Me: No chocolate for me, thanks. Girl: Racist!
@funranium I too hate magic.
RT @edoswald: Starting Monday, I will be contributing to @laptopmag. Nice to get back into the daily tech news grind after a long break.
Top 5 ways I've accidentally purchased products online #ishouldwritethat
How the 'Little Guy' Wireless Carriers are Battling AT&T and Verizon #telecommunications http://t.co/V9FFIqolqU
RT @dril: i cna list numerous occasions where i have been discriminated against in a racist fashion just because i am a content creator .
RT @PaulyPeligroso: A great Vine would be to download the app and throw your phone into the fucking sun.
I'm going to put forth a controversial idea: Daft Punk needed to retire like 4 years ago.
Tried to take a picture of Joe Biden...here is the result http://t.co/TiQ8foUkoI
RT @Sharon_Paley: If a story has been on Twitter for more than 20 minutes, it's no longer "breaking."
RT @GusSent: If your news org doesn't have a hard-core social media monitoring and analytics tool like radian6, you're doing it wrong.
Shocker: Gun Salesmen say we can reduce gun deaths if we buy more guns. http://t.co/UpNSxPb81J
Looking for investors to back my "Threaten Entire Internet" browser plug-in. #startups
The thing about April Fool's day is that it gives regular people a look into how skeptical journalists must be ALL THE TIME.
Bacon-flavored things is the new Mojito-flavored things.
RT @roybahat: This guy called it in October of 2011: Android-powered video game consoles: the time is right http://t.co/XMaOIYTO7u @timc ...
"...The Internet exploded," "The Internet went crazy..." and sayings of this ilk this are completely ridiculous. Always.
Man can't believe Company A sold more products than Company B. News at 11.
This past Tuesday Microsoft did its long-awaited Xbox reveal, though the company did not unveil every bit of information that customers were waiting for. For instance, we still do not know pricing or release date. However, the biggest urban legend in circulation -- that of used games -- is under attack from the console maker.
On the day of the big reveal, Larry Hryb took to his blog to assure users "While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail".
These rumors came to head after Adam Orth of Microsoft Studios committed career suicide on Twitter while discussing the possibility of an always-connected console. The spectre of this addition to the next-generation gaming device raises the issue of users no longer being able to play used games, or even game while their internet connection is down.
Now Hryb goes further to reassure customers with an official statement from his company. "The ability to trade in and resell games is important to gamers and to Xbox. Xbox One is designed to support the trade in and resale of games. Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future", the statement reads.
It is not a ringing endorsement, but it is, at least, promising. We will learn more during the time before the retail release, but potential customers should be able to breath a collective sigh of relief for the moment.
Following a cease and desist letter sent by Google little over a week ago, today, Microsoft reaches out to me and announces a new update for its homebrew YouTube Windows Phone 8 app. You might want to contain that burning desire to hit the "Update" button though.
"Microsoft and YouTube are working together to update the new YouTube for Windows Phone app to enable compliance with YouTube’s API terms of service, including enabling ads, in the coming weeks", says the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation. This comes two days after the passing of the deadline to remove the app from the Windows Phone Store.
The deadline was imposed by Google alongside the cease and desist letter, and says that the app must also restrict the ability to download content and enforce playback restrictions "on certain platforms". The former requirement is already fulfilled in the update released two ago.
I asked Microsoft if the upcoming version will also comply with Google's remaining grievance, but the software giant refused to comment: "Nothing more to add at this point, sorry".
Now here's the bad news. "Microsoft will replace the existing YouTube app in Windows Phone Store with the previous version during this time", says the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation. Ouch! The software giant tells me that the version in question is the dreadful pre-May 8 build which was basically the mobile YouTube website dressed as an app.
At the time of writing this article, Microsoft pulled the non-compliant YouTube for Windows Phone 8 app from the Store and has yet to replace it with the old, but complaint, version. The latter, however, does not show ads which is a tad ironic considering Google's grievances.
Today, Microsoft and Google prove that working together is entirely possible, however this only appears to be the case when one company negatively affects the other. Let's hope that this rekindled relationship can smooth the bumps in the road towards Google-branded apps on Windows Phone 8 and more Microsoft-developed software on Android.
