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Best Smart Home Gadgets

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Best Smart Home Gadgets

We all strive to create comfortable homes. The rapid development of technology did not only bring us advancements in the realm of industry but it also affected our private lives. The purpose of every gadget and every device you use in your home is to make your life significantly easier. If you are ready to commit to some of these upgrades, here is a list of the latest smart home devices you can integrate into your household.

Assistance: Amazon Echo

Let us talk about one of the most interesting devices that is so ubiquitous in the media at the moment. This minimally designed voice-controlled cylinder comes with a virtual assistant going by the name Alexa. She can sometimes appear to be a full-fledged person, with incredible response time and even wit. Alexa is also comprehensive when it comes to information – she will give you a local estimate of the weather, tell you facts, respond to more abstract questions and even tell you a joke. Amazon Echo can additionally be used as a music player and an alarm clock.

Security: IQ Nest CamSecurity: IQ Nest Cam

We all want to keep our homes safe. Thankfully, security cameras have become mass produced and therefore quite affordable. The IQ is both smart and advanced Nest’s security camera that boasts state-of-the-art lens and useful digital sensor. For example, if intruders try to enter your home, the sensor will detect the movement and alert you. The IQ can even promptly start streaming footage in real time at high resolution, which can be used as the evidence against the intruders. However, the IQ’s face recognition is what takes the cake.

Maintenance: Dyson 360 Eye

Keeping your floors dust-free has never been easier. Dyson 360 Eye is compact and easy to transport. It does not take up too much space, and can be easily stored in a cupboard or a closet. This is why it is so unbelievable how much it can do as a smart vacuum cleaner device/robot. With the press of a single button, it will start working its way around your home and if it gets stuck by any chance, it will navigate back to a safe terrain and start again. In all honesty, once you introduce this little robot into your household, you will ask yourself how you have ever managed without it. In fact, this is probably how all of us will feel after the robot integration becomes a regular part of everyday life.

Going Green: Nest Learning Thermostat

The entire world is trying to go green and save energy and the realm of technology is trying to keep up. This is how we were introduced to Nest learning thermostat, which can be used to wirelessly control your water heater and radiators. In fact, you can even set the sensors to switch to the Away mode when they detect you have left the house. You can even use it to turn on the heating via your smartphone. This, coupled with a sonnenFlat solar panel system, will turn your house into a really efficient energy-saver.

Solar Panel

Bonus: Your Smartphone

Now that we have mentioned smartphones, we cannot stress enough how crucial its role is in “flipping” your household into a smart environment. Most devices can be interconnected just by downloading the appropriate apps and using your WiFi to fully integrate the internet of things. Just make sure to get familiar with all these concepts and devices at a reasonable pace, since the learning curve can be quite daunting.

Some of these incredible new devices will turn your home into a sleek, automated environment straight out of science fiction movies. It can appear pretty daunting at times, but catching up with the latest offerings and upgrades in the realm of technology is a must for every “citizen” of the twenty-first century.

 

 

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    October 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

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Mobile Security

Security specialists discovered Over a dozen iPhone apps linked to Golduck malware

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Security specialists state they’ve discovered more than a dozen iPhone apps covertly communicating with a server associated with Golduck, a historically Android-focused malware that infects popular classic game apps, according to a report by Techcrunch.

The malware, which was first discovered by Appthority over a year, for infecting classic and retro games on Google Play, by embedding backdoor code that allowed malicious payloads to be silently pushed to the device. At the time, more than 10 million users were affected by the malware, allowing hackers to run malicious commands at the highest privileges, like sending premium SMS messages from a victim’s phone to make money.

Now, the researchers say iPhone apps linked to the malware could also present a risk.

Wandera, an enterprise security firm, said it found 14 apps — all retro-style games — that were communicating with the same command and control server used by the Golduck malware.

“The [Golduck] domain was on a watchlist we established due to its use in distributing a specific strain of Android malware in the past,” said Michael Covington, Wandera’s vice-president of product. “When we started seeing communication between iOS devices and the known malware domain, we investigated further.”

