Mt. Gox is Mt. Gone

The Bitcoin exchange has filed for bankruptcy protection.

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You can’t say no one didn’t see this coming. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan after losing what has been validated at 750K customer owned Bitcoins and 100K Bitcoins of its own. The losses represent approximately $474M based on a Bitcoin price of $558.

Mt. Gox has ¥6.5 billion in outstanding debt. Approximately ¥2.8 billion in cash cannot be accounted for.

“I am deeply sorry,” Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles told reporters in Japanese, offering a ritual bow of apology. “There were weaknesses in the system.” The website, mtgox.com remains off line.

While Gox is apologetic, other investors are seeking justice. One investor, declining to be recognized, said, “This is not just a civil matter. They knew they had lost these coins and continued to operate the exchange and accept deposits. You can’t sell something you don’t have and not be committing fraud.” Other investors are alleging that the bug that was exploited to misappropriate all the funds was something that had been well known in the Bitcoin community for years.

However, the issue appears more clouded and much more complicated than a mere hack. Kenji Saito, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance at Japan’s Keio University indicated that, “the [bug] is too small [of an exploit] to shut down one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. Rather, it must be that Mt. Gox has [been defrauding] its customers, [well in advance of the] February 2014 [announcement].”

Japanese authorities are conducting an investigation of Mt. Gox, following is closure.

In the US, Gox was subpoenaed by Federal prosecutors in New York. According to an unidentified source for the Wall Street Journal, Gox has been asked to preserve specific documentation. The US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York declined commenting, citing the ongoing investigation.

Now… I’ve heard a lot of speculation from a number of people here at the office saying that crypto-currencies are all going to die and this is the end of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, etc. While I’m certain that would make many international governments very happy (Bitcoin is a universal currency, and largely unregulated), I am not entirely certain that it’s going to kill the commodity. However, it certainly hasn’t done Bitcoin any favors; and its likely made its universal acceptance that much more difficult as well as pushed that possibility further out into the future.

What do you think? Did Mt. Gox defraud its investors and customers? Were they aware of the vulnerability in their systems and ignored it; or were they caught off guard? What about the ¥2.8 billion in missing cash? What’s going to happen to crypto and other digital currencies? Please tell me what you think in the discussion area, below. I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter.

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Microsoft Rebrands SkyDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is coming to a PC near you, soon.

Microsoft recently announced in a blog post that it was rebranding its SkyDrive internet file access and storage product as Microsoft OneDrive.

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The move comes after Microsoft lost a trademark case to European TV provider BSkyB.  In June 2011, BSkyB filed suit against Microsoft over SkyDrive indicating that the use of the name would confuse its customers, as it is a streaming and mobile pay-TV provider and also had an online storage service called “Sky Store & Share” that it offered  from 2008-2011.

Rather than appeal the judgment that was granted by the England and Wales High Court in June 2013, Microsoft and BSkyB announced a settlement in July 2013 where Microsoft would rebrand its cloud based storage service. Sometimes its easier to concede defeat than prove your point, and while I don’t agree with the action (because its really unlikely users of BSkyB’s service would be confused by the names Microsoft SkyDrive and BSkyB Sky Store and Share… I’m just sayin’…)

What we’re seeing now are the results of that settlement. Microsoft will rebrand SkyDrive as OneDrive. The product was previously known as Live Mesh, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Sync, and Windows Live FolderShare before being rebranded as Microsoft SkyDrive in February of 2012.  The product has had one heck of a history and has had issues finding its identity in a market dominated by Dropbox, Google Drive as well as competing with Apple’s iCloud.

Microsoft is spinning this rebranding as the “one” place where you can put all of your stuff. If you’ve used previous versions of SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you don’t need to do anything.  The service will continue to work like it always has. It’s really nothing more than a name change and rebranding of the product.

As a quick aside, I really like the way SkyDrive, now Microsoft OneDrive, works. If I wasn’t already huge into Google services, it’s a service I would seriously consider buying online storage from. Unfortunately, its pricing plans aren’t as generous with either storage or pricing options (see additional information later in this article). However, 25GB for free is a really nice plan, and is likely enough for most people. If you qualify for the 25GB plan, and don’t have cloud storage for your documents, this could be a really great option for you. You might want to look into it…

Interestingly enough, this is one area where Microsoft really has outshined Apple.  iCloud is a huge mess. Its API’s are confusing and difficult to work with. Many developers who want to build iCloud support into their apps either don’t or can’t because it’s too difficult to work with or because the features they need aren’t built into the SDK/API.  Apple even has trouble getting iCloud to work with its own apps.