The takeaway is that, in order to gain Google's approval, Microsoft must offer an inferior YouTube experience on the tiled operating system. The Windows Phone 8 app no longer offers any advantages over its Android and iOS counterparts. But, hopefully, Google will allow YouTube for Windows Phone 8 to upload content to the popular video-sharing website.
Fans of social media were reassured this week as Twitter finally rolled out two-step verification, ostensibly making the service more secure for its millions of customers. This is a feature that other major companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have already implemented and, on the surface, seemed a victory.
Not so fast. Security researchers at F-Secure are taking a closer look and deem the implementation "not great". The problem, according to Sean Sullivan, is that "an attacker could use SMS spoofing to disable 2FA if he knows the target's phone number".
"The STOP command removes the phone number from the account -- and that in turn disables Twitter's 2FA", says Sullivan, who did extensive testing on this.
The problem is this: Twitter uses SMS as a way to send and receive Tweets. The social network also makes use of SMS for its new authentication service. However, in a statement BetaNews received from Mr. Sullivan, it is pointed out that "Microsoft uses SMS for 2FA, but Twitter is trying to have its cake and eat it too: social security. Twitter added 2FA SMS, but *didn't* adjust how it uses SMS for Tweeting".
Sullivan went on to also point out that "Facebook confirms with a code when you add a phone and it shifted focus from posting status messages via SMS a few years ago". He wraps up his statement by explaining "Microsoft, Google, and Facebook all have account recovery processes. Twitter has just a password reset page. Nothing else. No security words. Nothing".
Twitter, in the course of its announcement, points out this feature is a means of paving the way for future security enhancements. Perhaps those will be better implemented than what has rolled out this week.
Thirtieth in a series. Several stock apps were updated this week. The Xbox Music app supports the import of iTunes playlists in its latest version, and users of the video app benefit from the improved accessibility of actor and director information.
The official Major League Soccer app for Windows 8, MLS MatchDay, has been improved as well featuring "exclusive content and this season’s schedule, standings, highlights, play-by-play, roster lineups, game stats, goals, cards and substitutions" as Alan notes.
The overall app count in the US Windows 8 app store is now 52,521 apps, an increase of 2365 apps in the last seven days and a big jump in growth from last week's 1639 new apps.
Free apps crossed the 40,000 app mark for the first time in store. Currently, 40,683 apps are listed as free to download in the store, an increase of 1686 apps this week.
As far as paid apps are concerned, they increased by 700 apps this week to a total of 11,859 apps.
App of the Week
The official Adobe Photoshop Express app is a basic photo editing application for Windows 8. You can load local photos into the app, photos stored by Adobe's Revel service, or directly transfer a photo from a camera.
The available editing options are displayed at the bottom of the screen:
- Crop the photo.
- Correct the pictures contrast, exposure or white balance.
- Apply filters to the image.
- Correct Red Eyes.
- Use the one-click auto-fix feature.
The objective in this game is to fill rows, columns or grids with distinct numbers. If you place the last number you are awarded points and the tiles are filled with your color.
The player with the most played chips on the board is the winner in the end.
You can score double and triple points in the game if a placed digit completes two or three grids, rows or columns at the same time.
It is an interesting game that shares similarities with Sudoku.
NeroKwik provides you with access to photos on all of your devices, and on the social networking sites Facebook, Google+ and SugarSync storage,
It can take quite some time before photos are displayed. All of your photos, or at least those that the app found, are then displayed in the apps' interface.
You can browse the photos here, or use the photo collage and sharing feature the app provides you with instead. Collages, called tapestries in the app can be shared via email or publicly on Facebook or Google+.
Crossword Fun offers an endless supply of crossword puzzles for you to solve. You can use the cursor keys or the mouse to navigate, and the keyboard to enter your solutions.
The game jumps to the right across and down positions as soon as you change the location on the board which is a nice feature that makes the app more comfortable to use as you do not have to locate the entries manually anymore.
Make sure you switch the skill from regular to master in the options to disable the hint system that is in place automatically. If you don't, the game will indicate wrong letters with a red font color automatically.
