Archive for March 8, 2017

Unleash the power of Alexa and the Amazon Echo Dot with VAUX

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

Amazon’s Alexa and Echo Dot have made the potential for a “digital assistant,” a reality in every consumer’s home. To help elevate the Dot’s home automation capabilities, Ninety7, a technology lifestyle company, today announced VAUX – the first battery-powered speaker for the Amazon Echo Dot (second generation). VAUX allows users to “set their Dot free,” and enjoy portability and increased audio quality in a modern, stylish design.


Available for $49 pre-order at, VAUX will ship to consumers in early April 2017 featuring:

  • A powerful speaker that enriches the audio quality of the Amazon Echo Dot. Whether listening to music or an audio book, or asking Alexa questions, VAUX enhances the sound quality and performance of the Dot, for a richer user experience. Additionally, users can connect their mobile devices or tablets via a 3.5mm jack and instantly use VAUX to upgrade their Dot to a portable sound system.
  • Portability. Users can now unleash the functionality of the Dot beyond the reach of the power cable – because, after all, we move around our homes. With a rechargeable battery, VAUX creates a companion home-command center as portable as your cell phone: order pizza from Dominos in the kitchen; grab the VAUX and listen to an audio book in the bath before heading to bed, set the alarm and request your favorite music to help you sleep.
  • Style. As an integral part of the user’s home, VAUX was created with both aesthetics and utility in mind. Ninety7 believes that there should be no distinction between electronics and décor –VAUX complements its environment, visually and functionally.

VAUX is an easy and affordable way to make the Amazon Dot even more powerful and ubiquitous in the home. VAUX is fast to set up and simple to use – it securely holds the Amazon Dot creating a sophisticated home -command center for less than $50. With an average of 6 hours of “cordless use,” off of 5000mAh lithium battery power, VAUX creates the right environment for extended periods of productivity, relaxation, discovery and entertainment.


Scotiabank Donates $150K To Ladies Learning Code

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Scotiabank has made a $150,000 donation to Ladies Learning Code and more specifically, its Girls Learning Code programming, which covers topics from HTML and CSS to 3D printing and hardware hacking.


This donation aligns well to the Bank’s focus and commitment to digital and their philanthropic strategy in support of young people in the community. Their donation will enable thousands of girls across Canada, to learn what they are possible of creating with technology and to ensure that they are aware and equipped and aware of the exciting roles that are available in the digital landscape. As part of their donation, they are also supporting national Girls Learning Code Day on May 13, 2017.


Kronos Named A Great Place To Work In Canada…. And More

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd
Today, on International Women’s Day, workforce management software provider Kronos Incorporated announced that it has been named to the list of 2017 Best Workplaces for Women following a thorough and independent analysis conducted by Great Place to Work Canada.
Additionally, in honour of the International Women’s Day 2017 campaign theme, #BeBoldforChange, the Kronos Women in Business team today released a video montage of Kronite women explaining what Being Bold for Change means to them both professionally and personally.

Some key facts:

  • Kronos ranks 16 on the 50 Best Workplaces for Women list, which requires that eligible organizations have a minimum of 50 Canadian women employees, provide a male/female breakdown of their employee population by job level, and have at least a 90 per cent positive response to the statement, “I am treated fairly regardless of my gender.”
  • The list of Best Workplaces for Women is based on direct, anonymous feedback from employees of the organizations that were surveyed, and Great Place to Work confirms that the survey data has a 90 per cent confidence with a plus or minus five per cent margin of error.
  • To be eligible for the Best Workplaces for Women list, Kronos was first certified as a great workplace by Great Place to Work. In addition to Canada, Kronos is certified as a Great Place to Work in several other regions around the world, including Great Place to Work in Australia, Great Place to Work in India, and Great Place to Work in the U.S., where the company is headquartered.
  • Kronos employs more than 5,000 Kronites worldwide and is actively hiring with nearly 300 Kronos job openings.

Pretty impressive if you ask me as clearly for Kronos, International Women’s Day isn’t an afterthought for them.

