Archive for February 5, 2018

Microsoft Is Giving Away A 1 Month Xbox Game Pass Just For Signing Up For Microsoft Rewards

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Starting today, Microsoft will be offering any consumer who signs up for Microsoft Rewards between February 5-28, a one-month Xbox Game Pass. New joiners will get unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games on Xbox One. With games added every month, users will always have something new to play and can continue collecting Microsoft Rewards points with each Bing search or by shopping for Xbox games and movies in the Microsoft Store.


There are three easy steps to claim the free month of Xbox Game Pass:

  • Sign up for Microsoft Rewards using this link
  • Claim a code for one free month of Xbox Game Pass
  • Redeem the code online

Microsoft Rewards enables users to earn rewards for doing what they already do online – searching the web with Bing and purchasing Xbox systems, games, subscriptions, accessories and more from the Microsoft Store. This means users can now cover the cost of a monthly Xbox Live subscription by simply using Bing for their everyday searches, or claim a gift card to put toward the purchase of a new Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console.


Bell Coalition Who Wants To Stop Piracy Gets Slapped Silly By Those Who Say They Want To Dismantle Net Neutrality

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Well, the coalition of telcos and others who want to stop piracy by blocking access to sites that they deem to be pirate websites just got introduced to reality in a big way. According to Michael Geist, thousands of people have hit them via the CRTC with submissions that a very much against this idea:

As of this morning, there are over 4,200 interventions on the CRTC site. To put these numbers in perspective, there were more objections to website blocking in less than a week than interventions to the CRTC’s much-promoted Let’s Talk TV consultation over several months. What makes the public response particularly noteworthy is that the submissions are not the result of an organized campaign. OpenMedia is inviting Canadians to comment through its website, but these are not its submissions (which will presumably come later in a group response). In fact, in skimming through the responses (JF Mezei helpfully pulled the first 3,800 together), it is striking how while the sentiment remains the same for the vast majority of submissions (do not approve website blocking), the individual responses are largely unique. Indeed, some submissions identify many technical, legal, and policy concerns with the proposal (for example, hereherehereherehere).

This should make it clear to Bell and those who blindly follow Bell that they’re on the wrong side of this issue. If they were smart, they’d back away from this right now. But they’re not going to do that and instead, they’re going to push ahead and face some epic blowback.

Sucks to be them.

New Mac Malware That Mines Cryptocurrencies Appears Via MacUpdate

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

MalwareBytes has put up a blog post detailing a new piece of malware that uses your computer to mine cryptocurrencies. The kicker, it’s being distributed through MacUpdate which is a site that has been known to distribute malware before:

 The malware was spread via hack of the MacUpdate site, which was distributing maliciously-modified copies of the Firefox, OnyX, and Deeper applications. According to a statement posted in the comments for each of the affected apps on the MacUpdate website, this happened sometime on February 1.

Now I abandoned MacUpdate years ago because this sort of thing kept happening to them. But they’re still around and not everyone is in the know. Thus this continues to be an issue. MalwareBytes has recommendations on how not to get pwned:

There are multiple takeaways from this. First and foremost, never download software from any kind of “download aggregation” site (a site that acts like an unofficial Mac App Store to let you browse for software). Such sites have a long history of issues. In the case of MacUpdate, back in 2015 they were modifying other people’s software, wrapping it in their own adware-laden installer. This is no longer happening, but in 2016, MacUpdate was similarly used to distribute the OSX.Eleanor malware.

Instead, always download software directly from the developer’s site or from the Mac App Store. These are not guarantees, and can still get you infected with malware, adware, or scam software. But your odds are better. Be sure to check around to make sure the software is legitimate before downloading, but do not give full credence to ratings or reviews on third-party sites or the Mac App Store, as those can be faked.

Second, if you have downloaded a new application and it seems not to be functioning as expected—such as not opening at all when you double-click it—be suspicious. Consider scanning your computer with security software. Malwarebytes for Mac will detect this malware as OSX.CreativeUpdater.

