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Salary surveys are one way to get someone’s attention, especially if the survey is focused on an emerging IT job role such as Data Scientist. Read More »

Microsoft is ready to release the latest version of their popular operation system (OS), Windows 8 in October 2012. Read More »

Recruitment agencies are the new trend in the business world. These are separate entities that work to connect employers and employees by searching for suitable candidates for the provided vacancies. Read More »

The iPhone 5 is light, thin, fast and comes with a 1136 x 640-pixel screen. Read More »

Microsoft certification courses prepare candidates for examinations.Certification courses verify that IT professionals have learned the key concepts required for certification examination. Read More »


SaneBox: Email Management Tool

Email is a pain. There are simply too many messages to handle—and I’m not even talking about spam from marketers (I use a separate address to collect those emails). The headache is the increasing number of legitimate business messages—it’s a humongous time-suck that only seems to be getting worse.

Until, that is, I tried SaneBox.

It’s like Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature in that it looks at your messages and prior history engaging with those senders and decides which emails you’re likely to deem most important.

When you turn on the Priority Inbox feature in Gmail, Google separates your email into three categories: Important and unread, Starred, and Everything Else; all the mail is still in your inbox, but the important messages are up top.

SaneBox is a bit different in that it removes less important messages from your inbox completely, moving them to an @SaneLater folder that you can peruse whenever you want. If SaneBox puts an important message into that folder you can move it to your inbox and it remembers the action so the next time you receive a message from that person, it will go to your inbox.

Priority Inbox is trainable in this way, as well; the more you move stuff around, the better it gets at categorization. But I prefer SaneBox.

SaneBox vs. Gmail’s Priority Inbox

SaneBox gives you a custom dashboard including a timeline that graphs how many important and less important emails you get every day. My current average, according to SaneBox, is 81 a day. If I took a minute to read, digest, and respond to each one of them, that’s nearly an hour and a half a day going through email. If you figure there’s at least 250 work days in a year, I’m spending 375 hours annually on email. That’s not acceptable.

In addition to the @SaneLater folder that stores non-essential messages, you can also enable folders such as @SaneNews for newsletters and @SaneBlackHole for those messages you want to send straight to your Trash. (Ha! Finally I’m getting revenge on a certain five-letter-titled fitness magazine that has not let me unsubscribe to its newsletters for two full years!)

Automated nagging!

And it also has a nifty feature that lets you CC or BCC a message to to remind you if someone doesn’t respond.

So let’s say you need an answer from your boss about a project and you need it no later than two days from now. In the CC field just include the address and in two days SaneBox will put the message back in the top of your inbox if she never replied to it. This way you remember to bug her again.

SaneBox also creates an @SaneRemindMe folder that lets you keep track of all the messages to which you still need replies. Use, or; it doesn’t matter, SaneBox will figure out the time frame you need.

The service is $5 a month and works with email clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, iPhone, and Android and as well most email services like Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail.  The only service it doesn’t currently support is Hotmail.


Six signs your computer is infected

Image courtesy of Digital Trends

Viruses – both real and virtual – have a lot in common. For starters, they both suck to catch. Smallpox, Stuxnet, Conficker, or the common cold – we can all agree that regardless of whether they’re in your body or your PC, viruses are universally awful. Second of all, while both types of viruses can be avoided with the proper precautions, odds are you’ll still pick one up at some point in your life. And lastly, just like recognizing a viral infection in your body, knowing if your PC has been infected is all about knowing the symptoms. So, as netizens concerned for the well-being of the community, we’ve put together this list of computer virus symptoms to help you diagnose any problems you might be experiencing.


Telltale signs of an infected PC


Pop-up ads


Remember these things? Dear god were they annoying back in the day. One minute you’re minding your own business, talking with your buddy through this newfangled online chatroom thingy, and then BAM! a flashy window appears to inform you that you’re millionth visitor to this site, and you absolutely must CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE!