Microsoft on the other hand has (now called) OneDrive support built into all of its apps.  OneNote can natively save notebooks either directly to OneDrive’s application interface or physically to a synchronized folder in OneDrive. The choice is yours.  Apple could really do themselves a favor here and figure out how this works and then model iCloud after it. It might do them a great deal of good. I know Apple wants ALL of iCloud to work like OneNote works with OneDrive – where your data saves there automatically and just appears as available when you open the app, but that’s part of the problem that they’re having with the service. It doesn’t work right.

OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox all work the same way – they sync a folder and its subfolders to the cloud.  Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t want to do this. They’ve had ample opportunity to look at the model and try to use it.  For some reason, they don’t want the data on your drive if it doesn’t have to be. Instead, they want iCloud to be just another storage location – like any other folder that is physically ON your Mac – so you can save documents there and retrieve them when needed. The data doesn’t reside on your Mac. It’s out THERE somewhere. They just don’t have this figured out right yet. I don’t know why.  Both OneDrive and Google Drive can do that, and have desktop apps work with the data.

Interestingly enough, that was what Apple’s iDrive did about 6 or so years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on…at ALL.  Apple discontinued the service and I can’t find any information on it under Apple’s name at all. iDrive itself is still available as a Dropbox-like clone.  It at least looks like it’s a decent option, and its pricing options seem very competitive.  Their 1/2 terabyte option, priced at $75 a year, is one of the best deals I’ve seen. Its 69% cheaper than Google Drive’s 400GB option (at $240 a year), and you get 100GB more space, too.

Unfortunately, right now, you can’t sync folder contents to Apple’s iCloud. If you could, I’d use it instead of Google Drive.  However, it doesn’t, so I don’t.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple reconsiders that strategy so that more developers – and therefore, more applications – can use the service.

What do you think? Is the OneDrive rebrand a good move for Microsoft? Can Apple fix iCloud, or its always going to be a hot mess?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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(Son of) The Operating System that Wouldn’t Die

Microsoft extends security update support for Windows XP for an additional 15 months.

securityI’m not surprised, but in a way, I kinda am. It’s like a “B” horror movie from the 1950′s. Windows XP is an operating system that Microsoft desperately wants to kill, but the darn thing just won’t stay dead.

Microsoft announced today that due to customer concerns, it will further extend security update support for Windows XP by an additional 15 months. The new, new end of support/ end of life date for Windows XP is now  2015-07-14.

Its currently estimated that even by THAT time, 10% of all PC’s in medium to large businesses will still be running Windows XP. Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for its anti-malware and security products – System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune running on Windows XP as well as for Microsoft Security Essentials.

Users will need to insure that their PC’s remain secure after the  2015-07-14  deadline. That may involve a platform change. That may involve a hardware change. It likely will involve both at this point, if PC’s that fall within this category are intended to remain on main network lines within the organization.

To further help protect these machines that will live in a perpetual Zero-Day threat status after support ends, Microsoft and analysis firm Gartner recommend that IT departments segregate their XP-based PC’s onto a private network. This additional insulation will limit external exposure and prevent XP machines from becoming infected on the wider, more accessible, corporate network.

For Microsoft, the challenge is not continuing support, but helping their channel and other partners move up to more current versions of Windows. Windows XP was never meant to last for 15 years.   Windows 7 – the likely landing spot for those still running XP at this time – will be 6 years old at that time, and likely two or more whole versions back from the current version of Windows (anticipated to be Windows 9). While IT departments do need to just get over it and spend the money required to update their infrastructures, middleware and end points, shareholders need to understand the costs involved and not freak out when their profit margins flatten out due to increased operational charges. It’s at this point that Microsoft’s newest organizational structure and focus could be of help.   If Windows 9 does end up being free, AND if it runs on legacy equipment, it may be a lot easier to afford the required upgrades.

