Omate Crowdfunds Smart Watch in 1 Day

In just one day, Omate's smart watch has raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter. Wearable technology is becoming more popular, especially in the form of watches and glasses, and the Omate TrueSmart is a prime example of that.

Omate's TrueSmart went up for funding on Wednesday, and by the following morning it had received $160,000, which surpassed its $100,000 goal. Unlike many projects that reach a crowdfunding site, Omate has already put together a working prototype of the TrueSmart, which likely increased its ability to attain backers.

A Tough Market

Throughout the past year, many wearable tech projects have tried to obtain funding either through crowdfunding sites or traditional venture capitalists. Although many of them have either failed or have resulted in sub-par devices, the Omate TrueSmart could end up being successful.

Omate is up against stiff competition from established companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung that are all working their way into the wearable technology market. In fact, Omate put up its project just one week before Samsung is expected to reveal its Galaxy Gear smart watch.

Larger technology companies have yet to come out with watches, but many analysts expect them to have similar features to the Omate TrueSmart. Attaining a large enough audience when going up against international powerhouses such as Samsung will be Omate's most significant challenge.

Wearable Tech 2.0

The first generation of wearable technology devices have been relatively useless to most customers, which has resulted in many of them becoming novelty products instead of mainstream devices. smart watches such as the Pebble and CooKoo have relied on phone connectivity via Bluetooth for most of their features, but the TrueSmart operates differently.

Unlike the devices currently on the market, Omate has developed the TrueSmart so that it will work as a standalone Android device that operates without connecting to a smartphone....

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Teens Crave Digital Privacy, Too

Teenagers crave privacy -- and it's no different when it comes to their data. So says a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The group reports that teens with mobile devices have embraced app downloading -- but many teen app users have taken steps to uninstall or avoid apps over concerns about their privacy.

"Location information is considered especially sensitive to teen girls, as a majority of them have disabled location tracking features on cell phones and in apps because they are worried about others' access to that information," Pew reports.

Nail in the Coffin

We asked Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgins for his thoughts on the study. He told us the Pew report is another nail in the coffin of the myth that young people don't care about privacy.

"The majority of teen users have avoided apps because of privacy concerns," Higgins said. "That should be a major wake-up call to mobile developers that incorporating privacy by design is not just important to protect the rights of their users, but also for their own bottom line."

Here are some quick statistics to paint a picture: Fifty-eight percent of all teens have downloaded apps to their cell phones or tablet computers and 51 percent of teen app users have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, 26 percent of teen app users have uninstalled apps because they learned they were collecting personal information that they didn't wish to share. And 46 percent of teen app users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phones or in apps because they were worried about the privacy of their information.

Teens and Social Media Privacy

Many teens ages 12 to 17 report that they usually figure out how to manage content sharing and privacy settings on their own, according to Pew, but 70 percent of...

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After Sony Shares Plans, ESPN Shopping Internet TV Deals

The Internet TV talks are heating up. The latest news comes from the Walt Disney Co. According to Bloomberg, Disney's ESPN sports network is in talks to offer its programming on Internet TV services like the one Sony announced last week.

Bloomberg quoted ESPN president John Skipper saying the Internet TV provider would have to pay as much as or more than cable and satellite services to get its content. He said Internet TV services would have to buy "the whole suite of products. We're not going to offer one-offs."

By the whole suite of products, Skipper means ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News and the various mobile apps the broadcaster has developed. ESPN has plenty to bargain with as media research firm SNL Kagan reports it is the most valuable channel -- driving the highest subscriber fees -- on basic cable. ESPN 3D is the second highest at $2.71 per subscriber.

Exclusive Deals?

Specifically, SNL Kagan reveals basic cable customers paid an average of $5.06 a month for ESPN in 2012 -- and the broadcaster has nearly 100 million subscribers. That has caused Fox and others to jump in with rival services. By way of comparison, the NFL Network is in sixth place at $.84 per subscriber while ESPN2 is eighth at $.82.

We caught up with Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, to get his thoughts on the rush toward Internet TV. He told us Sony may be the first to do a deal with Viacom, but few of these providers are interested in doing an exclusive deal, at least for long.

"None of them, for example, has an exclusive deal with traditional pay TV providers, at least by choice," he said. "Assuming the deal has been done, though, it would represent progress by at least one other over-the-top provider after Intel to...

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Ex-Windows Chief Sinofsky Puts on VC Hat

Less than a year ago, the rumor mill was churning about a clash between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows Chief Steve Sinofsky that seemingly caused Sinofsky to leave the company in November 2012. Now, the former president of both Windows and Windows Live will be working with Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Sinofsky is joining the firm as a board partner, in what he calls a "unique" role. In the new position, Sinofsky will represent the firm on the boards of portfolio companies, when called upon, but will not be a full-time member of the firm.

