002 PC Mike Techcast: Exposing North Korea’s Top Secret Unit 121 Cyberwar Squad

In this episode of the PC Mike Techcast, I reveal little known details on North Korea’s elite and top secret Unit 121 cyber army that is suspected of the massive hacking of Sony Pictures.

This is the Chinese hotel just across the North Korean border where Unit 121 is reportedly headquartered  - HP photo

I report why this incident has sent chills down the back of Internet security experts and how a 1,800-member team of North Korean hackers operating from a Chinese hotel just over the North Korean border are hacking their way into numerous business and government computers across the U.S.

Plus we talk tech in helping a listener stop his computer from locking up, we share a great app that lets you transfer data between all mobile devices, and we discuss the new affordability of widescreen high-resolution 28-inch computer monitors.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:38:45)

Santa apps for Christmas 2014

Christmas is right around the corner and if you have young ones, chances are the excitement is at a fever pitch. You can tap into that and have a lot of fun watching the sparkle in your children’s eyes through some fun apps and holiday websites. I have some suggestions.

Santa apps for Christmas 2014

The perennial favorite Christmas site is NORAD’s Santa Tracker, an all-platform app and website that lets kids check up on Christmas Eve planning before the deliveries start, then track and monitor Santa’s global travels.

To keep the kids amused for hours, check out Northpole.com, a site that has all sorts of games and places to visit at the North Pole – from the weather station and mailroom (where kids can send a letter and receive a card back from Santa) to the reindeer barn to check up on on preparations for Christmas Eve.

And… there are a bunch of apps to talk to Santa. Parents Calling Santa for the iPhone has three different messages you can select for your child to hear. There’s also a bunch of similar apps for Android smartphones. Most of the calling apps cost a buck or two.

PC Mike Techcast: Managing your life on a smartphone

Can our smartphones really make us smarter? That’s the major topic we explore this week as we begin our new PC Mike Techcast – a weekly podcast that talks about the latest in personal technology and gadgets with no “geek speak.”

reybrown

Our main interview is with Rey Brown, of the Smartphones Made Easy blog and podcast.

I’m really excited about this podcast. It’s a lot of fun to do and there are so many great folks to talk with, including you. Just click the “Leave Voicemail” link on the right side of your screen to record your comments and questions by using the built-in microphone on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. I love to feature listener calls on the podcast, as you can hear in this episode.

Please take a listen:

Listen to the Episode Below

Best monitor deal I’ve seen

Picked up a MacMini today. It’s a terrific little computer. I got the 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, which sells for $694. I’ll dedicate it to be used for Quickbooks and a couple of other programs. With a terabyte of storage and 8 Gigs of RAM, it will serve us well.

viewsonic

But what really has me excited is the awesome monitor I’m using with it: The 28-inch ViewSonic VX2858Sml. At $249 it is an amazing deal. Especially since I was seriously considering a 27-inch Apple Cinema Display. That baby costs just under $1,000.

Cyber Monday beats Black Friday

So you thought Black Friday was big. Consider it just the start of Cyber Monday.

cybermonday

Yeah there were lines in stores.

But consider this: An estimated 40 percent of all retail transactions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday are come from smartphones and tablets. On Thanksgiving Day alone, online sales rose an estimated  27% this year to hit $1.33  billion, in large part thanks to the earlier store openings and better co-ordination of e-commerce with store activity by retailers. By Black Friday itself, online sales over the two days reached $3.73 billion. The online surge actually started the day after Thanksgiving. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 28, $32 billion has been spent online, up 14 percent from 2013, according to Adobe.