All posts by Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

World’s First 180mm f/2.8 Macro Lens from Sigma Goes Missing at CES 2012

The CES 2012 exhibition held in Las Vegas from Tuesday, January 10 to Friday, January 13 saw some new and interesting announcements and releases. One such announcement made by Sigma, one of the major manufacturers of cameras, lenses, flashes and other photographic accessories, unveiled the world’s first 180mm f/2.8 macro lens that features a 1:1 magnification ratio. Apparently, out of the only two pre-production models, one of them has gone missing.

The Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM is the world’s first 180mm macro lens that offers a magnification ratio of 1:1 and a large maximum aperture of F2.8. The lens is a successor to the older 180mm F3.5 EX DG macro. The new lens features Sigma’s proprietary Optical Stabilizer (OS) technology and the wide aperture features faster shutter speeds in low light and a narrow depth of field.

Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM

The lens also has three “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) glass elements, which have an equivalent performance to a fluorite glass. These FLDs are included to provide correction for color aberrations and an inner focusing system minimizes aberrations that occur as shooting distances change.

At 1:1 magnification, this lens has a focusing distance of 18.5 inches, which is a greater working distance than shorter focal length macro lenses, making it advantageous when taking pictures of highly sensitive subjects like butterflies.

The lens is compatible to Sigma’s tele-converters, and the focal length can be extended to 252mm f/4.5 using the AF 1.4x EX converter (404mm equiv.). It can also be extended to 360mm f/7 via the AF 2x EX converter (576mm equiv.), however, in this case you’ll lose the AF though.

According to the president of Sigma Corporation of America, Mark Amir-Hamzeh –

“Our first 180mm macro was very popular with macro photographers and we’re certain that discerning photographers will be very impressed with its new technical and performance upgrades. The Optical Stabilizer technology and faster maximum aperture will make it even easier for users to capture the close-up, intricate details in the tiny world around them. We’ve released some really incredible products in the past year – there’s truly something in our lineup for every type and level of photographer.”

There are no further details available about the lost lens; however, it’s definitely worth hundreds of dollars. Sigma, however, has not revealed the pricing and availability of the lens yet.

Complete Specifications of Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM

Principal specifications

  • Lens Type: Prime lens
  • Max Format Size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 180 mm
  • Image stabilisation: Yes
  • Lens mount: Sigma SA

Aperture

  • Maximum aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum aperture: F22.0
  • Aperture ring: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9

Optics

  • Elements: 19
  • Groups:                14
  • Special elements / coatings: 3 FLD glass elements

Focus

  • Minimum focus: 0.47 m (18.50″)
  • Maximum magnification: 1x
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Motor type: Ring-type ultrasonic
  • Full time manual: Yes
  • Focus method: Internal
  • Focus notes: Floating focus system
  • Distance scale: Yes
  • DoF scale: No

Physical

  • Diameter: 95 mm (3.74″)
  • Length: 204 mm (8.03″)
  • Sealing: No
  • Filter thread: 86 mm
  • Tripod collar: Yes
(via)
Image Credits (via)

Fake ‘Facebook Security’ Account Used to Send Phishing Messages

According to a report from the Kaspersky Lab, a new phishing attack on Facebook has been discovered that primarily attempts to steal account information of Facebook users and compromise the account. The attackers then attempt to gather the financial information including credit card data and other sensitive information from the victim.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s David Jacoby, the attackers are not just tricking users to visit a phishing site, but are trying to scare them by sending them warning messages by using a fake “Facebook Security” account. The compromised accounts will be used to steal available personal information and then change both the profile picture and name to try the trick on other Facebook users.

The profile picture will be changed to the Facebook logo and the name will be changed to “Facebook Security” with special ASCII characters replacing the letters such as “a” “k” “S” and “t”. Here is a screen shot of the message sent from a fake account –

Facebook Security Phishing Attack

The message – “Last Warning: Your Facebook account will be turned off Because someone has reported you. Please do re-confirm your account security by: [LINK] Thank you. The Facebook Team,” is used as a warning message sent to users via Facebook Messages and Facebook Chat.

The link used in the message leads users to a phishing site. When we tried opening the page using Google Chrome, the following warning message was displayed – “Phishing sites trick users into disclosing personal or financial information, often by pretending to represent trusted institutions, such as banks.”