Pebby Pet Companion Launched On Kickstarter

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

Pebby – an innovative in-home, smart robotic pet companion system that allows owners to monitor, interact with and entertain their pet(s) anytime, anywhere from around the world launched today.


A combination of a smart collar and a Wi-Fi remote controlled durable ball (a.k.a. the Pebby ball) that follows a pet around, Pebby will help put pet owner’s mind at ease as it instantly tracks their furry loved ones activities and directly sends key insights about their behavior and health to the included Pebby companion app.

Consumers can pre-order Pebby starting today on Kickstarter at:


RBC Allows Customers To Send Money Using Siri

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

I’ve been waiting for the ability to use Siri to order coffee from Starbucks seeing as you can do a whole lot using the virtual assistant found on every iPhone. That day isn’t here yet. But RBC has given its customers to send money using Siri. Via an update to their mobile app, you can say something like “Hey Siri, send John $20” and it will use the Interac e-transfer service to get the job done. For the paranoid out there, the payment is secure and protected by TouchID. Pretty cool. This is a first for Canada and you can expect more banks in Canada to jump on board really quickly.

Now Starbucks, about ordering coffee using Siri……

Got A WD My Cloud Box? Unplug It NOW

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re the proud owner of a Western Digital cloud box, I’d advise you to unplug it right now. Why? Apparently, they can be easily hijacked from across the internet or network and there’s no fix for this at present. If that’s not bad enough, the firmware of these devices also has cross-site request forgery vulnerabilities. In English, that means that a malicious webpage can potentially make a victim’s browser connect to a My Cloud device on the network and compromise it. Once that happens, the device and the data on it is pwned.

Here’s a video of the pwnage in progress:

Affected devices include the following:

  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud)
  • 2.11.157 (My Cloud EX2)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud EX2 Ultra)
  • 2.11.157 (My Cloud EX4)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud EX2100)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud EX4100)
  • 2.11.157 (My Cloud Mirror)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud Mirror Gen2)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud PR2100)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud PR4100)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud DL2100)
  • 2.21.126 (My Cloud DL4100)

News of this #EpicFail came from SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab which published an advisory on Tuesday after someone named Zenofex went public with full details of the flaws. Here’s the kicker: SEC Consult warned WD back in January that it had uncovered holes in the My Cloud firmware, and gave the vendor 90 days to fix the bugs before it would reveal its findings to the world. Clearly that never happened. But it’s a safe bet with all this negative press that Western Digital is going to fix this real bloody quick. Which is a shame as it should never get to this point before companies do the right thing.

ZTE Smacked By US Feds To The Tune Of $1.19 Billion

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2017 by itnerd

The news surfaced today that Chinese smartphone vendor ZTE is $1.19 billion lighter in the wallet today. Apparently they reached a settlement with the US Government because they got caught breaking sanctions and selling electronics to Iran and North Korea:

Starting no later than January 2010 and continuing through April 2016, ZTE conspired to evade the long-standing and widely known U.S. embargo against Iran in order to obtain contracts with and related sales from Iranian entities, including entities affiliated with the Iranian Government, to supply, build, operate, and/or service large-scale telecommunications networks in Iran, the backbone of which would be U.S.-origin equipment and software. 

As a result of the conspiracy, ZTE was able to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with and sales from such Iranian entities.  Additionally, ZTE undertook other actions involving 283 shipments of controlled items to North Korea with knowledge that such shipments violated the EAR.

Shipped items included routers, microprocessors, and servers controlled under the EAR for national security, encryption, regional security, and/or anti-terrorism reasons.  In addition, ZTE engaged in evasive conduct designed to prevent the U.S. government from detecting its violations. 

Oh. I should also note that when the feds started looking into this, ZTE apparently lied to them. That never ends well. I’m pretty sure that this is also going to put a dent in ZTE’s attempts to get a bigger share of the smartphone market in the US as these optics will really suck. Here’s hoping that ZTE keeps their nose clean going forward because ticking off the US is likely not a good idea in this current political climate.