed with the European Commission.

From Ars Technica:
A Spanish group that represents open source software users has accused Microsoft of using an "obstruction mechanism" to prevent buyers of Windows 8 computers from installing Linux-based operating systems. 
That mechanism, of course, is UEFI Secure Boot, which improves boot-time security on machines designed to run Windows 8 by only booting operating systems signed with a trusted certificate. This requirement led to much consternation among Linux users in the months prior to the Windows 8 launch, but in practice probably hasn't prevented that many people from using Linux. UEFI Secure Boot can be disabled in a computer's firmware settings. Additionally, the Linux Foundation and others have provided workarounds that let Linux-based operating systems boot without disabling the security mechanism. 
The 8,000-member Spanish open source group, Hispalinux, said in a complaint filed today with the European Commission that UEFI Secure Boot is "a de facto technological jail for computer booting systems... making Microsoft's Windows platform less neutral than ever," Reuters reported today. Users must obtain digital keys from Microsoft to install non-Windows operating systems, the group noted.
For Linux users worried about UEFI Secure Boot with your favorite distro, the Linux foundation is offering a workaround.

From The Register:
The Linux Foundation's open source workaround for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot has shipped, and while it's not necessarily the easiest way to boot Linux on UEFI-enabled PCs, its authors claim it should now work with any bootloader and any distribution. 
...Linux kernel hackers wasted no time attacking the problem, and a number of potential workarounds were soon mooted. With the official release of the Linux Foundation's method on Friday, there are now two working techniques for booting Linux on UEFI Secure Boot machines.
Do you have a machine that is enabled with UEFI Secure Boot? Have you had any issues running Linux on it? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

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Mar 18, 2013

3 Steps to Using Smartphones or Tablets for Your Small Business

Choosing the degree to which business is transacted and managed digitally is just one of many questions that small business owners need to answer in the new business landscape. Now, with the ubiquity of smartphone and tablet devices, small business owners are finding new ways to take advantage of mobility and efficiency of new technologies. Already, more than a third of small business owners use smartphones or tablets to conduct business, according to ebnonline.com, and this trend is expected to grow. A report by the IDC proves mobile Internet users to surpass wireline users by 2015.

Small business owners use smartphones and tablets for more and more business activities every day, according to the ebnonline.com report. And why not? It makes your mobile simple, and there are specialized apps for almost every industry. If you’re a small business owner thinking about getting more digital and more mobile, follow these steps to find your happy digital medium.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Infrastructure

Almost every business has some room to reduce reliance on paper and improve efficiency through smartphones and tablets. Start by looking at your current vendors and what type of digital options they have. For instance, if you have a business credit card from American Express you can download its app and manage your credit card. Other vendors may have similar apps or analytic tools to use. Next determine if the ease and mobility of smartphones and tablets could increase productivity. There are guides online and apps designed to help with this part, so a little investigation can go a long way. Start with a budget of the initial cost of moving more business digital. Be sure to include the cost of buying new equipment for your staff (if needed), and whether you’d have to buy a new printer, scanner, or other auxiliary devices.

Step 2: Purchase and Play

Once you’ve decided to conduct more business on your smartphone or tablet it’s time to load it up with apps and get it to work. For a small business owner there are four main apps that can help run the business: 1) financial management — accounting, manage payments, manage payroll, track expenses, you name it, and you can probably do it on an app; 2) file storage — making all your companies relevant information accessible to you whenever; 3) document editing — there are a variety of apps for different document types, find the ones you use the most; and 4) communication — email is the obvious choice, but you can also fax, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with customers.

Step 3: Backup Accordingly

Now that, you’ve decided to digitize more of your business to be accessed by your smart device you need to take the precaution of setting up contingencies if the device doesn't function (i.e. you drop it in a puddle, it’s left in a cab, etc.). Since the devices have become essential to managing your business you must have a plan that'll allow your business to go on seamlessly without your smartphone or tablet; this could mean always having a backup device in case of calamity and saving data on a remote server.
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