The site, however, is designed to look like a Facebook page and prompts the victim to enter the name, email address, password, security question, email account password, country, and date of birth. After having provided with all the information, the victim will be redirected to another page with the heading “Payment Verification” that asks for the first six digits of the victim’s credit card. Accordingly, in the following pages, the user is asked to enter the full credit card number along with the expiry date, CVV code (Security code), and the billing address.

Payment Verification - Fake

If you’re an active Facebook user, then the most important thing that you must know is that Facebook never asks its users to enter their password(s), or credit card details. Check the URL of the site that you’re visiting and make sure it is genuine. Most of the sites that require users to enter any financial information, have a secured HTTPS connection, which are often used for payment transactions on the World Wide Web and for sensitive transactions in corporate information systems, which was not true in this case.

Also Read: Google Chrome Now Blocks Insecure Scripts on HTTPS

If you’ve been warned with such a message on Facebook, then ignore it. Alternatively, you can contact the Facebook Security team here and check if they sent the message or not. We have reported a similar Facebook Security Network Phishing Attack back in August 2011.

“These scams are just getting more popular and we really recommend not giving out personal information, especially not email, password and credit card information over social medias,” Jacoby wrote. “It is also recommend[ed] that you contact your security vendor and the social media vendor if you encounter these sites.”

Facebook Comments Box Now Supports Adding Comments via Mobile

Facebook announced that they have now extended its comments plugin (the Comment Box) to work on mobile supported websites. Websites with the Comment Box plugin embedded in them will enable its mobile visitors to use the plugin to add their comments and views.

“Today we’re launching the Comments Box plugin for mobile to make it easier for media sites to engage people across the web and mobile devices, and for people to comment on news regardless of where they’re reading it,” Facebook announced.

Installing the plugin for mobile devices requires no additional tasks. When a user visits a website supporting the feature, the Comment Box will be automatically displayed on the mobile version of the site. The plugin is designed to automatically recognize when a user is on a mobile device and unlike its previous versions, the plugin ensures to ignore the width parameter so that the comments are displayed at 100 percent.

Facebook Comment Box for Mobile Devices

However, Developers or Webmasters can disable the automatic width feature by setting the mobile parameters to false and can manually control the width settings. A complete documentation of this can be viewed from here.

Facebook unveiled the completely revamped Comment Box for websites earlier in March 2011. This intended to reduce spam comments on websites, since commenting using the box would require the user to login to his Facebook account first. Comments posted by a user will also appear on the commenter’s profile, unless the user manually chooses not to “post” comments by changing the user Privacy Settings.

Back in November 2011, we found out that comments added using the Facebook’s commenting systems were indexed by the search engine giant, Google. Queries like “commenter name and commenter title” will display all the comments the commenter may have written on different websites using Facebook or equivalent services.

Having the Facebook Comment Box plugin work on mobile devices might improve interactions and reduce spam, and of course, it does make life easier for website owners and its regular readers that use the plugin.

Ramnit Worm Steals 45,000 Facebook Passwords

If you are a Facebook user in the United Kingdom or in France, then it’s time to change your account password. The infamous Ramnit worm, which earlier was used to gain access to financial credentials, is now targeting users on Facebook. Reports indicate that the worm was first detected 18 months ago, and is now continuing to evolve on the social networking giant.

According to researchers at the Israeli firm Seculert, a variant of Ramnit was found and has managed to steal over 45,000 Facebook users’ credentials, mostly in the United Kingdom and France, and infected over 800,000 systems from September to December 2011.

Ramnit a is malware program that is designed to attack Windows executable files (.exe files), MS Office, and HTML documents. TheFacebook Security malware is used to steal sensitive information such as user names, passwords, FTP credentials, and browser cookies. The malware program can “bypass two-factor authentication and transaction signing systems, gain remote access to financial institutions, compromise online banking sessions and penetrate several corporate networks,” Seculert wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Hackers are posting scam messages with links to bogus sites to spread the malware program. When users visit an infected web page, malware programs are automatically downloaded on the user’s computer, which gathers all the required information, like login credentials and saved passwords. The credentials are then accessed by the hackers to compromise users’ accounts. Once the victim’s account is compromised, it is suspected that the Ramnit download link is posted on the Facebook Timeline.

