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.


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, 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.


  • – 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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OUYA hits the gaming market for real

Since Nintendo released WiiU, Microsoft announced its new gaming console XBOX ONE and Sony is ready to deliver the new PS4, new developers are ready to hit the market with new gaming consoles. And what better way to become a well known competitor but to release a console using Android. This means low hardware requirements, a very active community that is eager to develop new games for any Android gadget and free to try products that offers the user a complete view of their quality. Boxer8 is the company responsible for the first gaming console based on Android operating system called Ouya.

Everything started as a Kickstarter project back in 2012 when Julie Uhrman decided it’s time for a change in the gaming industry. Along with designer Yves Béhar and Muffi Ghadiali as product manager, the project became an immediately hit in the Kickstarter community becoming the second highest-earning project. As a result, Ouya became reality and is already being shipped to the first costumers for the price of $99.


The great value of this gadget comes from its simplicity. A single gamepad and a small block almost the size of a Raspberry Pi brings your TV back to life in 1080p. The ‘free to try’ philosophy promoted for each game released on Ouya’s own marketplace means that you can try the game for free for a limited period of time and if you like it only then you can buy it. All you’ll need is a valid credit card, debit card or redeemable code. Flexibility is another strong point of this console. They are offering a free developing kit in order to give the chance for any game aficionado to develop and publish their own creations.

From the technical point of view, Ouya features a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage (expandable via USB), WiFi and Ethernet. You can download games, stream videos or music from, Crunchyroll, iheartradio, TuneIn, XBMC, Plex and Flixster in Full HD quality. An interesting fact is that the company encourages the user to unscrew the device and do some modding without losing the warranty.

The Ouya controller is similar in design with the Xbox controller featuring dual analogue sticks, a directional pad positioned under the left stick, 4 buttons (labeled O, U, Y and A) and the usual back bumpers and triggers. The single-touch touchpad in the center of the controller is the thing that differentiate both gamepads. It may be possible to use alternate controllers but only for compatible games.

On a market ruled by titanic black boxes Ouya is a small ray of light. It is the most user-friendly console on the market with an open minded character giving the user the chance to modify and even root it without voiding the warranty.

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Natural Hazards Notifications with Earth Alerts

earth-alertsEarthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, tropical cyclones, wildfires, landslides, are natural hazards from which you want to stay away. But what if there is an app that can monitor these hazards almost in real time? Nevertheless, this would be a solution for the ones living in dangerous areas. Especially if you live in the U.S., Earth Alerts is the perfect tool for taking in consideration the natural disasters that might occur in your area.

Earth Alerts is a one man project that started back in 2005. It is a single application for monitoring multiple types of natural hazard events using online resources provided by organizations such as the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Smithsonian Institution. All types of notifications, reports and images gathered in a single U.I., provides the user with enough information regarding natural hazards from his area of living.


Unfortunately the app provides full information only for the US territory, although there is an option to choose any location from around the globe, this is not sufficient to create a complete report. Using all kinds of public feeds, the app performs a cyclic update process at various time intervals. The drawback here is that sometimes the update process tends to be “permanent” without delivering the desired information especially if you choose another location outside US.

In case you are interested more on weather information, Earth Alerts is not the perfect solution for you because it does not provide an extensive weather data. The app includes only basic weather tracking, current conditions, local forecasts and radar/satellite imagery. But if you are fascinated by the power of nature or if you are interested of keeping track of natural hazards around the world, Earth Alerts is a suitable product.

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Xbox One and Only


Microsoft revealed their new multimedia console on May 21, 2013. Also known as the Durango project, the new console is the third iteration in the Xbox family. Officially named as Xbox One, this console brings the series to the next level of gaming experience, at least from the hardware point of view.

Unlike Xbox 360 which featured a PowerPC architecture, Xbox One comes with a x86 based one, making the backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games just a dream which will never come true. The processing speed will be determined by 8 GB of DDR3 RAM from which 3 GB will be reserved for apps and OS, the rest of memory being left for the actual games. The graphics unit is based on an AMD GCM architecture. Also the the new Xbox will not have a composite or component video output. The video and audio input and output will be combined into a HDMI 1.4 support which is ready for a 4K video resolution (3840×2160) and 7.1 surround sound output.

Microsoft went to a more simplified design for their new console, similar to PS3 featuring a two-tone “liquid black” finish and a boxy look. By all means, Xbox One is like a black box, with no replaceable components. Even the 500 GB hard drive cannot be changed or removed. The good thing about this design is that the console looks much more compact, with no moving parts. Even the Blu-Ray drive features a fixed retractable system for a more secure way of reading the discs.