The affected apps include: Commando Metal: Classic ContraSuper Pentron Adventure: Super HardClassic Tank vs Super BomberSuper Adventure of MaritronRoy Adventure Troll GameTrap Dungeons: Super AdventureBounce Classic LegendBlock GameClassic Bomber: Super LegendBrain It On: Stickman PhysicsBomber Game: Classic BombermanClassic Brick – Retro BlockThe Climber Brick, and Chicken Shoot Galaxy Invaders.

It was further discovered that the command and control server simply pushes a list of icons in a pocket of ad space in the upper-right corner of the app, When the user opens the game, the server tells the app which icons and links it should serve to the user, according to the enterprise security firm research(Wandera). They did, however, see the apps sending IP address data — and, in some cases, location data — back to the Golduck command and control server.
However, TechCrunch verified their claims, running the apps on a clean iPhone through a proxy, allowing us to see where the data goes. Based on what we saw, the app tells the malicious Golduck server what app, version, device type, and the IP address of the device — including how many ads were displayed on the phone.

As of now, the researchers say that the apps are packed with ads — likely as a way to make a quick buck. But they expressed concern that the communication between the app and the known-to-be-malicious server could open up the app — and the device — to malicious commands down the line.

“The apps themselves are technically not compromised; while they do not contain any malicious code, the backdoor they open presents a risk for exposure that our customers do not want to take.

“A hacker could easily use the secondary advertisement space to display a link that redirects the user and dupes them into installing a provisioning profile or a new certificate that ultimately allows for a more malicious app to be installed,” said the researchers.

 Security Specialist find over a dozen iPhone apps linked to Golduck malware

One of the iPhone apps, “Classic Bomber,” which was spotted communicating with a malicious command and control server. It’s since been pulled from the U.S. store. (Screenshot: TechCrunch)

That could be said for any game or app, regardless of device maker or software. But the connection to a known malicious server isn’t a good look. Covington said that the company has “observed malicious content being shared from the server,” but that it wasn’t related to the games.

The implication is that if the server is sending malicious payloads to Android users, iPhone users could be next.

TechCrunch sent the list of apps to data insights firm Sensor Tower, which estimated that the 14 apps had been installed close to one million times since they were released — excluding repeated downloads or install across different devices.

When we tried contacting the app makers, many of the App Store links pointed to dead links or to pages with boilerplate privacy policies but no contact information. The registrant on the Golduck domain appears to be fake, along with other domains associated with Golduck, which often have different names and email addresses.

Apple did not comment when reached prior to publication. The apps are appear to still be downloadable from the App Store, but all now say they are “not currently available in the U.S. store.”

Apple’s app stores may have a better rap than Google’s, which every once in a while lets malicious apps slip through the net. In reality, neither store is perfect. Earlier this year, security researchers found a top-tier app in the Mac App Store that was collecting users’ browsing history without permission, and dozens of iPhone apps that were sending user location data to advertisers without explicitly asking first.

For the average user, malicious apps remain the largest and most common threat to mobile users — even with locked down device software and the extensive vetting of apps.

If there’s one lesson, now and always: don’t download what you don’t need, or can’t trust.

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Press Release

Retail Pro International Adds Reseller in Mexico, Increasing Specialty Retail Access to Unified Retail Pro POS

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Retail Pro International deepens investment in Mexico specialty retail with addition of another reseller partnership, POS Latinoamericana.

Folsom, CA, Jan. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Retail Pro International, developer of global, flexible Retail Pro POS platform, announces deeper investment in Mexico retail by expanding their existing local reseller channel in partnership with Naucalpan-based IT company, POS Latinoamericana.

Specialty retailers will benefit most from this partnership, gaining greater access to software that top retailers like Samsonite, Puma, Oakley, Adidas, Diesel and Under Armour use to centrally manage in-store and ecommerce retail – Retail Pro.

