'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' vs. the special snowflake

The ratings haven't been that bad, but the buzz has. I know hardly anyone who admits to watching and liking "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Well, building a TV show around a beloved but essentially one-joke character and his army of men in black was never going to be easy. Agent Coulson has been a surprise standout of the Marvel movie series, but he'd always been effective in small doses. For this they had to figure out how to make him and S.H.I.E.L.D. into a full meal. Still, Clark Gregg is great, and Joss Whedon was involved -- so what went wrong?

Mostly, the writers of the ABC show did what you'd expect. They came up with some more character traits for Agent Coulson; gave him a cute supporting cast; tried to flesh out S.H.I.E.L.D. a bit without killing its mystique; and threw in an audience identification character to ground it all. But now that character's been revealed as so much more than that. … Read more

H&M to Super Bowl viewers: Watch our ad, buy our clothes

Clothing retailer H&M plans to boost its sales with help from so-called "t-commerce" company Delivery Agent.

The companies on Monday announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that during this year's Super Bowl, H&M will air an ad promoting the spring collection for David Beckham Bodywear. During the ad, H&M will utilize Delivery Agent's technology to allow viewers to buy the products they see on screen via a special app.

Delivery Agent has coined the term "t-commerce," for television commerce. The company essentially provides a … Read more

Review: Transfer Mac data to your iPhone and vice versa using ClipAgent for Mac

Clip Agent for Mac allows you to share images and texts between a Mac and an iPhone via Wi-Fi using a clipboard management system. To work, this app requires that you purchase an additional iPhone app. If you're willing to buy this dependent app, you'll be able to quickly sync data between your computer and iPhone, and vice versa.

Clip Agent for Mac installs quickly and features a plain but useable interface. The menu bar offers access to some basic functions such as the ability to add a new item or new text, along with view options and … Read more

Banish briefly flashing Adobe update window in OS X

If you have installed Adobe software on your system, then you likely have installed various accompanying updaters that periodically check for updates from Adobe's support servers. These updaters should run seamlessly in the background; however, there are times when an odd configuration of them may result in annoying distractions.

This may particularly happen if you have updated your system with additional Adobe software, uninstalled and reinstalled (especially after restoring from a backup), or otherwise have modified your Adobe software installation. If affected, the problem may manifest as a brief display of an Adobe-related updater, and may even affect the … Read more

How to monitor XProtect updates in OS X

Apple's XProtect system (aka File Quarantine) in OS X is a rudimentary anti-malware scanner that will perform a quick check on downloaded files to make sure they do not contain known malware, and will block any versions of Web plug-ins like Java and Flash that have known vulnerabilities.

XProtect runs in the background with no interaction with the user, which is convenient, but it does mean that when it gets updated, users may find themselves unexpectedly unable to access some Web content. Even though quickly updating plug-ins should get you around this inconvenience, it may be useful to know … Read more

Permanently request desktop sites on Firefox for Android

Firefox for Android can request desktop versions of sites, but you have to make the request every time you visit a site that loads a mobile version. You can use Firefox add-ons to change the browser user agent string, but if you don't want to install add-ons, you can make the change directly to Firefox. Here's how:

Step 1: In the Firefox address bar, type "about:config" and press Enter.

Step 2: Tap the "Add a New Setting" button, then select "String" as the type.

Step 3: For name, enter "general.… Read more

Mouse input temporarily freezing after updating OS X

After updating OS X to the latest version, you may encounter a problem where the system seems to freeze temporarily in regular periods. In these instances the mouse pointer will freeze in place though the system appears to continue functioning in the background, and the only way to get the mouse working again is to click and move it around erratically, or even unplug and plug it back in.

This and similar problems experienced immediately after updating is likely from an incompatibility with third-party software, especially that which has scheduling options for running at regular intervals, including update checkers, license … Read more

Skype is not helping the feds spy on its users, it says

Skype has come under fire this past week for allegedly letting the U.S. government use its service to spy on its users. The online call service company is now saying that's simply not true.

"Some media stories recently have suggested Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users' interests," Skype Chief Development and Operations Officer Mark Gillett wrote in a blog post today. "Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy."

Skype serves 250 million active users a month and supported 115 billion minutes of calls in the … Read more

How to view desktop versions of Web sites on Firefox for Android

Android smartphone and tablet browsers sometimes load mobile versions of Web sites. On native Android browsers, you can try the about:debug trick to change the user agent to force desktop sites to load. You can also use an alternative browser, like Dolphin Browser HD, which lets you easily change the user agent in its settings.

If you're a Firefox for Android user, you can change the user agent with a simple Firefox add-on called Phony. It works with the new Firefox beta for Android as well, which was released a couple of days ago.

To set up Phony, … Read more

Luxembourg CIRC develops LaunchAgent monitoring tool for OS X

LaunchAgent scripts in OS X can be used to automatically run programs and scripts and are a common route that malware developers use to run their malware in OS X once either the system is exploited or the user has been fooled into installing malware.

Because of this, I recently wrote a procedure for how OS X users can set up notifications that warn whenever changes are made to the various LaunchAgent folders and thereby help detect such attacks, which have been used in some recent and notable malware scams in OS X including DNSChanger, MacDefender, and the most recent … Read more