Finally, be aware that the old adage that “Macs don’t get viruses,” which has never been true, is proven to be increasingly false. This is the third piece of Mac malware so far this year, following OSX.MaMi and OSX.CrossRAT. That doesn’t even consider the wide variety of adware and junk software out there. Do not let yourself believe that Macs don’t get infected, as that will make you more vulnerable.

This is good advice that everyone, Mac user or not, should follow.

Feds Pull Back From Full Scale Equifax Probe…. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Reuters is reporting that the new head of the CFPB (aka: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) is pulling back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax failed to protect consumer data in its breach affecting 145.5 million Americans.

All together now…. WTF?

This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. About half the American population gets affected by the most epic pwnage the world has ever seen and the US Government doesn’t want to step in and protect their citizens? That’s just mind blowing. It basically means that there is no hope whatsoever when it comes to holding companies who get pwned accountable for getting pwned. Which means that the average person is pretty much on their own. Hopefully Americans remember that when they go to the polls is their mid-term elections this November.

BluOS Makes Three Significant Announcements

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Lenbrook International, developer of the BluOS wireless hi-res audio streaming technology made three significant announcements today.

The first announcement centers around their integration partnership with iPort and support for the iPort Surface Mount with Buttons and xPRESS Audio Keypad. Built into the next BluOS software release, the iPort integration will provide simple and direct access to key music functions including play/pause, track forward, volume control, and the ability to toggle through BluOS pre-sets.

The iPort Surface Mount with Buttons brings the richness of the BluOS app together with hard-button controls to create one, elegant command center for your music. Easy to install, easy to connect, and easy to operate, BluOS’ integration with iPort reinforces the trend of the accessible smart home. Using an iPad, the Surface Mount connects directly with BluOS enabled speakers and systems via Direct IP and can be fully programmed to work as the main control hub in popular control systems including Crestron, Control4, ELAN, RTI, and URC.

The xPRESS Audio Keypad is wireless, battery powered, and can be easily installed on any wall or magnetic surface and used as a convenient hand-held remote. Set up is simple with the iPort Connect App for iOS, making it easy connect to BluOS enabled devices via Wi-Fi, and giving users quick access to the critical functions of their music system. The xPRESS Audio Keypad is also decora-friendly and seamlessly disappears into most interior designs.

Custom installers, dealers, and homeowners can enjoy this integration later this month by upgrading to the next version of BluOS software and the latest apps for smartphone, tablet, and desktop.

Second, they announced their integration with Lutron Electronics and their leading Caseta Pro Wireless, HomeWorks QS, and Radio RA2 smart home lighting systems. Available later this month, the new BluOS software will give anyone in a connected home one-touch control of any BluOS enabled speaker or stereo system using a Lutron Pico Remote Control for Audio or any supported Lutron keypad.

Adding hi-res audio streaming and wireless multi-room control to Lutron lighting scenes is a perfect match for homeowners who are passionate about music. Lutron’s Pico Remote Control for Audio lets you play, pause, skip tracks, adjust the volume, and toggle through BluOS pre-sets, quickly and conveniently without using any other app or device. Whether you’re listening to coffeehouse jazz in the morning, or a dinner playlist with guests, your lighting and music can be combined together for a more intimate listening experience.

When a BluOS enabled speaker or system is connected to a Lutron Controller, a smart home device that uses Lutron’s proprietary ClearConnect wireless technology, playback commands can be sent from any Lutron keypad to any BluOS device inside the home. Both set up easily, either by a “DIY” homeowner or professional installer, and both are designed to work with the leading home automation systems alongside other smart home devices connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Custom installers, dealers, and homeowners can enjoy this integration later this month by upgrading to the next version of BluOS and downloading a BluOS CI setup utility.