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East-Tec Eraser 2014

Keep your private information private with this important Windows utility.

eraser2014-200x175Online privacy is becoming a huge issue. With legislators so willing to give it away or to sell it to the highest paying lobbyist, and with so much malware around trying to steal it, its surprising that consumer computing is as popular as it is. If you want to be online, then you need to do something to protect yourself – over and above using a malware scanner. This is why I really like security applications like East-Tech Eraser 2014. This Windows-based security application could just save your bacon, and your private data.

East-Tec Eraser 2014 is a privacy protection app for Windows that helps secure your personal data, and your offline or online privacy by erasing all files that store evidence of your Internet activities. Over and above that, it helps keep your PC clean by deleting unnecessary data stored on your computer with or without your knowledge.

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East-Tec Eraser 2014 can remove your online tracks or internet history. You can delete evidence of the web pages you visited, and pictures you’ve viewed on the Internet. You can remove unwanted cookies, chat room conversations, you can deleted e-mail messages and files, and temporary files. You can even delete the Windows swap file, and clean out the Recycle Bin. The app is a complete file security tool. The best thing about East-Tec Eraser 2014 is that it works with all modern, popular browsers, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

East-Tec Eraser 2014 works with over 250 other online apps like AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, iTunes, WinAmp, Real Player, VLC Player, Skype, Dropbox, and Roxio. It works with Peer2Peer apps like BearShare, LimeWire, BitComet, and uTorrent. It also works with news readers and email apps like Windows Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Eudora.

East-Tec Eraser 2014 not only works with online enabled apps, but it works with your Windows operating system by wiping temporary and garbage files that get created by it and your other apps. Not only does this app protect your privacy, but it can speed up your PC as well.

The app is easy to use. The interface has GREATLY improved over the last version, and the price, while higher than I personally would like, is very reasonable, especially for what you’re getting. If you’re looking for a drive/OS utility as well as an online privacy protection app, East-Tec Eraser 2014 is a great choice.

download East-Tec Eraser 2014

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‘K… Unlock ‘Em if You Got ‘Em!

Major US carriers agree to unlocking principles.  Story at 11pm…

shutterstock_129802106I’ve been following this particular story for the past few weeks or so.  Quite honestly, this particular issue is near and dear to my heart as I cut my journalistic teeth on mobility – all forms of mobile computing to be precise – and its probably the one computing issue I really know the most about.  Today’s development is significant, as it brings the US closer to parity with other countries in the world when it comes to interoperability (but the true form of that is a whole other ball of wax for a later date…)

Anywho… the four major wireless carriers in the US – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as fellow CTIA member US Cellular, have all agreed to the following:
1.    To post their device unlocking policies on their websites
2.    To notify customers once their devices are eligible for unlocking
3.    To unlock mobile devices for customers after their service contract has expired
4.    To unlock prepaid mobile devices no later than 1 year after their initial activation
5.    To respond to unlock requests within 2 business days
6.    Military customers who become deployed can have their devices immediately unlocked upon providing the appropriate deployment paperwork

According to former NFL wide receiver and current CTIA President and CEO, Steve Largent, “…this agreement will continue to foster the world-leading range of devices and offerings that Americans enjoy today.”

While I applaud not only the wireless carriers and the CTIA for coming together on this, let’s not forget that carriers in the European Union have had similar policies in place for a while now.  Technologically, the US is behind the curve. This is a catch up move.

However, it is a significant and important development; and its one that I’m very glad came about. While this doesn’t supersede the restrictions in the DMCA that prevents cell phone owners from unlocking phones on their own, it will give cell phone users a clear understanding of when and how they can get their phones unlocked and if they will have to purchase what is commonly called a “burner phone” if and when they travel internationally before they’re eligible to unlock their current phone with their home-based carrier.  (that still doesn’t sit well with me, but its much better than what we had before).

The six, adopted unlocking principles, in their entirety, are:

1. Disclosure. Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.

2. Postpaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.

3. Prepaid Unlocking Policy. Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.

4. Notice. Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier’s website.

5. Response Time. Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.

6. Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy. Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers

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Keep your Windows PC safe with Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

ashampoo_antivirus_2014_logoIf there’s one thing that I really like, its options. There are a lot of different kinds of malware out there, and finding and USING a malware scanner that works the best for you is important. This is one of the reasons why I like Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014. It’s a really cool virus scanner for Windows.