Luckily, those days are behind us. Most modern browsers now include robust popup blockers, so pop-ups shouldn’t really be a problem anymore if your browser is up to date. The occasional pop up might still happen if you’re clicking around a shady site, but it’s highly unlikely nowadays that you’ll encounter a lot of them online. If you’re getting a lot of pop-ups while you’re surfing the Web, it’s likely just a poorly-configured browser. Adjust your settings and they should go away.


What you should really worry about is if you’re still getting pop-ups while your browser isn’t even open. If that’s the case, chances are good that you have a virus on your system. The most common ones are ads that say something like “Alert! your computer might be infected with a virus,” and then offer up free software to fix it. Please don’t be a numbskull and fall for this – you’ll only be downloading more malware.


To get rid of the virus, get your hands on a malware removal tool. We recommend using Spybot Search & Destroy (free) or Malwarebytes Virus Removal ($25).


Hijacked accounts and messages you didn’t send


Just like real-world viruses, computer viruses are on a mission to spread and infect as many machines as possible, and often the way they do this is by hijacking your email, IM, or social media accounts and sending malware-laden messages to your contacts. This is hard to detect sometimes, since most of us keep a close watch on our inboxes, but rarely stop to check our outboxes. More often than than not, you find out about these phantom messages from your savvy friends who see them in their inbox, realize something’s phishy, and let you know you might’ve been hacked. Just keep an eye on your Sent messages on every platform and make sure you change your account password if you notice anything you didn’t write yourself.


Lockdown warnings


So you’re on your PC, doing your thing and putting the finishing touches on the most adorable kitten GIF of all time. Suddenly, an official-looking message appears on your screen, informing you that your computer has been locked due to your illegal activity, and that you must pay a fee to regain control of it. Don’t worry, these types of messages are complete bull. You weren’t doing anything illegal – kitten GIFs are not illegal! – your computer is just infected with ransomware.


Sometimes these messages aren’t even official-looking; they’re just plain old ransom notes that say, “we’ve taken control of your computer, pay us and we’ll let it go free.” Whatever you do, do not enter any kind of payment information. Chances are slim that it’ll give you back control. What’s worse is that you probably won’t be able to remove the virus with your normal antivirus software either – you’ll need to get your hands on a rescue disc from AVG or Kaspersky.


Crashing, freezing, and general slowness


While system crashes, frozen screens, and painfully slow operation could be caused by poor configuration, these can sometimes also indicate that your PC is infected with malware. The best way to tell if it’s one or the other is how quickly things got bad. If your computer has gradually been getting slower over time and has now reached a point where it occasionally comes to a halt, it might be simply because you haven’t been performing regular system maintenance.


If your computer was running smoothly one day, and suddenly became laggy, slow, and unresponsive overnight, then there’s a chance that malicious software is the cause. Viruses often run tasks that take up a lot of resources and make your system run more slowly than usual. Try opening up Task Manager to see what’s running. If that doesn’t work, keep reading.


Essential functions don’t work


Most major operating systems come standard with a task manager that allows you to see what your PC is doing at any given moment. For Windows users, this can be accessed with control+alt+delete, whereas Mac users can simply open Spotlight (command+space) to find/open the Activity Monitor program. These tools will provide you insight into what programs are currently running on your computer, and you should always be able to access them. If for some reason you can’t get your task manager (or other diagnostic tools) to open, there’s a chance your computer is infected with a virus that doesn’t want you to find it.


If this happens, run your antivirus program if you can. If you can’t (presumably because the virus is blocking this too), then you’ll likely have to resort to a separate virus removal tool.


Nothing’s wrong


Even if everything seems peachy and your computer runs without any problems, there’s always the chance that your system is harboring a malicious piece of software that you’re totally unaware of. As a general rule, the more advanced the virus, the lower your likelihood of discovering the infection. Think about it – if you were a world-class cybercriminal, would you design a virus that people could easily detect and shut down, or would you take time to make it practically invisible? Exactly.