Finally company announced major updates for its integration with the leading home automation systems, Control4, Crestron, and ELAN. Customer installers can now build and program integration systems with a trusted, full-featured music app that delivers lightning-fast hi-res streaming performance for all BluOS enabled speakers, systems, and multi-zone amplifiers.

By strategically aligning with the leaders in smart home automation, and through continued collaboration and development, BluOS will expand on these platforms and further its commitment to a professional, hi-res audio solution that can be trusted by dealers and integrators. Each driver is certified and has passed interoperability tests to provide seamless integration of BluOS functions including full playback controls, browsing and searching music streaming services, local input selection, access to pre-sets, and play queue management.


Working closely with ELAN’s development team and being one of the first to implement their new media renderer interface and streaming protocol, the new BluOS driver is currently in development and will bring a cutting-edge user interface and transport controls to the ELAN home automation system. Not only does this enhance music experiences for homeowners, it also means that a hi-res music distribution system can be perfectly integrated into existing control systems and work alongside other connected smart home devices with multi-level navigation. A working system will be on display at ISE with features that include a rich interface with album artwork, playback and volume controls, play queue management, and pre-set selections. 


With the new BluOS driver, version 2.8.1 available now in Control4’s Online Driver Database, Control4 home automation systems can be integrated with any BluOS enabled device from NAD Electronics or Bluesound Hi-Res Multi-room Streamers to provide blazing-fast response times for homeowners with little to no lag and full access to BluOS functions and commands. Additionally, certified Control4 installers and dealers can integrate BluOS into smart home projects with confidence that it will offer the best hi-res music experience. This new driver will be on display at ISE, with future developments and updates forthcoming that include new features and enhancements.


Completely re-designed and built specifically for the future of the custom integration market, the new BluOS driver for Crestron, version 2.0, utilizes the latest API enhancements and delivers exceptional functionality for Crestron’s control interfaces including touch screens, handheld remote controls, wireless keypads, and the Control4 app for mobile. Through rigorous field testing with certified Crestron installers, the driver was developed with the integrator in mind and provides support for browsing local content and music services, selecting inputs and pre-sets, managing the play queue, and direct access to playback controls.

BluOS is offered in a wide variety of hi-res audio solutions that meet the needs of music-loving homeowners and installers alike, with products ranging from NAD Electronics’ traditional hi-fi components and custom rack-mounted multi-zone amplifiers, to Bluesound’s award-winning line of all-in-one wireless speakers and streaming components. A premium music operating system and software recognized by the industry’s top brands and installers, BluOS is vertically integrated into the devices’ advanced hardware architecture. This allows custom integrators to install end-to-end solutions that offer rich, intuitive music experiences and custom control applications that seamlessly integrate with popular integration systems.

The Control4 and Crestron drivers are available now in their dealer portals, while the ELAN driver is scheduled to be released in the near future. All BluOS CI drivers are also available for download at and on under each support BluOS enabled product.



Apple Launches Repair Program For iPhone 7’s That Suffer From “No Service” Problems

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

The hits keep coming on the quality front for Apple with the announcement from the company of a repair program for a “small percentage” of iPhone 7’s that suffer from “no service” problems. In other words, the phone is unable to receive cellular service even though there is cellular service available.

As an aside, this is the same company who said that there was a “small percentage” of iPhone 6S models that had issues with the battery, and here we are with “batterygate” in full swing. But I digress.

This repair program applies to phones made between September 2016 and February 2018 and sold in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, and the U.S. This document tells you how to determine whether your phone is on the list and should be repaired. If you’re already paid for a repair, the company will reimburse you.

All of these quality issues are clearly symptomatic of a larger problem at Apple. One that I hope the company is willing to invest time and effort to remedy as it really looks bad for the folks at Apple Park at the moment.