A free application displaying the cheapest gas prices near your location, or a location of your choice. You can set a manual location in the apps' preferences by entering a zip code in the location field there.
Note that the app is only tracking gas prices across the US and no other countries.
It displays a selection of stations, their current gas price and location, based on the zip code that you have entered on the frontpage.
A click on a station displays the stations' features, regular, midgrade, premium and diesel pricing, as well as when the current prices where recorded by users of the app.
Sudoku for Free displays random Sudoku puzzles for you to solve. Your tasks in Sudoku is to fill a 9x9 grid with numbers from 1 to 9 in a way that all 3x3 sub-grids, columns and rows contain each number only once.
You add numbers to the board by tapping on a digit on the left and then on the location on the board that you want to place it on. A tap on notations enables you to add possible solutions to a field of the board which may help you solve the puzzle.
You can enable hints in the options that help you solve the puzzle. The game looks really nice but does not offer difficulty levels. If you played Sudoku before, you may find the puzzles too far on the easy side of things.
You play the role of an evil spirit in this puzzle game aiming to drive two lovers apart on the map. This is done by placing rocks on the map that block the path the two lovers can take to reach each other.
The goal of the each map is to increase the shortest route between both characters to exceed a distance displayed to you by the game in the lower half of the screen.
The game keeps you entertained for a short while. You can load different levels and since the characters start in random locations on the map, it is sometimes easier and at other times harder to reach the goal.
Wizard's Choice Chapter 1 (link is broken currently)
This is the first chapter of a series of text adventures that you can play through. The first chapter is free while all remaining chapters are not. It works similar to books of the Lone Wolf series where you are always presented with a set of choices of which you have to pick one.
The app keeps track of your character's health, mana and gold, and it is up to you to make the best out of every situation described to you.
Beautiful images are sometimes added to the textual descriptions which may help you imagine the situation your character is in at that point in time.
If you like Lone Wolf or do not mind playing text-based adventures, this one may definitely be worth checking out.
Pacman is a faithful conversion of the popular arcade game. Eat all dots on the map and avoid being touched by enemies that roam it. When you are touched by an enemy, a life is lost. When all lives are lost, the game ends.
Power dots are located in the four corners of each level that turn the enemies into ghosts that you can now touch to remove them temporarily from the map.
If you manage to eat all dots of a stage you are taken to the next where the game begins from anew.
Have you discovered an app or game in Windows Store this week that you really like? Feel free to mention it in the comments so that we all can take a look at it.
App store numbers grab headlines, but don't matter to users. Both BlackBerry and Windows Phone boast constant ecosystem growth with more than 100,000 apps available in each store, yet neither of the two platforms has managed to assert itself as a viable alternative to Android or iOS. Why? Well, Canalys says that it's the quality of the apps that matters not the quantity.
"At a certain point, how many apps are in a store becomes irrelevant. Offering 100 different unit converters or weather apps is not a valuable choice", says Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd. "What is now far more important for BlackBerry and Microsoft is to focus on plugging inventory gaps and making sure they offer the right apps; to focus on quality and local relevance, not quantity". According to the company's latest report, both BlackBerry and Windows Phone fail to offer many of the popular titles available today, hindering their appeal to potential users.
Where Are the Apps?
Canalys analyzed the top 50 apps available in the free and paid categories on Apple App Store and Google Play and discovered that only 34 percent of them are present in either BlackBerry World or Windows Phone Store. That's based on aggregated rankings over the first 20 days of May. Let's break down the numbers.
Windows Phone Store delivers 16 free and 14 paid top offerings of the two respective categories from Apple App Store and 22 free and 13 paid top apps of the two corresponding categories from Google Play.
BlackBerry World features five free and nine paid top offerings of the two respective categories from Apple App Store and 11 free and 11 paid top apps of the two corresponding categories from Google Play.
Canalys took into account third-party and platform-exclusive offerings (like Find My iPhone) as well as utility apps "for which similar offerings with equivalent functionality are available". As a result, the company says that the outcome is a tad more "optimistic" but still points out that there is a significant gap in BlackBerry World and Windows Phone Store which "cannot and should not be masked".