Learn: How to Prevent Your Facebook Account from Getting Hacked

We at Techie Buzz have warned our readers several times on scams spreading on Facebook, and have also provided tips on how to identify and avoid clicking scam links on Facebook. Facebook has recently added two new security features – Trusted Friends and Application Passwords – which are intended to keep your account secured and keep hackers at bay.

As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you are not sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on – removing apps from Facebook. In addition to that, don’t forget to check out our article about – Avoiding Facebook Lifejacking and Clickjacking scams.

Also Read: Facebook Introduces Sweeping Sharing and Privacy Changes

Bookmark – Techie Buzz – Facebook Scams. We always keep you updated with the latest scams spreading on Facebook.

Google+ May Have 400 Million Users by End of 2012

According to a public post by Paul Allen, who claims himself as the unofficial Google+ statistician”, the newly launched social networking site, Google+, in competition with Facebook, will have nearly 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Well, that means that Google Plus will have a user base half the size of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (taking the current 800 million users in consideration). This prediction is done with the help of the current rate of new signups on Google+. Currently, Google Plus is having over 62 million users, adding over 625,000 new users every day.

Here are the statistics provided by Allen –

  • July 13 – 10 million
  • August 1 – 20.5 million
  • September 1 – 24.7 million
  • October 1 – 38 million (Larry Page announced “more than 40m users” on Oct 13th)
  • November 1 – 43 million
  • December 1 – 50 million
  • December 27 – 62 million
  • January 1 – 65.8 million (forecast)
  • February 1 – 85.2 million (forecast)

Paul Allen states that –

Google+ is adding new users at a very rapid pace. It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks.

Google Plus Growth Rate (Predicted)

In comparison, Facebook reported that it has over 800 million users as of September, while Twitter  reported  460,000 signups per day, which has obviously shot up after its integration with iOS 5. Now, looking at the (predicted) growth of Google Plus, the numbers are surely insane.

However, the question that strikes is whether users on Google Plus are only creating accounts, or do they even use it? Well, only Google has the answer to that question.

Allen’s stats have only predicted the current users registered on the site. However, his numbers do not indicate how many are actively using the social network. Last month, some stats suggested that over half the network’s first 15 million members hadn’t been back a week after joining,  the  Telegraph  reports.

Recently, Google+ announce new features on the site, including simple slider to control the stream, multiple admins for Google+ Pages, new photo Lightbox, and “Find My Facefacial recognition tool.

So, this question is out to our readers. When was the last time you opened your Google Plus page/account? Which among the three Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus have been the most dominant? Let us know by adding your comments below, or over on our  Facebook page.

Stop Posts from Showing in Facebook Ticker – Facebook Hoax

Facebook announced its new Timeline feature way back in September, and allowed Facebook Developers to experience the new profile layout. Timeline was then released worldwide starting from New Zealand.

Users on Facebook reported that they found the Timeline confusing and cluttered. However, this didn’t bother Facebook, since they’re quite confident that people will eventually get used to it.

While the appeal to disable the Facebook Timeline continues, a new hoax message has been reportedly spreading on the network, which claims to help users disable the Facebook Ticker and limit hackers from hacking your account. The following message has gone viral and is showing up on Newsfeeds everywhere:

“With the new FB timeline’ on its way this week for EVERYONE…please do both of us a favor: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says Subscribed.Hover over that, then go to Comments and Likesand Gamesand un-click it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the side bar(ticker) for everyone to see, but MOST IMPORTANTLY it LIMITS HACKERS from invading our profiles. If you re-post this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll like’ it. Thanks”

Stop Posts from Showing in Facebook Ticker - Facebook Hoax

The methods mentioned in the hoax message will not protect your Facebook account from hackers or improve your privacy. The best way to protect your information and other details on Facebook is by setting all of your privacy and sharing settings to ‘friends only.’ This way, whatever you share on Facebook will be limited to your friends only.

It is always good to verify messages like this before you re-post it on Facebook or elsewhere. If you’re not sure about the message, then the best thing to do is to ignore or delete it. Scammers create such fake messages in order to scare users, and trick them to re-post it.

We recommend you to go through the official document released by Facebook called Guide To Facebook Security, which will definitely help you tackle scam messages. The document is available for free and you can  download  a copy of it from the  Facebook Security Page. We have also compiled a list of  Most Actively Spreading Scams on Facebook  that you might want to have a look at.

