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August 2012


Review: ioSafe Solo G3 is a data tank

Slideshow_solo-g3_1Most people don't back up their files, and if they do, it's to a dinky USB stick that could, at most, survive cycle through the wash.


Or perhaps your priceless pictures and meticulously curated music collection is at the whim of an external hard drive, which would be toast in the event of a flood or fire.


Worried? If your stuff is that important to you, that you would freak out if a spring melt or forest fire wiped out your home, than a disaster-proof hard drive is the solution.


Meet the Solo G3 from ioSafe, a shelter for your stuff.


Nobody needs one of these to shuttle between the office and home, or the studio and your couch. This thing weighs a cinderblock-heavy 15 lbs., so it's safe to say it won't be going anywhere, quickly.


The unit has a locking mechanism too, so you can prevent this unit from falling victim to thieves. But the bad guys are you this drive's smallest woes.


The G3 is built to withstand practically whatever mother nature or the devil throws at it. The drive inside, not the unit itself.


Inside is a power adapter and a fanless interface, so don't think you could dunk one of these in water without having to strip it down to the hard drive to recover your data. But if, for some reason, a pipe bursts at home, this thing can survive 10 feet deep in water for up to three days in fresh or salt water.


Even after going for a swim, this thing didn't stop. 


Then there's the device's fire-proof rating. It can stand about half an hour while in the midst 1550 Farenheit for half an hour. Due to a fire ban in my region, I couldn't put this to the test. But check out this YouTube video of a similar backup drive if you don't believe ioSafe's claim.


Data is sent to and from the G3 quite quickly, even faster than some of the other, simpler external USB hard disks I've sampled using my computer's USB 2.0 interface. Then again, the G3 also supports USB 3.0 for even faster data transfer rates.


My only complaint is this thing's size, which means it'll take up a substantial footprint in your bedroom or office. But then again, you're not using this thing on a daily basis, are you? 
Cost: From $299 available here.


- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets


Atari and Microsoft breathe new life into classic games


What does the classic arcade video game Pong have in common with Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz? For one thing, they both turn 40 this year, but if you’ve got other suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

But back to Pong. It’s old enough now that if it were a Hollywood starlet, we’d be making a big deal about how good it still looks, and in that vein, Microsoft has teamed up with Atari to showcase how much fun Pong still is to play.

Eight classic Atari games have been re-released on the iconic game developer’s website, allowing anyone with an internet connection and a touch screen to play Asteroids, Centipede, Combat, Lunar Lander, Pong, Missle Command, Super Breakout or Yar’s Revenge.

Microsoft is using the venture to demonstrate the power of Internet Explorer 10 on the forthcoming Windows 8. The games will work on any HTML5-enabled browser, but IE10 users are promised better performance and an ad-free experience.  However you get there, all games are free to play.

Atari is also hoping to attract developers to create new games for the online arcade, so the selection of free games may grow by the time you buy your first Windows 8 device.

To play the games yourself, head over to http://www.atari-arcade.com/, and to read more on the project, check out Woot Studio's interview with Grant Skinner, the man behind it all.

-John Paul Hogan, MSN Tech & Gadgets

*Disclaimer: MSN is a division of Microsoft.


Virus claims you’ve been tagged in Facebook photos

Facebook-_scam_photo-bigWatch out – that notification sitting in your inbox, claiming you’ve just been tagged in a new photo on Facebook, could be a virus.

Security firm Sophos is warning Facebook users about a new Trojan that’s making the rounds, claiming that you’ve just been tagged in a photo.

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FAA to review in-flight gadget use

The U.S. authority that regulates all aspects of air travel is going to re-examine the use of tech gadgets aboard commercial aircraft.

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Evernote mates paper and cloud in unholy matrimony

Evernote, the company that stores all your documents in the cloud, has just tried to marry the digital world with the paper one. Meet the Evernote Smart Notebook. 

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Facebook finally updates lackluster iPhone, iPad app

The world's largest social network, Facebook, has finally updated its much-hated iOS app.

Previously, Facebook tried to take the HTML route with their mobile experience. One advantage was that using Facebook across different types of mobile devices was pretty much the same with a familiar layout.

But the app was garbage.

The old Facebook iOS app felt like it took forever to load, the newsfeed scrolled as slow as continental drift and photos loaded on a hit-and-miss basis, sometimes only in a low-rez mode where you would wonder if you had glaucoma.

God forbid you might try and click on a link that one of your friends posted on Facebook, as the app would pull up the page at the painful pace of bureaucratic change.