Current efforts for Retail Pro International include a focus on helping retailers unify data and operations in Retail Pro, a platform store-management software. Unified data gives end-to-end visibility, helping retailers accomplish the following:

Uncover areas for performance improvement
Improve replenishment across channels
Increase efficiency in store operations

Retail Pro International CEO, Kerry Lemos, comments, “Mexico has sophisticated retailers, with high demand for modern POS technology that helps maximize ROI with better data-driven store management. We are pleased to meet that need with the introduction of more Retail Pro resellers to serve this market.”

Retail Pro International VP of Channel Sales for Latin America, Shaff Kassam, adds, “Retailers are equipped to make the most of their Retail Pro software through our Retail Pro Business Partners. Our partners offer local IT support and training for retailers’ IT teams and provide technical expertise and consulting for tailoring Retail Pro software to a retailers’ needs and regional requirements.”

The developer currently supports 54,000+ retailers in 130+ countries via Business Partner services. The availability of this local support in regions worldwide gives retailers advantage when expanding to new markets in the global economy.

POS Latinoamericana CEO Hector Jaramillo comments, “We look forward to helping Mexico retailers improve productivity and competitiveness with Retail Pro software. Because the technology is localized for Mexico and is easily customized for a retailer’s specific business operations, we believe retailers will be better positioned to respond quickly to industry change and increase profitability.”

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Press Release

ESS Technology Introduces Suite of USB CODECs featuring Audiophile SABRE DACs

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MILPITAS, Calif., Jan. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — ESS Technology, the industry leader in audio and analog design, announced today a series of USB Low-Power Audiophile CODECs that feature QUAD DAC™ Technology. Intended for use in headsets and audio adaptors that demand high-quality sound, the new line of CODECs can support end-to-end audiophile quality.  The family is built around a low-power USB controller that supports USB 1.1 & 2.0, and can handle audio data rates up to 32-bit 384kHz PCM.  At its heart is the legendary SABRE® DAC audio converter with HyperStream® II modulation that provides the ultimate in sound quality and stable sound field. The integrated headphone amp delivers that performance all the way to the headsets with up to 2.0Vrms output voltage, ensuring plenty of headroom for demanding headsets.

The highly-integrated parts also include all the needed blocks to make designing a USB audio system simple, including jack detect, button detection and GPIO inputs/outputs for custom buttons or switches.  Reference designs are available for USB-C audio adaptors and USB-C headsets, and the parts can be easily customized using external EEPROM.

The ES9281PRO is the flagship of the new line and can provide best-in-class audio performance at 124 dB DNR and -112 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N).

The ES9281PRO is the first USB product to offer an integrated hardware MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) renderer that makes MQA playback easy and cost-efficient.  MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms.  The encoding process folds extra information into the signal that can be recovered later.  The subsequent “unfolding” process takes place in two steps: the first unfold, called Core Decoding, can be done on most DSP systems, including software included in smartphone applications.  The final step in the unfolding, called rendering, needs to be done in tight cooperation with the DAC.  The ES9281PRO will automatically detect the MQA stream and engage the rendering; the entire process requires no additional design work.

An integrated Audio Signal Processor (ASP) allows for creating real-time audio filters for use as Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), customized Parametric Equalizer (PEQ), Sidetone, or other filter-based audio effects.

The ES9280PRO offers the same impressive audiophile features as the ES9281PRO but without the MQA rendering. Both products feature a wide range of additional input formats beyond USB.  In addition to the standard microphone support, they feature stereo line input and 8-channel I2S, allowing it to act as USB audio bridge for desktop audio player applications.

The third product in the line, The ES9270, offers a streamlined solution focused on creating high-quality headsets and dongles.  The ES9270 can provide 117 dB DNR and -110 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N) and features the same low-power audio controller as the flagship, without the ASP or I2S bridge.  These parts are ideal for mainstream USB-C headsets and adaptors that still want great sound.

Samples, evaluation boards, and reference designs are available now for all three parts; in addition, the ES9281PRO will be featured for listening in the ESS demo suite at the 2019 CES show in Las Vegas, January 8th – 11th.  For more information, contact your local sales representative.

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