In case you want to borrow some games from your friend, you should know that the game discs can be played on more than one console, but only after you pay a fee in order to unlock it on your console. That’s because the games are tied to both Xbox One console and Xbox Live account. Even if the game features only singleplayer you need to have 24 h internet access in order to play it.

The Kinect sensor is now part of the whole system. This means that Xbox One will not function without the sensor plugged in. The new Kinect uses a 1080p wide-angle view in comparison to the VGA resolution of the previous version, and has the ability to process a huge amount of data to read its environment. Therefore the sensor can now track up to 6 players at once, including their heart rate, and their gestures performed with the Xbox One controller.


The Xbox One controller maintains the overall look from the Xbox 360 design. If it works, why would you change it? The design of the directional pad has been changed to a four-way button while the battery compartment is slimmer. The big addition here are the triggers which will feature independent rumble motors which simulate directional vibrations. Imagine firing a gun with a trigger. On the xbox 360 gamepad you would get a vibration effect in the whole surface of the controller. But now, with the new technology, the vibration will focused only on the trigger.


A digital video recorder is the new component available in Xbox One, which empowers the user to record his gameplay. The user can also edit and share their video creations using built-in video editing tools. Unfortunately no one known at the moment if the DVR component will be able to record video from cable or satellite TV services.

The console is schedules to be released at the end of this year. Overall it seems that Microsoft will mark a new financial success with Xbox OneMore, and will be able to attract new users in their ecosystem, because their gimmick  is not just a gaming console, but more of a media center which  can easily compete against with other similar products like Apple TV and Google TV platform. More details and info will be presented exclusively at E3 2013.

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Is Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings HD still the king of RTS?

Back in 1997 Microsoft Studios published the Ensemble developed Age of Empires, a game that quickly garnered a sequel in 1999 with the release of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. There have been numerous sequels and spin-offs since the millennium with games such as Age of Mythology appearing on PC and ports appearing on both home consoles and handhelds. Yet nothing has approached the success of the original Age of Empires II.

ageHDheaderCritical and commercial success

The critical success of Age of Empires II has been quite astonishing. IGN ranked it in its top 10 PC games of all time, while its aggregate metacritic score was 92%. The sales have more than matched this critical success: in 1999 it was the 4th best selling game of the year – an astonishing feat when you consider it was released on September 30.

While sequels in the Age of Empires series have brought delight to fans around the world, Age of Empires II is still the one that is remembered most fondly, so it’s understandable that the announcement of an HD remake was met with considerable anticipation. Could the re-release live up to the original?

As good as it ever was

The good news is the gameplay hasn’t been tinkered with – it’s still the same great game. As well as high definition graphics the game also supports widescreen. Apart from these graphical upgrades the multiplayer experience has been improved thanks to Steam integration. The expansion pack, Age of Empires II; The Conquerors is also included, which adds more civilizations, units and technologies, as well as more gameplay modes.


Development issues

While Ensemble developed the original game, the studio has since become defunct. Thankfully, one of the lead developers from Ensemble, Matt Pritchard, headed the HD remake as a part of Hidden Path Entertainment. Despite the experience of the development team there have been teething issues. As people who pre-ordered the game managed to bag themselves a pre-release version, members of online forums began complaining of problems such as the game not loading properly and it crashing at random points. Thankfully a patch has already been released that has managed to address these problems.

History repeats itself

Considering the game is over a decade old many people may not have had the highest expectations when it came to commercial success – after all, nostalgia doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. However, after holding steady at number 3 on the pre-order charts, the game has managed to top the Steam best seller list, ensuring that a game that is still critically loved has also managed to do well financially.

While this HD remake will bring joy to hardcore fans that believe Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is the pinnacle of RTS gaming (especially when they find out that all the original cheat codes still work), convincing younger gamers of its appeal might be more tricky. There’s no doubt that it does look as if its aged when placed next to modern games, but luckily its budget price point should mean that plenty of newcomers to the franchise are willing to give the game the chance it deserves.

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Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products

Microsoft Merges Windows Live Messenger with Skype and Announces that Support for Windows XP ends in 365 days

On Monday 8th April Microsoft announced that support for Windows XP will stop in exactly 365 days. This announcement came at the same time Microsoft merged Windows Live Messenger with Skype. These recent announcements are part of the new strategy Microsoft is intending to follow in order to channel customers to their latest products including Windows 8.

These updates from Microsoft are certain to affect many businesses and home users. Following we look at how Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products and what you need to do to keep updated.


RIP Microsoft XP

Windows XP was originally launched in October, 2001. From April 8, 2014 Microsoft will officially cut off corporate support for Windows XP SP3, as well as Microsoft Office 2003. Once support is cut, Windows XP will no longer receive any new security, hot fixes and most importantly support.

