gigatech2Have any of your online accounts ever been hacked?

If the answer is yes then you will know how painful it is to get your account back, if you even managed to do that at all.

An account getting hacked is even worse now, with our gmail, icloud accounts holding payment information, contacts and calendar data. Losing access to that can also mean losing access to your phone.

It’s not all bad news, with just a few steps you can get yourself an acceptable level of security. Here is how:

Two factor authentication

Wherever possible, use two factor authentication. For those who don’t know, this allows another level of confirmation when the account is accessed on new devices. A good combo is to use two factor with a pin number sent to a phone. If the service does not use two factor then use the strongest password possible or switch to a competing service that does.

Password generator

Use a password generator to generate complex passwords. Most passwords we come up with ourselves are never good enough. These generate passwords based on hashes and a password you enter along with the domain of the site.

Different passwords

The biggest risk is when people use the same password for multiple sites. One of the sites get hacked and then they try that username/email password combination across all major sites. Services like the password generator mentioned above take care of this by generating the password based on the domain name.


gigatech2An amazing deal has popped for Amazon Prime customers looking to buy a new low cost Android phone. They are offering $50 off one of two phones: the BLU R1 HD which is normally $99.99 is going for $49.99 and the $199.99 Moto G4 at $149.99. From Amazon:

“Each phone is offered unlocked, with no commitment to a contract, giving Prime members the flexibility to switch between wireless carriers and service options to best fit their needs. The BLU R1 HD and Moto G feature Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Google Mobile Services, including Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Play”

The two phones are also quite decent. The BLU R1 HD for example has some impressive specs for a low end phone:

“Featuring a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, fast 4G LTE speed, 8MP rear-facing camera, 5MP selfie camera with LED flash, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal – with microSD card support for up to 64 GB of additional storage. The BLU R1 HD is compatible with GSM carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile”

The Moto G on the other hand is an extremely popular phone that packs excellent features at a low end price:

“The fourth-generation Moto G is the latest premium phone from Motorola and the thinnest Moto G yet. Compatible with all major CDMA and GSM carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. It boasts a 5.5” full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset with an octa-core processor at up to 1.5 GHz, 2 GB RAM, and 4G LTE speeds. In addition, the Moto G features a 13MP camera with dual LED flash, and a 3000 mAh battery with TurboPower charging giving you up to 6 hours of power in just 15 minutes of charging. Available with 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, plus microSD card support for up to 128 GB of additional storage.”

There is a catch to the offer. Much like the Kindle, these prices are ad supported. Buyers will have the full suite of Amazon’s Android apps installed. Ads will also appear at random times on the lockscreen and notification bar. For those willign to tolerate these ads, it is a great offer.


gigatech2Virtual and Augmented Reality are hot in tech circles right now. Unfortunately there are very few accessible VR platforms right now. The Oculus Rift requires high end computer hardware, the Playstation VR will require both a Playstation and the headset and the HTC Vive will have its own requirements and hardware. The most accessible virtual reality system has been the Samsung Gear VR, but that is only limited to a handful of Samsung phones.

Google aims to fix this by building out another platform on Android for VR, and it is called Daydream:

“On top of Android N, we’ve built a new platform for high quality mobile VR called Daydream. Together with Android manufacturers, we’re working on upcoming phones, and sharing designs with them for a VR viewer and controller that will be really immersive, comfortable and intuitive to use. Your favorite apps and games will be coming to Daydream too, including Google’s—like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Google Photos and the Play Store. More to come this fall.”

This could be the next step that virtual reality has needed to take off with the public:

“Daydream is very much our platform for virtual reality,” says Clay Bavor head of Google VR, not just a headset. The whole project is based on the premise that Google can shape every part of the VR experience, from individual smartphone components to the Android interface itself. “We knew what each [part] was going to look like as we were designing it. Nothing had to be a bolt-on,” he says. And if the phones contain all the tech, the headset itself doesn’t need “extra gizmos” like the Gear VR’s high-accuracy motion tracker. “It can just focus on being light and having great optics.”

Daydream’s remote control, which must ship with any headset, is also fairly simple. A white oblong that Bavor says feels “kind of like a pebble,” its built-in sensors let it detect rotation and (to a more limited extent) movement, allowing users to navigate the interface by using it as a laser pointer. “One of the first things we learn how to do as kids is point, right?” says Bavor. “And analog input — as opposed to buttons for doing things, buttons for aiming — it’s something that everyone gets.”

We can expect all upcoming flagship phones with Android N to have support built in.


gigatech1The Amazon Echo has been one of the most talked about and praised product from Amazon in tech circles. It is a digital assistant that uses voice to interact with you and perform simple tasks. These tasks can be anything from reminders to playing music from Spotify. Unconfirmed reports say that Amazon has sold as many as three million of units of the Echo.

Now Google is entering the game with Google Home. A unit that is similar to the Echo, but smaller and one that comes in different colors. From Google:

“Google Home is a voice-activated product that brings the Google assistant to any room in your house. It lets you enjoy entertainment, manage everyday tasks, and get answers from Google—all using conversational speech. With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights. It’s designed to fit your home with customizable bases in different colors and materials. Google Home will be released later this year.”

It will be one of the many products that will use the Google Assistant:

“The assistant is conversational—an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater. It’s a Google for you, by you.

The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions.”

So far there are no indications of pricing or availability.


gigatech2There are several options when it comes to home video players. There is the Apple TV, Fire TV, Fire Stick, Roku, XBox360 etc. Currently one of the most popular is Google’s Chromecast stick. It was the first such device in the category and is probably the most popular. The Fire TV Stick and Roku stick were both launched after. It is popular market that looks to be growing. Here are some of the benefits of using a Chromecast:

Direct Streaming

One the biggest benefits is that once a video is cast, the device streams it directly from the source. For example, if you select a YouTube video on your smartphone and cast it to the Chromecast, it then takes over and streams the video clip directly. Bypassing your phone entirely and freeing up your phone.

Price

It is the cheapest streaming video device in the market while providing the feature set required by the majority of users. There have also been several deals that made the Chromecast extremely cheap or free. One of the first gave a three months Netflix subscription for free with each Chromecast. Recent deals have seen buy 1 get 1 free or as much as 50% off. Even users who purchased it at no discount received free movies and subscriptions from Google long after.

Simplicity

It is also the simplest device to use. Download the app and set it up. Once you have done so, any app that has Chromecast support will show a cast icon when it is on the same network. You can then send the output directly to the TV just by clicking it and selecting the Chromecast.