HP Accelerates Democratization Of 3D Printing With Breakthrough Full Color Platform

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Today HP Inc. expanded its 3D printing portfolio with the introduction of its new Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series of 3D printers, the industry’s first 3D printing technology to enable manufacturers to produce engineering-grade, functional parts in full color, black or white – with voxel control – in a fraction of the time of other solutions. Depending on configuration and color preference, the Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series is available starting in the $50,000s, enabling small- to medium-sized product development teams and design businesses, entrepreneurs, and universities and research institutions to access HP’s industry leading Multi Jet Fusion printing technology.

HP’s new Jet Fusion 300 / 500 3D printing solution
for functional prototyping and short run production

The new Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series complements HP’s existing industrial-grade Jet Fusion 3200/4200/4210 3D solutions which deliver the lowest cost per part2 and are designed for manufacturing environments. With this portfolio expansion, HP is providing users of its Multi Jet Fusion solutions the ability to prototype and produce new designs and applications on the same platform and stay ahead with a future-ready technology for voxel control beyond color.

HP’s unique ability to control part properties at the individual voxel level enables the design and production of previously unconceivable parts and is now available, for the first time, in full color. Whether in healthcare, automotive, consumer goods, or other industries; or for entrepreneurs, designers, or university researchers with the next great idea; the potential of new 3D printing applications is enormous. HP is already engaging in the co- development of new color applications with universities and businesses around the world including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Yazaki Corp., and Youngstown State University, amongst others.

Innovation for Small- to Medium-Sized Development Teams, Businesses and Educators

In addition to providing voxel-level control, the new Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series of 3D printers has a compact design, enhanced workflow solution, and the world’s first integrated and automated materials delivery system, enabling greater unattended operation, ease of use, and dramatically increasing production efficiency and output. The Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series also supports the three leading color file formats (OBJ, VRML, and 3MF) enabling designers to reliably and easily produce the parts they want without the inconvenience of file conversion or data corruption.

The HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series offerings include:

  • HP Jet Fusion 340 (Black and White) / 380 (Color): for customers who have smaller part-size needs or who commonly print fewer parts per build.
  • HP Jet Fusion 540 (Black and White) / 580 (Color): with a bigger build size than the 300 series for customers who have larger part-size needs or heavier production demands.


Building on HP’s Open Approach to Materials Development

The HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 3D printers will launch with a new material, HP 3D High Reusability CB PA 12. Parts using this material will have mechanical properties similar to the HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 material from HP’s industrial solutions.

Leveraging HP’s unique Open Platform for materials and applications development, HP will work with its growing materials ecosystem to grow the material breadth and drive costs down. The Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series will ultimately support similar materials as the Jet Fusion 3200/4200/4210, and also support unique materials that enable color or other voxel-level capabilities.

The HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series of 3D printers is available for order today and will begin shipping in the second half of 2018. For complete details and technical specifications please visit

Partner Program Delivers Broader Capabilities and Targets New Resellers

As HP expands its product portfolio with the Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series, today it also highlighted the evolution of its global 3D printing reseller program – the HP Partner First 3D Printing Specialization program – including a variety of new options provided to partners selling HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions. As HP continues to increase its market reach and builds out its global go-to-market structure, it is now enabling solutions providers with specific manufacturing industry expertise, global digital transformation, and IT solutions expertise to deliver Multi Jet Fusion technology for customers around the world.

HP today also unveiled a new collaboration with Dassault Systèmes, a leading provider of 3D design software with millions of users in more than 140 countries, to empower a new era of product design innovation by entrepreneurs, makers, students, and businesses. The two companies intend to optimize Dassault Systèmes’ industry-leading SOLIDWORKS 3D design and engineering applications to take advantage of the unique voxel- level capabilities of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions.

Changing the Way the World Designs and Manufactures

Attendees at the SOLIDWORKS World 3D design conference have the opportunity to experience the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end solutions for every phase of the product design process at HP’s booth #301. In addition to the HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series, HP announced new workstation, VR, and 3D Printing and Scanning products, and services which are also on display at the show.