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Introducing Outdoor Tech

Spring is here, and although last night was in the 20s, it quickly warmed up to 60 during the day. Ah, spring in the Valley! As the snow melts and mud season begins, it was time to dust off the bike equipment, put the skis away and make the transition. As I got my bike equipment out, I thought back to all the good times I had last year — I got a new cross bike for the dirt roads around here and used a new app called Strava to track my rides.

As we all prepare to get back outside, I thought that there was no better time to bring in a company called Outdoor Tech. As their name suggests, these guys specialize in technology made for the outdoor elements. In particular, their speakers, Turtle Shell 2.0 and the Buckshot, both offer great sound, are water-resistant and have the ability to mount on a bike. The Buckshot includes a bike mount and can fit onto your handlebars (or, in the winter, fit on the chairlift bar) and is great for rocking and taking calls. Its cylindrical shotgun shell shape and single speaker design makes it super portable and great for hitting the bike path!

The Turtle Shell is larger, offering a louder sound with two speakers and battery bass. They claim it’s “louder than a bear’s roar!” I’m not entirely sure how they tested that, but I’ll take their word for it. For those of you who love to belt it out in the shower (really, who doesn’t?), you can mount it there or on your bike using the Turtle Claw. Either one will ensure you get heard this summer and keep you safe. A great speaker with good lows and highs. Note: I have found headphones while biking on the road isn’t the best idea, apparently cars use the road too — who knew?

We’ve also brought in some headphones from Outdoor Tech: The Adapt and the Privates, an over-ear Bluetooth headphone with touch control and an awesome slogan — “Touch your privates in public!”

The Adapt is just that — a great Bluetooth adapter that allows you to make any pair of headphones wireless. A very cool device for those who already love their wired headphones, especially for the ski/snowboard helmets with them already built-in. If you want to skip adapting your old headphones and step into something new, the Privates are a great pair of headphones that offer hands-free calling, as well as a touch interface for controlling play/pause, skip forward/back, and answer/hangup.

Now get outside and enjoy the lovely spring weather!

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Heartbroken About Heartbleed? Don't Be! Here's What You Need to Know.

The internet may not actually be a series of tubes, but it still is a complex layering of protocols, software, hardware and people. One of those protocols that we rely on heavily is SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security). This protocol is what allows your data to pass securely between your computer or device and the sites you visit. It does this by encrypting the data end-to-end.

For example, you might notice that Smalldog.com’s shopping cart URL has an “https” at the beginning. This signals that you’re viewing a secured page. Any information you enter on forms will be transmitted encrypted. Credit card numbers, passwords, and everything else are all encrypted and safe. Any site that handles credit card information, or other sensitive customer information must be PCI compliant. Here at Small Dog Electronics, we go through compliance testing each month to verify that our servers and systems check out. When something like the Heartbleed bug comes along, we take it very seriously and have procedures in place to resolve it.

The bug works by exploiting a flaw in the way heartbeat messages are handled in OpenSSL. A heartbeat message is nothing more than a tiny message from a client to the server that says, “Hey server, even though I’m not sending encrypted data right now, I’m still here, so don’t close my secure connection.” It does this because closing and reopening the connection takes work, so it’s more efficient to leave it open. These heartbeat messages typically contain some payload data and an indication of how big the payload data is. So a message might be “Hey server, I’m still here” and the payload size might say 32 bytes. The server hears this message and responds by returning the payload data and payload size to the client.

In the exploitation of this transaction a malicious client would send a heartbeat message with a very small payload (say 10 bytes), but it would lie and say that the payload size was very large (50,000 bytes). When the server goes to respond by sending back the payload, it mistakenly grabs 50,000 bytes worth of data from its memory. This could include all kinds of data that this client should NOT know about. It could be anything the server was working on at that time: other client secure data, passwords, or even encryption keys. This is all very bad, so we want to stop it from happening.

