? All Tech Radio Episode 320
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  • The first internet attack on one of our utilities was confirmed last week. A hacker from Russia broke into the network of an Illinois water district and caused the SCADA system to break some of the hardware that runs the water for the town. SCADA is the same Siemens software product that runs utilities all over the world, including the Iranian nuclear program. It's possible the same virus the US and Israel created to over spin the centrifuges in Iran was tweaked and used by Russian hackers against us. Expect many more of these to come.
  • For $199 the new Amazon Fire Tablet seems to be a great buy. There are over 8500 apps, Amazon tv, movie, and book apps are included as well. The web browser is lightening fast. Instead of browsing off the local device, as every other tablet or computer does, the Fire browses the web through Amazon's Cloud servers and fed back to the Fire many times faster than any other tablet. Although the device is limited in what it can do compared to the IPAD, it is very much worth the money.
  • Many people are expected to go out and shop on Black Friday, but big box retailers with websites are offering the same deals from your computer. Instead of fighting the crowds get the same Best Buy, Walmart, Target and more deals as if you went into the store.
  • Beware of some of the deals at Amazon however. Their Black Friday deals may seem to be too good to be true on certain items. Many deals they say retail for much more than they are selling for, but they could be off brand products, mostly in electronics, that are defective or subpar, and couldn't be sold at the retail price anyway. Black Friday and the subsequent week are great ways for Etailors to unload their low quality and low selling items. Check for brand names that you recognize only, and make sure you can send it back if it's defective in a reasonable time. Consumer reports online is still a great way to determine if a product is any good. The cost is $26 per year.
  • Google's browser-in-a-box just got a bit more appealing. The company announced a holiday surprise Monday, saying that it has dropped the price of its Chromebook laptop computer to $299. The biggest news, however, is the price cut, which shaves a hefty chunk off the Samsung Chromebook's original $429 and Acer Chromebook's original $349 price tags.
  • Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates faced cross-examination about alleged monopolistic behavior 17 years ago when he testifies in a Novell Inc. lawsuit accusing the world's largest software maker of undermining the WordPerfect program. The suit is a byproduct of the U.S. government's landmark antitrust case against Microsoft that settled more than eight years ago. In that case, the Redmond, Washington-based company was declared an illegal monopolist. Novell said in its 2004 complaint that Microsoft unfairly restricted competition by its word processing program. Gates targeted its products by name, Novell's lawyers alleged, adding that the Microsoft chairman said his company's software could not compete without the benefit of anticompetitive conduct.
  • AT&T on Monday acknowledged an organized attempt to hack information on as many as 1 million AT&T wireless customer accounts, but the company said no accounts were breached. A spokesman said the hackers appear to have used auto-script technology to find whether AT&T telephone numbers were linked to online AT&T accounts. He didn't elaborate, but said an investigation is continuing. The spokesman said fewer than 1% of AT&T's 100.7 million wireless subscribers were contacted by hackers through email, a number that could mean about 1 million customers were affected.
  • Microsoft's Windows Phone could rack up 50,000 apps in its marketplace in January 2012, according to a new estimate from the blog All About Windows Phone. "At the current growth rate, we estimate that Windows Phone Marketplace will reach the 50,000 app mark in the second or third week of January 2012," read the blog's Nov. 16 posting. "However, it is possible that this mark may be reached before the end of the year if submission rates accelerate."
  • Research in Motion's struggles with its PlayBook tablet are well documented, but the company was thought to have fared better with its new lineup of BlackBerry smartphones, which were released earlier this year. Not so fast-after encouraging early returns, sales of RIM's BlackBerry 7 phones "are showing slowing domestic sell-through," according to RBC Capital Markets. Software delays and a major service outage affecting millions of BlackBerry users contributed to RIM's slowing handset sales in several key markets, including North America, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.
  • Canalys expects PC shipments to rise by about 15 percent this year, which, however, includes shipments of tablets. In this statistic, Apple has already become a dominant player in the market. According to Canalys, PC shipments are expected to hit 415 million this year, 59 million of which will be tablets. 22 million tablets are forecast to be sold during the current quarter. Notebook sales are estimated at 211 million units, up 10 percent from last year. The North American PC market is predicted to expand by 18 percent to 103 million units. However, excluding tablets, the market grows by less than 1 percent, Canalys said.

email from listeners:

  • Melanie from Seattle asks "Should I have a web content filter and what does it do?"