The new Facebook app is so much better, it's hard to imagine it came from the same company.

Facebook claims the app loads twice as fast, along with scrolling through your news feed and opening photos.

Whatever they've done, it makes using the Facebook app actually desirable.

While you're scrolling through the news feed, you'll receive notifications about your new status updates in an alert bar. Want to jump straight to their update?

Tap the bar and you're taken right here, quite quickly.

On the iPad version, the overall experience is much similar to what you'd find using Facebook on a normal computer.

To get the updated app, just download it through the App Store.

What do you think of the new Facebook app? Which improvements would you still like to see?

Facebook finally updates lackluster iPhone, iPad app


DayZ offers ultra-realistic zombie world

Had you heard of this before? DayZ is a massively multiplayer game set in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. The game, built atop the super-realistic ARMA II PC-based combat simulator, takes place in a 225 square kilometre world, complete with zombies, bandits and teams of players that trade with each other while trying to stay alive. 

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Nikon releases Android-powered camera

Almost all people use their phones to take pictures. And many of these phones are running the popular Android operating system.
But not often do you hear about a camera - not a phone, but a camera - running Android. Until now.
Nikon is rolling out the world's first Android-powered Wi-Fi camera, with hopes of making the camera (and your pictures) more connected with the web.
From the front, the Nikon S800c looks like any other silver-metallic point and shoot. It's small, slip and can fit in your pocket, though its 10x zoom can extend for tight shots and other types of closeups.
But flip this camera over and it looks less like a camera and more like a phone, with a 3.5-inch screen coating the rear.
The OLED touchscreen is small by today's smartphone standards, where massive 4.X-inch displays dominate, and anything smaller is just useless. And if you're using this screen to edit and filter the heck out of your world-class photography skills, this screen might be a little small.
It ships running Android 3.2, though details are still a little scant on how much RAM the camera will sport, and what kind of processor makes Android chug along.
Regardless, the camera will let you download apps from Google's Play app store. So theoretically, you'll be able to snap fantastic photos with a proper camera and upload those shots to Instagram and Facebook right away, while your friends are still trying to snap a photo for the umpteenth time on their iPhone or BlackBerry as they try to get the lighting just right.
The S800c, however, is still a camera at heart. Inside is a 16-megapixel image sensor designed to put images from smartphones to shame. The lens is also has optical image stabilization - a feature you won't find on any other smartphone.
So with Wi-Fi to connect to the wireless networks and GPS to track and map the location of your photos this is the most powerful camera attached to a phone ever, rather, the most Android-friendly camera.
The Nikon S800c is set to go on sale in September 2012 for $380.
Either we'll see more cameras running Android, or smartphones will be made with better cameras.
But thanks, Nikon, for forging ahead with this.
- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Nikon releases Android-powered camera

How to hide message read receipts in Facebook

A new web browser plugin lets you prevent friends from seeing when you read their messages sent over Facebook.

The plugin, called Facebook Undetected, prevents the read receipts in Facebook’s instant messaging service from showing up.

The read receipts are somewhat of an annoyance to some users. If you sent the message, there’s nothing better than the reassurance you’ll feel when your friend actually “read” the message you sent them.

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Site offers to unsubscribe you from daily deal emails

Unsubscribe_dealsSometimes, I think they should call daily deals ‘daily annoyances.’

At first, I subscribed to one daily deals site because I had a momentary lapse in judgement. Then, the emails never stopped.

Every morning I, like many of you, receive an assortment of emails offering me discounts on everything from botox to laser hair removal to a round of golf.

A purchase was made on that last deal, a mistake as large as the cloud surrounding Tiger Woods’ reputation. More on that later.

Bottom line, these emails need to stop. Fortunately, I’ve come across Unsubscribe Deals.

The site asks for your email address and pledges to stop you from receiving emails from daily deal websites like Living Social and Groupon.

Brampton_golf_courseAfter entering your email address, select the sites you want to stop receiving deals from. Then, Unsubscribe Deals will work to remove you from the respective service’s mailing list.

If, for some reason, you want to Woot!, you can leave them unchecked from the list of services you never want to hear from them again.

You’ll also be able to sign up for ‘personalized’ deals, which I suggest you avoid doing to prevent yourself from making another daily deal mistake.

Which reminds me of the time I played golf on a course in which I could hardly tell the difference between a sand trap and the green. What do you expect for $18?

Have you had any bad experiences with daily deals? 

* Video: How to score the best hotel deals

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets




Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.