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We're Mostly Back

Well now, we are mostly back online - and if you have any problems, either visually or with navigation, please let us know and we'll try and get things fixed as soon as we can.  Please post them (with screenshot if possible) at the comments section below this post, or send at email to bcchardware (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks so much!

FTC Cracks Down on Fake Tech Support

I'm sure most of you have seen those "You might be infected with Spyware" ad banners that are all over the internet or have received a phone call from someone saying you have a virus and offering to fix it (for a price). Well the US FTC has finally stepping in and has shut down 14 companies that were involved in these scams and is trying to get this problem cleaned up. Obviously there have probably been a few people who fell for this scam and anything that can be done to shut these guys down is a good thing in my books. PCMag has more details on this scam and what is being done to help shut it down.

 The scam was simple: Five of thesix scammers used telemarketing calls while the sixth used Google ads to draw in unsuspecting customers - often by telling them they worked for legitimate firms like Dell, Microsoft, or McAfee. The scammers wouldthen convince a user they had a virus installed on their machine, ask to take over their machines to "remove" the malicious software, and thencharge consumers between $49 and $450 for a task they had not actually completed. In all, they used 80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers.

Apple Begins Production of a Smaller iPad

After years of rumors surrounding a smaller iPad, it looks like we might actually be getting one in the near future. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Asian manufacturers have begun production of a smaller, 7.85 Inch version of the iPad (which is currently 9.7 Inches). The smaller iPad will feature a lower resolution than the current iPad and is going to compete directly with the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. No word on the specs or pricing yet but since its an Apple product we can probably expect to see a bunch of stories about this in the upcoming months.

 The smaller tablet will have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the latest iPad, which was released in March, two of the people said. The screen on the current iPad measures 9.7 inches diagonally, a size that hasn't changed since the first model was released in 2010.


Microsoft to Open “Pop-up Stores”

To help celebrate the upcoming Windows 8 release, Microsoft has announced that they will be opening "pop-up" stores that will be open for the holiday season to sell you Windows 8 and devices that run it (like the Microsoft Surface). These stores will just be temporary and right now there are 32 planned and most of them are in the same malls that house current Apple stores. There may be more coming but right now there are 28 planned in the USA and 4 in Canada. Head on over to ComputerWorld for more details and all the locations.

 Microsoft's temporary, or "pop-up," stores will open Oct. 26 and will sell the Surface tablet, according to the company's website.

And in all but a few cases, Microsoft will go toe-to-toe with Apple: 29 of the 32 stores are located in the same mall or shopping center that houses an Apple retail store.


Windows Phone 8: What’s the Big Secret?

Windows Phone 8 is slated to be released at an event at the end of the month, yet still there are very few details around it and much of it seems to be a big secret. No one is really sure why they are keeping it a secret, maybe its that awesome? Maybe they need more time to get it working? Who knows, but The Verge shares their thoughts over here.

Even though Windows Phone 8 is lined up for a launch event at the end of this month, many members of Microsoft’s developer community still don't have access to vital tools needed to bring their apps up to speed with the latest features and capabilities. A Software Development Kit (SDK) for the new platform has been released to a limited number of developers under a non-disclosure agreement, but the software giant is taking a secretive approach to Windows Phone 8 in general. What's the big secret?


Microsoft is Deploying it's own Phone

Apparently Microsoft hasn't been happy with some of the OEM phone companies they've been working with, or maybe they just want a bigger slice of the pie, either way reports have surfaced that Microsoft is developing its own phone. Microsoft has developed their own tablet (Microsoft Surface) so its not too surprising to see them working on a phone and I guess only time will tell if this strategy will pay off or just make all their OEM partners even more angry. Gizmodo has more details.

Microsoft has tried it everyone else's way, and Windows Phone still hasn't made much headway. That could still change, but two separate reports, from WPCentral and BGR, are claiming that Microsoft's taking the next step and making a phone on its own.

21 Games That Matter This Fall

As the holiday season approaches there are normally a few new video games that come out that people have been waiting patiently for. This year there seems to be more than usual that people can't wait to get their hands on, in fact PCWorld has a list of 21 games that they are looking forward to. I must admit that there are a few that I wouldn't mind trying and a couple I had forgotten about.

 Summer is over, but PC gaming is about to heat up. Starting with Borderlands 2 (pictured here), there's a bevy of new games coming to PCs this fall, and many of them look good enough to merit serious attention. From complex tactical strategy games to fast-paced, modern military shooters and everything in between, chances are there's a game coming out soon that will be perfect entertainment for all your holiday "down time." Have a look at this gallery, and tell us what you think in the comments section. Did we forget any critical nuggets of awesomeness?

Promote Your Status Updates on Facebook

A while back we posted up a story about how Facebook was offering businesses the opportunity to promote their posts and have them show up on the top of their fans news feeds for a price. Well apparently it either worked really well, or they are just really desperate for money, because today starting in the USA, a few thousand of you will have the opportunity to pay $7 bucks to promote your status update and guarantee that is shows up at the top of your friends news feed. If you want more details on how this service works, or just want to go laugh at a bad idea head on over to Slate.

 Starting today, some Facebook users in the United States can pay $7 a pop to "promote" a personal post, making i more likely to appear near the top of their friends' timelines. The social network announced on its blog that it is testing the service for a limited number of U.S. users with fewer than 5,000 friends and subscribers. It has already rolled it out to 20 other countries.

Google is #2

Google has just hit #2 on the list of the world's most valuable Technology companies as they have have passed Microsoft this week. Google is now worth just under $250 Billion dollars and only trails Apple. BusinessWeek has the full story.

Google Inc. (GOOG) has surpassed Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to become the world’s second-largest technology company as computing over the Internet reduces demand for software installed on desktop machines.

Google rose 1 percent to $761.78 at the close in New York, gaining a market capitalization of about $249.9 billion. Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, fell less than 1 percent to $29.49, for a valuation of $247.2 billion.



Consumers Don’t Know What an Ultrabook Is.

Intel has been trying to push Ultrabooks on the general public for a while now, but apparently they are doing a terrible job of marketing because they aren't flying off the shelves like Intel was hoping and now the sales forecasts has been cut in half. The concept behind the Ultrabook is nice, but I'd think the price tag is probably more to blame than anything else. AllThingsD has more details.

If Intel’s Ultrabook concept is going to reinvigorate PC sales, the company is going to have to do a better job marketing it. Because machines meeting the branded ultrathin laptop spec haven’t yet won over consumers the way the smartphone and tablet have.


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