Bookmark  Techie Buzz Facebook Scams. We always keep you updated with the  latest scams spreading on Facebook.

Happy Holidays Google Doodle

It’s celebration time everywhere around the world. The whole world is busy preparing themselves for the week-long holidays till the first of New Year, and so is  Google and the team behind the Android OS.

Marking the festivity and joy around, Google has replaced its default logo with a “Happy Holidays” doodle. Google does this every year during the time of Christmas and New Year, wishing all its users a Happy Christmas and Holidays by updating their homepage with a Google Doodle.

Happy Holidays 2011 from Google

This year the “holiday doodle” has a pitch black background depicting a dark night and showcases all the elements that are associated with Christmas, like snowflakes, Santa Claus, bell, snowman, candle and a gift box which are seen decorating the word ‘google’ in the latest doodle.

The Google logo is visible (faded) as an outline behind the icons. Unlike its other interactive doodles, the holiday doodle is static and clicking it will take you to the “happy holidays” Google search results page. Google has been celebrating Christmas and holidays from the past ten years, with a new doodle each year.

You might be wondering why it is “Happy Holidays” and not “Happy Christmas” or “Happy New Year”? Well, in the United States, the collective phrase Happy Holidaysis often used as a generic to cover all greetings for all of the winter holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Google also released a new advertisement for the holiday called, “Happy Holidays- from Android.Here’s the video released by Google –

 

Not just that – Google also celebrated the holidays this year by giving away a free Galaxy Nexus smartphone to its employees. The company is allowing Gmail users in the U.S. to call Santa, and is bringing down a little bit of snowfall and frost to its search results when searching for the phrase ‘let it snow‘.

Free Christmas Theme for All Facebook Users – Facebook Scam

A new scam on  Facebook  has been reportedly spreading on the social networking giant, Facebook. The scam titled Free Christmas Theme for Facebookhas a messages that reads Get Christmas Theme for FB on [link] <<—Free Christmas Theme for all FB users.

The scam is spreading in different versions. Another similar version of the scam has the following title Get All new Santa Claus theme for Christmas,followed by the same description.

Free Facebook Christmas Theme

This is a  spam message  that is spreading on Facebook. Do not share this with your friends. Clicking the scam will take you to a bogus page where a malware program will be automatically downloaded on your computer.

Clicking the link will take you to the Facebook Page where you are asked to click on the shortened URL to proceed further to claim your “Free Christmas Theme.” You will see the following page when it is loaded –

Free Christmas Theme for Facebook - Scam

You are asked to download and install a browser extension in order to activate the theme. Please DO NOT download the file as it is a rogue browser plugin. It is recommended that you only install those plugins from authors you trust. The plugin that you will be installing is designed to monitor your Internet activity. The program will log all your entries, including your username and password to various accounts. The gathered data will be sent to the author of the plugin, who could possibly misuse or hack your accounts.

We have already warned our readers about Christmas Related Offers and Scams on Facebook. We recommended you not to click on any messages (including those which are posted by your close friends) with any short URLs, or have the following keywords – limited Christmas offer, free Christmas theme, free coupons, and so on.

To understand how to identify and avoid Facebook scams, I recommended you to go through the articles written on Techie Buzz. They will definitely help you

We at Techie Buzz constantly  monitor  for any scam messages spreading on Facebook. Bookmark  Techie Buzz Facebook Scams  and keep yourself updated with the  latest scams on Facebook.

Most Popular Facebook Games in 2011

Social gaming has been one of the biggest trends in 2011 and it is expected to continue growing in 2012. Facebook, with over 800 million users, is the biggest social gaming platform.

In a recent 2011 National Gamers Survey conducted by Newzoo, indicates that out of 215 million gamers in the U.S., 16 percent (14 million) of them played social games on Facebook and other social networking sites. Majority of the 14 million users have definitely played games on Facebook.

Facebook has compiled a list of the most popular games played on its network in 2011. It was expected that CityVille by Zynga would top the list, but it is quite surprising to see that CityVille has been ranked third, while Gardens of Time by Playdom topped the list, followed by The Sims Social by EA in the second position.