Some of the most sophisticated viruses in the world have been found to include software that actually deletes other malicious files that might get cause virus scanners to send up red flags. As cybercriminals continue to step up their game, it’s increasingly likely that you won’t even notice your computer has a virus, so keeping this in mind, you shouldn’t always assume that you aren’t infected simply because your system runs smoothly. At the end of the day, the best way to keep your PC malware-free is to give it regular checkups with a good antivirus program, and always make sure that your operating system is up to date

SCADA security And You

I do worry about the security of our industrial control and SCADA systems. I have been for the last 24 years in fact, ever since I first encountered them. In my view the real problem has always been bridging the gap between the theoretical vulnerabilities of these systems and the everyday business reality of managing a process plant.

Seen from the plant manager’s perspective it’s very simple. There are pressures to cut costs, sweat assets and provide round-the-clock connectivity to remote or mobile engineers. These systems are rarely (if ever) brought down by a hacker or malware. But every now or then an auditor, IT or security person who knows next to nothing about how the plant works comes round and tells you to either disconnect the contractors who keep the plant running, or to rip out and rebuild all the instrumentation at enormous cost.

Not very compelling is it?  Unfortunately the security community have learned very little over the last 20 years about how to solve the problem. The first SCADA systems emerged in the late 1980s and many were quickly hacked through insecure public network connections. We designed makeshift firewalls to protect them (in those days we called them “relays” because the term hadn’t been invented) but we failed to keep up with all the connectivity requirements and many early implementations were  disconnected or by-passed.

Two decades later we face the same problem though the threat has become much more serious: professional attackers with sinister motives rather than casual teenage hackers. But many security professionals still don’t understand the business environment. Penetration testers turn up, conduct a few network scans and then recommend hardening or disconnecting insecure platforms. The problem is you can’t disconnect or patch essential platforms that need to run and be managed 24 hours a day.

A few years ago Idaho National Labs blew up an Aurora power generator through a hacking attack. Security professionals made a big deal about it, many suggesting we should disconnect them, though I have a suspicion that this particular attack could have been prevented by a $10 dollar hardware enhancement. Why did nobody suggest that?

This week I see that Trend Micro have published a report on the security of Industrial Control Systems. Not surprisingly they found that there are lots of insecure platforms connected to the Internet. The answer? Disable Internet access and apply patches.

Am I alone in thinking that the answer should be to look at the methods of operation and the real potential hazards, and then come up with secure solutions that actually fit the operational requirements? Unfortunately we seem to have evolved a tick-box, commodity-based security profession that can do little more than point out the blindingly obvious.

With the chat app kill the SMS?

Will software application developers who build online chat apps be in some part responsible for the ultimate demise and passing of the SMS communication?

This is the question we now face as free chat apps like ‘WhatsApp’ help chat app messaging overtake SMS texts.

Research group Informa’s Pamela Clark-Dickson says there is “a lot of life still” in SMS at the end of the day.

NOTE: WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app to exchange messages (across device platforms) without having to pay for SMS — it is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.

According to the BBC, Clark-Dickson has explained that most of the chat apps were used by consumers who own smartphones. “However, there are a large number of consumers, especially in emerging and lesser developed economies, who use normal mobile phones and rely on SMS as the preferred messaging tool,” she said.

Technical marketing spokesperson and self-confessed ninja warrior Nathan Pearce of F5 explains that free apps aren’t just muscling in on the messaging territory of mobile service providers; WhatsApp is now rumoured to be considering a voice chat function.

“If we can text and make calls for free on the go, what does the future have in store for mobile service providers? It seems likely that free messaging apps will follow in Skype’s footsteps by making traditionally paid-for services free for all. As communication apps continue to take their piece of the pie, mobile service providers will need to look for alternative opportunities to generate revenue,” said Pearce.

F5′s Pearce insists that context will now play a truly crucial role.

He says that in order to remain competitive in this changing market, “Mobile service providers need to understand context; offering intelligence that allows them to deliver the right data to the right user at the right time, quickly and securely.”

Is the SMS dead? No, not yet.

Is the software application development marketplace for chat apps at some kind of fulcrum or inflexion point?

Oh yes indeed.