Microsoft announced that come April 2014 any customers using XP will be doing so at their “own risk,” and that failing to update would likely be costly later on down the line. It is estimated that 40 percent of all PCs still run XP, so these changes are set to affect a large amount of customers.

Cutting off support is likely to have a much bigger impact on businesses, than it is on home users. Whereas home users can simply upgrade with little hassle, upgrading for businesses is much more complicated. Microsoft warned businesses that is can regularly take 18 to 32 months to go through the entire deployment phase for new operating systems.

The announcements have put major strains on many businesses still using XP. Many are simply refusing to upgrade to Windows 7, as there is no simple upgrade path. These changes are likely to cause major upset for many a business.

If it wasn’t obvious, Microsoft is using this opportunity to persuade customers to upgrade to Windows 8 stating that it offers cutting edge technology with a stronger interface.

For smaller companies, with one or several computers, updating their operating system will be a breeze. The problems occur for larger companies and if they’ve failed to select a new operating system by now, it may already be too late to beat the XP deadline.

Windows Live Messenger Merges With Skype

In October 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype. Ever since then, they have been working to replace WLM. And on the 8th April 2013, Windows Live Messenger, known to most as MSN Messenger, was finally retired – ending 14 years of loyal service.

The last few years has seen a rapid decline in the amount of people using Windows Live Messenger, mainly due to the success of Facebook’s instant messaging service. Microsoft will now focus on increasing the success of Skype.

If you still have an account with Windows Live Messenger, you can still use those same details to log in to Skype. Once logged in you’ll find a list of all your old contacts, which can then be merged into Skype.

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Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 will be pushed through Windows Update

Windows_update_iconFor the ones that still use Windows 7 on their PC’s, Microsoft decided is time to update their version of operating system with Service Pack 1. You may already have noticed that this pack has been released back in 9 February 2011, but this time Microsoft wants to automatically push the update for all users of Windows 7 through the Windows Update platform. While in the past the update was optional and had to be downloaded manually, from now on the system will automatically download and install it.

As bad as it may sound, actually this decision from Microsoft is a good one. That’s because SP1 contains a collection of security updates for your computer. In case you haven’t installed it yet, now you have to, in order to make your PC much safer than before.

Starting today, the installation will be available for all users that have the Automatic Update enabled. The update will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers except the ones from IT services. Any PC managed by Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or WSUS Server will not receive the update automatically. It has to be rolled out manually.

This move started by Microsoft, is a predicted one, as from April 9, Windows 7 without SP1 will not be supported anymore. In conclusion this step forward is imminent for the home and business users. It is an effort to get everybody on the right path and create a much more secure environment.

download Windows 7 with SP1

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BitTorrent and Sync

bittorrentBitTorrent Inc. has released a new application that allows users to securely sync folders to multiple devices using the BitTorrent protocol. The free application has no storage limits and can serve both as a public backup system and a shared drive. BitTorrent Sync is especially efficient for groups who need to share many large files over the Internet.

The latest release form BitTorrent Inc. is an exciting and innovative application that provides users with the ability to synchronize their folders to a wide range of devices, simply by implementing the BitTorrent protocol. What are the benefits of this new application? Well, for one there are no limitations when it comes to storage – which gives users the multiple benefits of using Sync for shared drive purposes and as a public backup system. Essentially, this means that users with the desire and the need to share files across various devices have access to a practical, speedy and reliable form of distribution.


If this sounds a tad familiar though, that’s because it is. BitTorrent is using similar technology to that of certain cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Skydrive. The difference, however, is pretty clear. This is simply that there isn’t any third-party that has access to the files that are being shared, the storage is effectively unlimited and transfer services are rapid. It’s about time that BitTorrent introduced a productive way to backup and synchronise files across various devices – as BitTorrent have never really enjoyed this kind of service until now.

Sync implements a peer-to-peer platform. This means that users of the program will rely on each other for the sharing of their files, as opposed to any centralized infrastructure. This will add to the already rapidly growing peer-to-peer market that has dominated the Internet. Statistically, peer-to-peer transfers take up over 40% of the data being transferred across the net. With the cost effectiveness of this platform, more and more content owners and distributors are taking advantage of it – meaning its market domination is only likely to grow.

Legal issues surrounding peer-to-peer transfer are complicated, as the files being transferred will often make reference to copyrighted content – this means that the implemented peer-to-peer platform is often said to be synonymous to piracy. BitTorrent has established a completely decentralized network with the intention of transferring files in an effective and practical way – which raises problems in relation to existing laws within the market. The law has raised issues in terms of the liability of the BitTorrent protocol. Regardless, the amount of users making use of peer-to-peer sharing networks continues to grow.


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