Hot Tech News for December 2013

technology_gadget_2013While we do like to have a bit of fun here at the North Star IT Blog, and will again in just a few paragraphs, from time to time more serious issues crop up, and this seems the appropriate place to address them. For example, a new threat to the security of your system may be not too far off in the future, as the Law of Unintended Consequences rears its head once again…

A recent article from NPR, titled “Even Disconnected Computers may Face Cyberthreats,” simply unplugging an infected machine from your system, the first step recommended by cyber security experts, may not be enough to protect your network. The threat has develop as an unintended consequence of research into improving underwater communication, and may make it possible for disconnected machines to communicate with others still on the network by what are called “covert” means, using internal speakers and microphones to cross the “air gap” between them. Huh?

According to the article, the potential threat has far reaching ramifications, affecting not just commercial networks, but military networks as well.

Digital Retail and SkyDrive for iPhone

The concept of a brick-and-mortar business may be undergoing a radical face lift, to the extent we will not recognize it in the not too distant future. Thanks to eBay and three adventurous retailers in a popular San Francisco mall, shoppers are able to purchase products digitally, even though they are “at the mall.” The new concept has been tagged a “digital storefront,” and consists of nothing more than touch screen monitors, labeled “connected glass,” embedded in the windows of the “store.” Read more here, “Malls of the Future.”

Last but not least on the somewhat serious side of things, for all of you businesses running Windows systems on your desktop machines and servers, but are having trouble staying in touch with your iPhone and iPad loving employees, Microsoft has developed a new app that integrates smoothly between their cloud storage service, SkyDrive, and the iOS7 operating system.

More Cool Gifts for Geeks 2013

Moving on to happier news, the Christmas buying season is upon us and, while we’ve offered guidance for gift buying for your favorite geek, we simply had to mention another article from our friends at, “Mobile Keyboards: Know When to Fold ‘Em.” Here, author Ross Rubin offers his impressions of the ever-growing assortment of folding Bluetooth keyboards available for mobile devices, such as Smartphones and smaller table computers. While certainly not a comprehensive list of every mobile keyboard on the market today, you will receive a few valuable hints and insight into what to look for – and what to be wary of.

Want to know what NOT to buy your favorite geek this holiday season? Check out this article, “When Stars Misalign: The Worst Celebrity Tech Endorsements,” at From Lady Gaga to David Beckham to Bill Gates, these prominent folks, people we see in the news with sometimes annoying regularity, somehow really know how to make a mistake when it comes to endorsing a product. Feel free to take a look around the website though, for some much more informative reviews and other valuable information about the tech, and high-tech, available this season.

Do you feel like you’re on a bit of a treadmill at work these days? Well, for those of you looking to get a little exercise to reduce stress and maybe lose some weight, you can make being on the treadmill at work a reality – with the Treadmill Desk from LifeSpan Fitness. With electric height adjustment and Bluetooth enabled, the appliance allows you to work and exercise at the same time. Who knew “being on a treadmill” at work could be good for you?

One of the coolest new pieces of tech we’ve seen lately is this offering from Skully Helmets, a truly high-tech piece of safety gear for motorcyclists which includes a heads-up display with a rearward looking camera. The idea here is that all riders will be able to keep their eyes on the road ahead, without having to check behind the road behind them by looking over their shoulder. The helmets also include GPS data, with voice instruction, if desired. Take a look at the 48 second video and – be prepared to be amazed!

Check out other posts on tech buying for this Christmas season at the North Star IT Blog:

· Guide to Buying a Smartphone

· Tips on Buying an Android Tablet

· Best Holiday Gifts for Geeks 2013

The network experts at North Star are here to help you with all of your Denver IT support needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your IT service request for help with your operating system, apps, servers, or any other issues you may have.