HP Gen8 MicroServer



This week at HP Discover a new MicroServer was unveiled. It was billed as a server for the really small SMB or for a college dorm or home server even. However if you search around for virtualization home labs you will see that many people are using earlier generation HP Microservers.

But is it time to upgrade to the latest MicroServer for your home lab?

To answer that lets ask why you would want to upgrade. For a VMware home lab we really only want a few  things: CPU speed, Lots of memory, low power draw, and storage.

The Gen8 MicroServer comes with a choice of Intel processors: a Celeron, or a Pentium. Both are low power cpu’s and are part of the Intel Ivy Bridge family and are socket LGA 1155. It is however only a dual core CPU running at 2.5Ghz (for the Pentium), but I’m sure that someone will try swapping out the CPU for something like a quad core E3 series.

Just like its predecessors the Gen8 is also a very lower power box, which normally translates to little heat out put… perfect for a home lab.

As for storage the Gen 8 comes with 4 internal drive bays for non-hot swap sata drives. They are controlled by the HP SmartArray B120i, drive bay 1 and 2 are 6.0 Gbps, and slots 3 and 4 are 3.0Gbps. Also the controller only support RAID0,1,1/0. OK so do you want to hear the coolest part which I havent seen advertised much ? IT has an internal MicroSD card slot on the board! Perfect for installing ESXi on!

Adobe is giving the stylus a second life

FIO22 stylus

The electronic stylus has been around since the days of Apple’s ill-fated Newton handheld. But as touchscreens improved, the need for input tools to interact with smartphones and tablets waned. Now Adobe thinks it can make styluses cool again. Its Project Mighty is a slick aluminum pen geared toward artists, architects, and designers. The forthcoming gadget is pressure sensitive and can be used to draw on the surface of an iPad, for instance. It also connects to the cloud, so users can call up their sketches on multiple devices with the click of a button on the side.

The San Jose-based company’s flagship products are software such as Photoshop and InDesign; hardware is a new foray. Adobe enlisted industrial designers Ammunition Group — the firm that created Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones — and MindTribe, an engineering consultancy, to assist. The result is a three-sided pen with a “bead-blasted” finish and the ability to copy and paste color schemes and clip art across mobile devices. The product is still in an “exploratory” phase — hence the grandiose code name — though it has already gone through several iterations. An earlier version included a cap, which was nixed for fear users might misplace it.

Adobe isn’t saying when Mighty will be available or how much it will cost. Even so, about 10,000 people signed up to receive information on Mighty in the two weeks after Adobe revealed its plans. There are already smart pens on the market, with prices ranging from about $20 to $200, and the number is growing. “The innovation [on mobile devices] is accelerating very rapidly, and we don’t want to be behind on that,” says Michael Gough, VP of experience design at Adobe. Indeed, if the company has its way, the souped-up stylus will become a must-have accessory once more.

Cyberattacks are the bank robberies of the future


Bank robbers don’t rob banks anymore. They don’t need guns, and they don’t wear masks. Instead, they hide behind their computer screens and cover their digital tracks.

In today’s world, there are multiple ways for cybercriminals to make money long before cash is actually transferred out of a bank account. Robbing a bank has become one of the last cogs in a much broader operation.

Online theft is almost always part of a much grander scheme. Though sometimes a high-skilled individual or single group of cybercriminals will handle all parts of an operation, most cybercrime is split up into several steps, each handled by a different player, according to Vikram Thakur, a principal manager at Symantec Security Response.

Most bank account thefts begin with a single malware developer who sells malicious software on an underground black market to hackers.

On those dark channels of the Internet, criminal hackers can buy tools to steal users’ bank account credentials, services to bring down websites, or viruses to infect computers.

“There’s more variety and more choices than me going to my local Costco,” said Raj Samani, a chief technical officer at the security company McAfee.

It is easier than ever before to find and use these services, Samani said. Hiring a criminal hacker is easy, because today’s malware requires hackers to have little technological knowledge to infect hundreds or thousands of computers.