"These stats underscore the scale of the job Microsoft and BlackBerry each still face in their respective bids to build up their app ecosystems, and to deliver still more compelling - and crucially - genuinely competitive offerings around apps, and both vendors must continue to work hard to rise to the challenge", says Shepherd.
Keeping Users (Un)Appy
Users choose smartphones based on app availability, among other motivating factors, and "it will only become more so", says Shepherd. The man also implies that if BlackBerry and Windows Phone don't offer more quality apps, users might head to a different platform that does.
"Simply, Windows Phone and BlackBerry customers do not want to miss out on apps (or app features) from important and locally relevant brands, or the latest games, because of their choice of smart phone. It is therefore imperative for the success of both Windows Phone and BlackBerry that their respective app ecosystems attract and offer the high-quality content that consumers want and would otherwise miss", says Shepherd.
As a Windows Phone 8 user, I couldn't agree more. Critical apps and games, like Instagram, Google Maps or Temple Run 2, are still missing from the Store (which now boasts 145,000 apps) and have been for quite some time. Time is ticking. BlackBerry tells a similar story with its own app store, which lags behind any of its competitors in regards to sheer numbers (120,000 apps) and popular offerings.
Microsoft appears to be on the right track with Windows Phone, offering a decent selection of apps from major international and local brands. But the software giant also has to target "the next few hundred popular, valued and sought-after titles in each market [Apple App Store and Google Play]" and "build hype and interest around its platform", says Canalys.
The Windows Phone ecosystem however lacks momentum compared to BlackBerry World which received major titles like Skype and Angry Birds Star Wars (neither of which is actually new) and capitalizes on developer support. The platform gained more than 50,000 apps in merely three and a half months, which is a commendable achievement.
But can BlackBerry and Windows Phone beef up their ecosystems in a timely manner? Tick tock, tick tock...
Google is all about searching. Well… not "all" about, but it's what the company is known for. Any firm that logs information about how customers are using its services are usually berated, but Google Trends can provide a fascinating insight into how the rest of the world is using the internet. This tool has been available for a while but there's now a sexy new full screen mode available -- and you can turn it into a screensaver.
If you've ever been curious about what people in other parts of the world are searching for, head over to the full screen visualization tool and you can find out. At the bottom of the screen you can choose from one of several countries, or opt to see an overview of global searches.
By default you'll be shown a single search at a time, displayed on a background in one of Google's four colors. Want to see more? Whizz your mouse up to the upper left of the page and hover over the 3x3 grid icon that appears. In the popup you can then select a number of search tiles that should be displayed -- each shows a different search term, and the display can become quite mesmerizing.
As you change country and tile options, you may well notice that the URL in the address bar changes. Each setting change results in a unique URL, and this can be exploited to turn Google Trends into a rainbow search screensaver. When you've chosen a view you like, copy the address to the clipboard.
Turning a web address into a screensaver isn’t something that's built into Windows, but there's a great free screensaver tool hosted on Google Projects. Download a copy of Web Page Screensaver (it's free), and move the .scr file to C:\Windows\System32.
The screensaver can then be configured from the Display Control Panel -- right-click the desktop and select Personalize before clicking the Screen Saver icon at the lower right of the window. Select Web-Page-Screensaver from the drop down menu, click Settings and paste the URL you copied earlier.
Now when your computer is idle, global web searches will be displayed on your screen. It's hardly an incentive to get on with work, but it looks cool and is an interesting way to keep up with what’s happening in the world.
There are various other search visualization options available on the Google Trends page.
European operators have been asked not to go ahead with the launch of the HTC First planned for this summer. The phone comes with Facebook Home which replaces the standard Android screens with its own social media interface.
Home has been available for download to other Android devices too but hasn't proved popular with users. UK mobile operator EE has issued a statement making it clear that Facebook is behind the decision not to launch saying, "Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customisation features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK." Orange in France has made a similar statement.
Facebook confirmed the news saying, "While we focus on making Home better, we are going to limit supporting new devices and think it makes a lot of sense for EE and Orange to hold off deploying the HTC First in Europe."