Fortunately, the fix for the bug is fairly simple. Servers running OpenSSL need to upgrade their version. Because it’s possible that encryption keys and certificates could have been compromised, it’s advisable to also replace those keys and certificates. Here at Small Dog Electronics, we’ve done both of these things. We’ve also reset login sessions in case an old user login session was still active or compromised.

So what else should you know? OS X itself is not vulnerable to the bug. We use custom software versions and configurations on our servers to allow us to keep up with the latest bug fixes in a more timely manner, but in this case, it meant our version included the bug.

Because we’re lovers of security here, we suggest everyone update their Top Dog Club passwords just to be extra safe. Additionally, since OpenSSL is very common software used all across the web (somewhere around 60% at last estimation), we also suggest that people update passwords for accounts on other sites. As always, we recommend choosing good, strong passwords.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our blog, Twitter, or Facebook if you have any questions about our security, what we’ve done to patch the Heartbleed bug, or you’d like help updating your account passwords.

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AppleCare: Because WE Care!

It happens regularly…technology breaks. Nothing is perfect, and in the age of constant change, that statement is truer than ever. It forces us to ask the age old question, “What is AppleCare and why do I want it?” Well, I can personally attest to the fact that AppleCare is a NECESSITY for anyone with an Apple product. To insure your computer is to ensure your future happiness with everything Apple. 

Apple’s product quality speaks for itself, but just like any piece of technology, regular wear and tear can (and will) take its toll at some point. One can understand the mindset of trying to save a few bucks, but what if I told you that it is actually in your benefit to purchase AppleCare? That’s right, folks — if you spend more money now, it’s extremely likely that you’ll save much more money later.

Most people know that AppleCare covers all parts and labor associated with your hardware issue. It also covers diagnostic fees and phone support fees with Apple that have been known to cost upwards of $100 without coverage. An extra benefit? Your Mac is covered should you travel outside of the US, something that the standard warranty does not.

So why do you want it? To ENsure a happy, and hassle-free future with your Apple product! AppleCare for your computer runs from $169.99 – $349.99 depending on your model and is available for purchase any time within the first year you own your Mac.

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MAC TREAT #245: Localize Files in the Cloud

For those of you out there storing files in iCloud, this is a handy tip to know. Apple’s iWork suite defaults to this option, and all three apps (Numbers, Keynote, and Pages) provide access to your iCloud storage within the apps themselves.

But, if you’ve ever wanted easier access to these without having to open each individual app, you can view what’s stored via the Finder.

  • Go to the [User] > Library* > Mobile Documents folder (Note: My Mobile Documents folder has a number extension on the end; I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t alter these directions)
  • Type something (anything; I typed “much wow”) in the search field in your Finder window
  • Select “Mobile Documents” as the destination for your search (instead of the default, “This Mac”)
  • Click the “+” icon to the right of the window (to the right of the “Save” button), and choose “Kind is Document”
  • Go back to the search field and erase what you typed; you should now see all of your own iCloud docs
  • Click the Save button, rename the saved search (I named mine “iCloud docs”) if you’d like (make sure not to erase the “.savedSearch” extension), and check “Add to Sidebar” to add this search to your Finder window sidebars

*To show your User Library, go to the Go menu in the Finder, and hold down the Option key to make it available to select.

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It's Back Baby! iPad with Retina Display

Earlier this week, Apple sent out an email announcing the reintroduction of the iPad with Retina display (4th Gen). (See the press release here.) As you may remember, when the iPad Air was announced, the iPad 4 was taken off the market.

Well, it’s back baby! The iPad featuring the Retina display will replace the iPad 2 and will provide a great upgrade in power, performance, and value. The iPad with Retina display (4th Gen) features the Lightning connector, meaning that this replacement spells the end of 30-pin Dock Connector usage on any iPad or iPhone model. (Note that the iPod classic still features the 30-pin connection.)

The iPad with Retina display is $100 less than the iPad Air, coming in at $399 — a great value. We’re even offering free shipping for the next week, just for you! See our special below.

P.S. If your current accessories support the USB-to-dock connector, there may be no need to replace them completely. Apple makes a Lightning-to-30-pin Adaptor, found here.

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