And some services are fairly cheap. For instance, getting a hold of 1 million email addresses can cost just $111. That means there are more and more cybercriminals hoping to get in on an operation.

Once unsuspecting victims’ credentials or bank account information has been collected, hackers may resell that data to someone who repackages it in a useful way and redistributes it on the black market.

Not all information has equal value. Often criminals are looking for credentials of wealthy individuals with accounts at financial institutions where they are familiar with the security systems.

“All the mature, smart criminals sell the goods to somebody else and cut themselves out of the operation, out of the cross hairs,” said Thakur.

Up to this point in the operation, no money has been stolen — but thousands or millions of dollars have already exchanged hands.

The cybercriminal who ultimately buys the bank account information may use it to transfer money out — but that’s a much higher-risk endeavor.

At this stage of the heist, cybercriminals may hire a “money mule” to increase what distance still exists between them and the act of cashing out. Mules sometimes use international wire transfers, make online purchases with stolen credit cards or actually go to the ATM using a stolen PIN and a spoofed debit card.

Money mules are often given a small share of the takings for their work, despite the fact that they’re the easiest targets for law enforcement.

“There’s a huge shortage of those people because they’re actually at risk of being caught,” said Thakur.

Most of us have at one time or another discovered our debit or credit card was used somewhere across the country. But even if the thieves take money from your account undetected, your financial institution typically covers the loss.

“Even though the threat is substantial, it does not always translate to people losing money,” said Thakur.

And the banks are getting better at stopping breaches so that it’s harder for criminals to successfully take money out at all.

The number of breaches have gone up slightly over the past year, but the trend is uneven. The Identity Theft Resource Center tracked 662 breaches at both banking and non-financial institutions in 2010, 419 breaches in 2011, and 470 breaches last year.

Financial institutions have gotten 10 times better at preventing data breaches since 1990, said Doug Johnson, vice president of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association.

“It’s not a straight march forward,” said Johnson. “But I think we clearly recognized that electronic fraud is going to increase.” To top of page

Amazon Quietly Tests Streaming Flash Videos to Kindle Fire Owners

Amazon Streaming viewer

For the past six months, Amazon has been quietly testing what it hopes will be a better way to watch Flash video content on a mobile device.

Since February, some Kindle Fire owners have been seeing an option to use an “experimental streaming viewer” when trying to watch video on sites such as, and

Amazon Streaming viewer

The effort is made possible by the fact that the Kindle Fire browser, known as Silk, divides work between the device and Amazon servers in the cloud.

“We also wanted to use the cloud to offer new features or capabilities that solve customer frustrations — one we heard often from customers was that they wanted to view Flash content,” Amazon’s Kurt Kufeld said in an email.

Amazon is not the first to consider such an approach. Splitting the workload between the cloud and local computing has long been done by Opera and others as a way to save data, while iSwifter used a streaming approach to deliver Flash content to Apple devices, which have no Flash support.

Adobe at one point supported Flash natively on Android devices, but pulled the plug a couple years back. Even when it did support Flash, performance on Android devices typically left a lot to be desired.

Though not the first to use a streaming approach to handling Flash, Amazon has the potential to deliver a ton of Flash content to a broad audience. The company has been slowly rolling out the streaming option on more websites.

“Because this feature is built on the AWS cloud, expanding our list of available sites is as simple as a configuration change that immediately propagates to customer devices and we can scale out elastically based upon customer demand,” said Kufeld, who heads Amazon’s Silk browser team. “It’s still early days but we’re very excited about this feature.”

In just the first month, Amazon said it streamed 1.4 million minutes worth of video — and that was with only a handful of sites enabled.

Amazon has since expanded the option to a few dozen sites, and is looking to extend that further, as well as to get more of people using the service.

“We heard from a lot of customers that they were disappointed when Adobe chose to stop supporting Flash in mobile devices, so we’ve since been working hard to develop a solution for supporting Flash without compromising performance, security, stability or memory,” Kufeld said. “All signs point to ESV as a great solution for this, and we’re excited for more customers to try it out.”