"I'm relatively new to the VC world and have a lot of learning to do -- and I am very excited to do that," Sinofsky wrote in a blog post. "I can't think of a better place to do this than a16z [short for Andreessen Horowitz], as they share the commitment to learning and sharing that learning, for example through all the blog posts the GPs write."

A Team Player?

Sinofsky brings 23 years of Microsoft experience to the table. While in Redmond, Ballmer credited him with building an "incredible foundation" with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and Halo 4, as well as the integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all the company's products.

But for all Sinofsky's success, he tended to ruffle feathers. Upon his departure from Microsoft in November last year, Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle told us Sinofsky wasn't the right man to help Ballmer connect the dots in building a homogenous solution that crosses services on the backend, hardware on the front end, with Microsoft at both ends in between.

Andreessen, however, seems to believe Sinofsky is the right guy for the board partner role. In his blog...

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Apple iCloud Services Hit in Thursday Outage

Apple's multiple iCloud services started showing signs of trouble late Wednesday and continued into Thursday. At the time of this writing, there is no official word from Apple on what caused the problem, but the outage clearly affected a range of popular iCloud services.

How serious was the effect? One can play the numbers and show a glass half-full, as Apple said this service glitch affected less than 1 percent of users, which is true. But here is the glass rather empty: 1 percent could be close to millions, as iCloud users total hundreds of millions, with reports of close to 300 million members.

Those affected by the outage were scrambling unsuccessfully to do their favorite iCloud tasks as they sat down to breakfast on Thursday.

Oh No, Did You Send Me a Cat Pic?

Backup & Restore, Documents in the Cloud, iWork for iCloud, Photo Stream, iPhotoJournals all were affected, as was the ability to send or download iMessage attachments, according to an earlier official status update page from Apple.

For a very brief period, users had been unable to make iTunes purchases (Apple said that 16 percent of users had been affected). Apple also noted a brief period that took place on Wednesday when some users may have been unable to create Apple IDs.

At the time of this writing, according to Apple's official system status page, the company's use of the past tense jumped out into view, as it suggested relief for affected users -- Apple noted that for multiple services less than 1 percent of users "were" affected.

Not for a Minute

iCloud is a popular suite of cloud storage services, a successor to MobileMe. Users can store photos and other types of content using iCloud.

Thursday's service problems were frustrating for affected users in that the problems did not last...

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Samsung Smart Watch Rumored for Event Sept. 4

Will your next smartphone be on your wrist? The possibility of that happening may increase, if rumors that Samsung will release a smart watch in early September are accurate.

The reports center on an event that Samsung has planned for Sept. 4 in Berlin, two days before the giant IFA consumer electronics show there, and one week before Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone. According to Bloomberg News Service, the Android-based device will be called the Galaxy Gear, and it will be able to make phone calls, surf the Web, e-mail and perform other functions we now associate with smartphones.

Bloomberg cited "two people familiar with the matter" who remain unidentified. Samsung has reportedly been working on several forms of flexible displays, but Bloomberg says that the initial version of this device will not utilize such technology. Samsung confirmed to news media several months ago that it was developing a smart watch.

'Tipping Point'

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that he was "absolutely expecting to see smart watches from a variety of vendors" soon. The "tipping point" has been reached, he said, since the "technology in smartphones has gotten small enough" that useful functions can be handled by small, wearable devices.

He pointed out that "consumers are already walking around with these small computers in their pocket," meaning smartphones, and now some of that work can be offloaded to small companion devices like a smart watch. Greengart said it wasn't clear if Samsung was actually going to unveil its smart watch on Sept. 4, but he was expecting the next version of the Galaxy Note tablet to be shown then. Reports indicate that the next Note, the Galaxy Note 3, will be a combination smartphone and tablet.

No one actually knows how big the market for smart...

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Hacked Web Sites’ Achilles Heel: Outbrain Service

The Washington Post and multiple other Web sites were hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army this week. It appears the SEA was able to hack these sites by first gaining access to Outbrain.

Outbrain is a content recommendation service, and is used by all the major Web sites that were hacked throughout yesterday. After posting pictures, it was confirmed that the SEA had successfully entered the admin panel of Outbrain and compromised the sites that use its services.

CNN, Time, and the Washington Post were all affected by the hack and, as a result, users that tried to visit their sites were redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army Web site. The Washington Post acknowledged the hack had occurred, telling Mashable that the SEA "claimed they gained access to elements of our site by hacking one of our business partners, Outbrain."

Outbrain acknowledge the attack and said it immediately took down its service to protect its customers.

"The breach now seems to be secured and the hackers blocked out, but we are keeping the service down for a little longer until we can be sure it's safe to turn it back on securely," Outbrain told The Post in a statement. "We are working hard to prevent future attacks of this nature."

What Is the SEA?

The Syrian Electronic Army has been gaining attention since last year after first hacking the BBC Weather Twitter account in March 2012. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- who has knowledge regarding computing -- has referenced his "electronic army" before, but no formal ties between the SEA and his regime have been established. Instead, the SEA appears to be made up of professional hackers who simply have the same ideology as Assad.