Best (Popular) Facebook Games 2011

Also Read:  Facebook Reveals Most Shared Articles in 2011

Here’s the list of the most popular and best Facebook games in 2011 –

  1. Gardens of Time  (By Playdom)
  2. The Sims Social  (By EA)
  3. Cityville  (By Zynga)
  4. DoubleDown Casino  (by DoubleDown Entertainment)
  5. Indiana Jones Adventure World  (By Zynga)
  6. Words With Friends  (By Zynga)
  7. Bingo Blitz  (By Buffalo Studios)
  8. Empires & Allies  (By Zynga)
  9. Slotomania-Slot Machines  (By Playtika)
  10. Diamond Dash  (By wooga)

The list released by Facebook was compiled based on games that had 100,000 monthly active users and giving priority to those games with the highest user satisfaction scores. The games were also ranked based on the most user recommendations, which may have had an impact in the final ranking.

Facebook also released top game lists based on categories, like Casino Games, Sports Games, and Fashion Games. The top games with 50,000-100,000 users were ranked as such – Super Slot Machines  (By Davy Campano, David Livingston Kirby and Robby Campano), WestWars  (By  Innogames), and MouseHunt  (By HitGrab)

Top Fashion Games in 2011  

  1. Mall World  (By 50 Cubes)
  2. ItGirl  (By CrowdStar)
  3. Coco Girl  (By Metrogames)

You can check the rest of the rankings on Facebook’s  blog.

Google Plus Announces New Updates; Enables Multiple Administrators for Google+ Pages

Google has just announced a list of new improvements and changes for its Google+ social network. Google Plus Engineer, David, says that the   Google Plus team have been closely going through all the feedback provided by its users on the network, and these new improvements are the most highly requested features by the users.

Horowitz had this to say in a Google+ post earlier today –

I’m really thrilled to announce new features and functionality, all of which will be rolling out in the next day or so… These aren’t bells-and-whistles, but really deep improvements that I’m sure you are going to love.

The team knocked it out of the park… Huge congrats and thanks to the many folks who really gave of themselves to make this pre-holiday mega-launch possible. (I hope they find a moment to recharge during the holidays, because we have some awesome stuff planned for 2012!)

Enjoy, and as usual, tell us what you think so that we can learn, improve and adapt accordingly.  #seasonforshipping

Simple Slider to Control the Stream

Noise filter is one of the highly requested features on Google Plus. Many users complained that they don’t have enough controls over their streamline.

With an aim to help you keep track of everything important shared on the network, Google has decided to add “fine-grained controls that will enable you to ‘graphic-equalize’ and fine-tune your stream.” With a simple slider (on the top-right of the stream) you will be allowed to control the volume of posts that are shared in the main Google+ stream from each contact or a circle.

Whit this, you can then determine how much of content from that specific circle or person will appear in your main stream. This will stop heavy posters from surpassing everyone else on your stream, and you won’t miss anything that is important.

Google + Multiple Admins

Google+ Pages were announced very recently, and looking at all of the feedback provided by users, majority of them requested for multiple administrators or “Managers” to the pages. Companies and organizations with a Google+ Page can now add up to 50 administrators, with notifications, and more. The notification system will enable all administrators to keep up with the activities and conversations on the side –

“We’ll now show on aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1′ ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page. ”

Along with this, Google also announced that Page administrators (“Managers”) will be provided with elements of statistics showing the involvement of users clicked on +1’s, page interactions, adding the page to their circles, and so on. Both the administrator and the page visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

New Photo Lightbox

The redesigned and improved Lightbox will make viewing of photos a better experience on Google Plus. The Lightbox has got an improved navigation, enhanced comments, full screen photo views (like the Facebook style), jump between photos with the bird’s eye view, and many more. Along with all these, Google Plus has made tagging more intuitive. You can easily tag and label your friends in your photos.

Another small improvement is the redesign of the little red notification indicator on the top-right of the screen – on the Google Bar. The new indicator is designed to give a slightly longer sneak-preview of new updates. Google says that they have polished these notifications and made a few other meaningful improvements too, including the ability to see the +1’s and shares your posts have received since you last checked.

All of these features will be rolled out to all users on the network in the next couple of days, and the Google+ team hopes that its user would find these changes useful this Christmas season and beyond. What do you think of the new features? Let us know by adding your comment below.