It’s unclear just how far Amazon might take this — say, expanding from video into Flash games or other content that is slow to render on mobile devices.

“It’s still very early days, and currently we’re focusing on video,” Kufeld said. “I can’t speak to what we may do in the future.”


Shazam Gets $40M Funding from Billionaire Carlos Slim

Media engagement company Shazam announced a $40 million investment by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil on Monday.

The funding from the largest telecommunications carrier in the Americas will support business acceleration and investment in new products, according to the company. Shazam’s continued expansion into television will be made a top priority.

Shazam‘s expansion into television has moved the company into an entirely new phase of growth with interactive advertising generating new sources of revenue and partnerships with broadcasters encouraging a broader group of people to use Shazam more frequently,” said Shazam CEO Rich Riley.

Since Shazam‘s last round of funding in 2011, the company has more than doubled its user base to 350 million people globally. That number grows by a sustained two million new users each week, the company said. The number of monthly active users has tripled.

Sales of digital goods through affiliate partners like iTunes is doubling annually and now account for over $300 million a year, according to the release.

Shazam is defining a new category of media engagement which combines the power of mobile with traditional broadcast media and advertising to create compelling value added experiences for consumers, content providers and brands,” said Slim. “We are excited to bring this innovation to America Movil subscribers.”

Top tablets with expandable storage

Some of the most popular tablets on the market, like the Apple iPads or Google Nexuses, don’t have one important feature that maximizes the usability of a tablet: expandable storage. The inclusion of a memory card slot opens the door to more possibilities and functions of your gadget.

From storing music, movies, or photos, to apps and games, expandable storage options can ensure that you get the most out of your device by letting you save more data and operate more programs than what the internal storage capacity allows.

We’ve rounded up the top tablets that let you increase the amount of storage available and maximize your user experience.

Unfortunately, Windows RT does more than skim the surface
of the Surface RT’s internal storage.

Microsoft Surface RT
The good news is that the Microsoft Surface RT tablet boasts a solid build with thoughtful design, an innovative gesture-driven menu system, and can house a microSD card up to 64GB. The 10.6-inch tablet is great for productivity with its cool split-screen function, easy-to-use keyboard accessory, and USB port that can also be used as an external storage option via flash drive. The bad news is that Windows RT eats up a significant amount of internal storage, making the expandable storage options less of an option and more of a required function to offset the inconvenience.

The Asus TF700 also features a solid rear camera.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700
The Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean update recently rolled out to the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 and upgraded it to 2013 relevancy. The once top-performing tablet now houses an older Tegra 3 CPU that no longer impresses on a 10-inch tablet, but its 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution screen and thin and light design still resonates with today’s standards. The TF700 features a microSD expansion slot that supports up to 64GB.

The Nook HD+ is also great for viewing magazines and catalogs.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+
The Nook HD+ is a steal at $149. In addition to its microSD expansion slot that can support up to 64GB, it has a portable thin and light build with good performance and a sharp screen. It also has access to Google Play and all of the apps and services accessible through the store. Barnes and Noble is changing their role in the tablet business and selling their Nook inventory through the holiday season, so if you’re in the market for a well-built, good-performing, inexpensive tablet with Google Play, the Nook HD+ could find a new home with you.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z can take the plunge in
up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is like your one skinny friend that eats whatever they want without ever gaining weight. The 10-inch tablet is one of the thinnest and lightest we’ve reviewed but doesn’t sacrifice features or performance for its slim design. It dons a sharp 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution screen, good gaming performance, NFC, and has microSD expansion capabilities up to 64GB.

The Note 8′s S Pen stylus allows you to easily
unleash your creative side — or your to-do list.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 stands out as a stellar — although pricey — small tablet and features a stylus that’s mostly handy (pun intended) for artists. If you are indeed making artful use of the S Pen, saving and backing up your work, as well as having the ability to creatively work without fear of running out of storage space, is crucial. The featured microSD expansion slot can save up to 64GB of your masterpieces and, with a purchase of the Note 8, you also get 50GB of free space on Dropbox.