Screen Grabs: Vampire Diaries uses Galaxy Note to scratch out sinister signals

Screen Grabs chronicles the uses (and misuses) of real-world gadgets in today’s movies and TV. Send in your sightings (with screen grab!) to screengrabs at engadget dot com

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The residents of Mystic Falls, Virginia are the most tech-savvy bunch of supernatural creatures we’ve ever seen. If Edward Cullen and Bella Swan bothered to email each other, then we’d have been spared the horrors of New Moon. Quite the opposite here, as The Vampire Diaries folks have their fingers close to the undead pulse of gadgets, with one character in last night’s episode refusing to type a text message so they could write out their response with an S-Pen. Fans of the show that keep score should know that it currently stands two to Microsoft, two to Google and the fate of humanity all to play for.

3-Axis Joystick Turns Your Phone’s Camera Into A Joystick

Phones. there just isn’t enough room on them for proper gaming. That must be why we are always looking for better ways to attach joysticks to them. If you put it on your screen, you are blocking some of the action and that’s no good. A research group at Keio University has the answer. The 3-Axis analog joystick is an elastic device that goes over the front facing camera of your smartphone and acts as a joystick.

Netflix Buys DVD.com Domain

Do you think that DVDs are dead? Sure instant streaming is all the rage, but Netflix apparently believes in the DVDs staying power. Don’t believe me? Just go to DVD.com and you will be magically whisked away to Netflix. It will take you to the subdomain dvd.netflix.com.

Taiwan Slashes HDD Prices

Thank you Supply-and-Demand Economics! We now have an HDD Sale!

Retail channels from Taiwan will slash about 10% at the end of April to adjust inventories and promotes sales. A 3.5 inch 500 GB model went from NT$2,200 (US$75)  to below NT$2,000, according to industry sources.

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MacBook Touch: Concept Video Shows What Touchscreen Apple Laptop Might Look Like

Macbook Touch

After Apple introduced the iPhone’s touchscreen technology in 2007, it was only natural that fans would start speculating as to whether it would ever be incorporated into the company’s massively popular MacBooks. But with characteristic conviction, Steve Jobs’ put at end to those rumors in 2010 when, at an unveiling for the OS X Lion, he declared that “Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical.”

For the Lenovo Yoga’s sake, let’s hope Jobs was wrong about that. And also because a new concept video, posted on YouTube earlier this week by French architect Olivier Terrisse, shows how awesome a ‘MacBook Touch’ could be, combining the MacBook’s sharp display with a flip-and-fold design.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look we can be looking forward to a MacBook Touch anytime soon. But if the latest rumors are true, Apple fans should have enough to get excited about over the next year: In addition to the 4G iPhone 5, which a number of sources have said will be released in October 2012, the company is also rumored to be developing a mini 7.5-inch version of the iPad as well as an Apple TV, which could be here in time for the holidays.

 

Visa and Mastercard announce massive data breach, 10 million credit cards compromised

Credit Cards

In the last few days, news has been filtering out that Visa and MasterCard data was compromised by persons unknown. The card issuers have sent private alerts to banks indicating a data breach occurred between January 21, 2012 and February 25, 2012 and official announcements have since been made. After the news broke, payment processor Global Payments Inc. was identified as the compromised party, and we’re now learning that the data theft seems to be extensive.

According to the official alerts sent out by both Visa and MasterCard, so-called Track 1 and 2 data was included in the information stolen. That means the hackers have all the data they need to clone cards from scratch. The banks and credit unions believed to be affected are investigating the breach more thoroughly, and contacting businesses and individuals with potentially compromised accounts. Global Payments has admitted that it did not notice the breach until early March, and some cards have already been used in the wild.

Hard numbers are still difficult to come by, but PSCU, a financial services company dealing with credit unions, has said that 56,455 credit union accounts appear to be involved in the data theft. This might just be the tip of the iceberg, though. A Gartner analyst claims to have spoken with people with Visa and MasterCard who worry the breach could be extremely severe. Early estimates indicate that more than 10 million credit card numbers may have been compromised.

Global Payments is planning to hold a conference call on Monday morning to further explain what happened. We might get more technical details at that time, but things are certainly looking like a mess right now. Best to take a long hard look at that next billing statement.