The SEA appears to be going after anyone who says anything in opposition to Assad. Because of that, news organizations like...

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Motorola Skip Securely Unlocks Moto X

Device maker Motorola is in accessory mode, adding more layers of anticipation for the upcoming Moto X. Now Motorola is suggesting one more reason to feel good about Moto X with its announcement of Motorola Skip, a small wearable clip to unlock your new phone.

The idea is simple and convenient enough. Using Skip, a Moto X owner can securely unlock his phones with a tap instead of pecking out a passcode or swiping.

Only Skip and Skip dots that have been paired with your phone will unlock it, and you can easily unpair them if you lose or replace your Skip.

The device is sized as a wearable, and you clip it onto a belt loop, sleeve, or shirt hem, for example. As to color scheme, Motorola will start out with gadgets that are gray with black accent, but more colors will be available later on.

Above the Market Din

Motorola posted the announcement Friday on its official blog, which began: "Hello Skip. Goodbye PIN."

Actually, that "Goodbye Pin" message rules at Motorola. Consumers are growing deaf and bleary-eyed as smartphone vendors yell over each others' heads to flaunt competing numbers about weight, pixels and memory. Motorola aims to rise above the din with smartphone re-thinks. Number one, it is championing security but declaring war on the tedium of present-day authentication.

"Our smartphones are central to our digital lives . . . the keys to our friends, our finances, and a lot of our personal information," Motorola wrote in its blog post. "Security is increasingly important, but it shouldn't be irritating."

Motorola reckons the typical person unlocks a smartphone 39 times a day and close to 100 times a day for power users. "At 2.3 seconds each time the phone is unlocked, it adds up to a lot of time spent entering...

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Data Stolen Again at Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been hacked again. The government agency notified employees via email on Wednesday that attackers gained personal information, including names and Social Security numbers, of 14,000 current and former employees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The July attack was the second this year. The DOE was also hacked in February. But it's not the only government entity that's shown itself vulnerable. In May, the U.S. Department of Labor's website was hacked and malicious code was placed on the site in the process.

"The Department's Cybersecurity office, the Office of Health, Safety and Security and the Inspector General's office are working with other federal law enforcement to obtain information concerning the nature of the incident," the memo, which the Journal obtained, said. "No classified data was targeted or compromised. Once the full nature and extent of this incident is known, the Department will implement a full remediation plan."

How Could it Happen Twice?

Tom Cross, director of security research at Lancope, told us in some cases attackers target information about employees because they can use that information to impersonate those employees in spear-phishing attacks or compromise their access credentials.

"Organizations need to move beyond thinking about computer attacks as involving exploit code and malicious software," he said. "Sometimes, the attackers log right in using employees access credentials and then proceed to access information on the network without using any custom malware. A defensive strategy that focuses exclusively on detecting exploits and malware cannot detect this sort of unauthorized activity."

But how could this happen twice in a matter of months? Anthony DiBello, strategic partnerships manager, Guidance Software, told us this will not be resolved without a complete forensic analysis of the compromised system or systems -- and this process may or may not have already started.

"When incidents like this...

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Fall’s Hottest Smartphones: A Buyer’s Guide

With Apple's latest iPhone widely expected next month, anyone shopping for a new phone right now has a lot to consider. USA TODAY's Nancy Blair and Edward C. Baig offer a roundup of fall's hottest handsets, in no particular order, keeping in mind that pricing and availability may change:

ANDROID

How to choose? Android fans have a shelf full of offerings to consider from every major Android maker. Google-owned Motorola just unveiled the Moto X, the first flagship phone under the Google umbrella. This month also brought the unveiling of LG's G2, which will be coming to U.S. carriers sometime later this summer or early fall. And for Android purists, the Google Play store now offers stock Android versions of the Samsung Galaxy line's popular S4 and the HTC One.

HTC ONE

HTC's thin and stylish HTC One reached U.S. consumers this spring on every major wireless carrier except for Verizon, where the release date has been pushed back several times.

With sleek unibody construction and premium feel, the HTC One offers an excellent screen display, some slick photo features and a unique BlinkFeed interface that pushes your content front and center. Rather than typical icons, you can get a stream of your photos, news and more.

This is a knockout phone. It has great-sounding speakers. And it can capture a few seconds of video and still images through a feature called "Zoe." But it's not without flaws. The Zoe software isn't very intuitive, and the phone's on-screen home button is in an odd place.

Pricing: $199.99 for a 32GB version ($299 for 64GB) at AT&T and Sprint with two-year service contracts. At T-Mobile: $99.99 down payment and $20 monthly payments over 24 months.

Key specs: HTC UltraPixel Camera, 1080p HD video capture and playback, Beats Audio, quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

MOTO X

The first phone produced from scratch...

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