There’s a lot of malware out there. A lot of it effects Windows PC’s and that’s a problem, because a lot of people use Windows PC’s.  However, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 makes computing a lot easier. The nice thing about it is that once the app is installed, you don’t have to configure it.  It blocks malware right out of the box.  If that’s not, “set it and forget it,” then I don’t know what is.

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If malware is found, it can be removed with little interaction from the user. In many cases, you won’t even know you got a bug. Malware is removed and removed fast.  Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 doesn’t sacrifice speed over security.  Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is fast and light weight.

The bad thing about bad guys is that they are constantly trying to come up with new ways to get to your data, financials and other valuable information.  Thankfully, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 has daily AV signature updates.  That way, you stay ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, getting malware on your PC appears to be a part of modern computing. However, with Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014, you can stay protected and malware free. With its daily signature updates and set it and forget it feature set, it protects your PC in the background with little or no intervention from you. Ashampoo makes some of the best software on the internet today, so trust Soft32 when we tell you this is one of the best apps in our catalog.

download Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

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Meet the new security solution Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

ashampoo_iconAshampoo the popular German software developer enters the battle for the security supremacy with their first anti-virus solution Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014. This is their first attempt to launch a full-featured antivirus on the market, a product that can face all the major security threats from the online domain. Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is the successor program of Ashampoo Anti-Malware, but unlike it ancestor, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is a true anti-virus which combines the Bitdefender and Emsisoft engines to help keep you safe online.

Featuring a sophisticated real-time protection with a good balance between security and resources needs, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is a light breeze in your computer. Just install it, start it and let it do its work without any external intervention.

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In terms of user interface, this anti-virus is extremely easy to use. Large buttong are well placed so you can easily access the main processes: scanning your computer, or running the bonus tools like the startup programs manager, Winsock layers viewer, hosts file examiner, or the web tracks cleaner which will monitor all the main browsers installed on your computer. For the ones that are not used with the classical light theme, you can choose a second dark one which is the opposite in terms of look.

Being at version 1.0.0.0, the application is not at its peak form, so you should expect some glitches even while the Quick Scan is running, and the reports are not quite precise. But overall Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is a capable tool with enough power to secure you home PC. At $24.99 1 year license (offer available until October 8th) and 10 days trial which can be extended to 40 days if you give them you email address, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is a powerful solution for your regular PC and can become a ferocious contender for the best anti-virus if the German developer will constantly improve it.

Highlights

  • - Real-time protection neutralizes attacks as they happen
  • - Behavior blocker monitors application behavior and also eliminates not yet classified threats such as zero-day exploits
  • - On-access guard effectively neutralizes infection attempts during file operations
  • - Multi-engine scanner with two scan engines for maximum accuracy
  • - Integrated self-protection to prevent program manipulation through malware
  • - Daily updates keep protection always up to date

download Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

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Malwarebytes Secure Backup – Protect and backup your data

mwbrKeeping your data safe is probably the one of the most important things a computer can do. Without your data, there really isn’t a reason to have or use a computer.  Its for this reason that having a backup strategy is important.  If I were you, I’d give serious consideration to Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It’s a backup program for Windows.

With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your files are backed up automatically to a secure server, according to a schedule that you set. Every version of a backed up file is archived. Every backed up file that is deleted from Malwarebytes Secure Backup is archived. Every file can always be retrieved, so you never have to worry about something being lost forever. With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your data is always, ALWAYS safe.

The app even backs up infected files; but thankfully, the app automatically scans your files with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware engine and cleans them.  Don’t worry about your data. Malwarebytes Secure Backup keeps it safe and clean.

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Many backup services backup your most current dataset and that’s about it. As items change, so does your backup set. That’s not the case with Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It backs up and archives every version of every file on your PC.  You’re not limited by the number of devices it backup, either.  It will backup most any device on your PC or network with just one license.

If you’re looking for a backup service or thinking of making a change, then you really need to give Malwarebytes Secure Backup a serious look. Its worth the cost and the time it takes to backup the data.

download Malwarebytes Secure Backup

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