Pre-orders for the phone will be cancelled whilst Facebook returns to the drawing board. EE has said it will contact customers who have shown an interest in the device. The decision is bad news for the social network which has seen its usage rates dropping in the UK and which needs to boost its mobile presence to gain advertising revenue.
The Android web browser market is a packed one, and users are almost spoiled for choice. If you're a fan of Firefox, Chrome or Opera on your main computer, there's an accompanying mobile version for you to work with, and there are plenty of others as well.
The GO Launcher Dev Team is best known -- it should go without saying -- for the Android launcher GO Launcher EX, but it has now branched out and is bringing its stylish looks to a web browser -- Next Browser.
Like many of the other apps from the same team, Next Browser has a clean, Holo look but it is the features that are going to make or break it. The app borrows ideas from many of its existing competitors, including tabbed browsing, a speed dial screen, a combined search and URL bar, and bookmark syncing.
Support for plugins means that the browser's feature set can be further extended and this is something that is sure to make Next Browser extremely popular, especially as more and more add-ons are released.
Voice searching is available, but this is not the only means of interacting with the browser. There is good use of gesture support in the app. Swipe down to close a tab, swipe left to access extensions, and swipe right to access Next View. This handy page provides a quick overview of headlines and stories from various websites.
Could this be the browser to rule them all? Maybe not, but it's a decent alternative to the big names and shows great signs of promise.
Next Browser is available free of charge from Google Play.
Remote control apps are increasingly versatile, allowing smartphone and tablet users to access and manage computers from the workplace, a holiday resort or the couch in my case. For Windows Phone 8 users the most popular choice is PC Remote but, late-yesterday, another app hit the Store.
"Many Windows Phone users have asked for Splashtop", says Splashtop CEO Mark Lee. "We are excited to partner with Nokia and Microsoft to optimize and deliver the best-in-class Splashtop experience for Windows Phone 8". The app allows folks to remotely access Linux, OS X and Windows-based computers straight from the tiled operating system. Let's take a look at the features.
With Splashtop 2 for Windows Phone 8 users can remotely access and edit files, open applications (and play games), watch videos, stream music, move the mouse cursor and control various functions of the operating system. For instance, accessing a Windows 8 PC gives users the ability to trigger the Charms and Start menus or switch between multiple monitors.
The app, unlike PC Remote, automatically matches the resolution of the Windows Phone 8 device to the connected computer screens. That's a tad annoying as the former is restricted to 1280 by 768 whereas even basic laptops come with larger resolution displays (like 1366 by 768, 1600 by 900 or 1920 by 1080).
Splashtop 2 requires users to install a server application on computers (multiple ones can be controlled) and log in with a Splashtop account on each device. The latter makes the app easy to use in different scenarios, as folks no longer have to know and type in IP addresses and ports in order to enable a connection.
Splashtop 2, "in coordination with Nokia and Microsoft", is free for Windows Phone 8 users until August 31. There is no word on pricing afterwards.
Splashtop 2 is available to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Internet Explorer’s tight integration into Windows 8, coupled with the fact that IE10 is actually pretty good, means the veteran browser is enjoying something of a resurgence these days. Humorous advertising poking fun at the browser’s past (while distancing itself from it) has also encouraged many ex-users to take a fresh look.
I chatted with Internet Explorer’s Marketing Manager Rebecca Wolff about the "Browser you loved to hate" campaign, asked her what major changes we can expect to see in IE11, and found out why embracing web standards is now a major priority for Microsoft.
BN: Has the "Browser you loved to hate" campaign changed public opinion of Internet Explorer?
RW: We’ve seen some great feedback from the community on the campaign and our videos like "Do you know this guy?" and "Child of the 90s." In a little over a year since we launched the campaign, we’ve had over 35 million total video views worldwide, so we know we’re reaching some new users and reconnecting with some old ones, hopefully piquing their interest about the entirely new Internet Explorer. IE has been posting some of its highest share numbers in years the past few months, so that’s pretty encouraging too.
BN: Are there any areas where you know you can be doing better?
RW: When it comes to the web, it can never be fast enough and safe enough, so even where we’re leading in performance like hardware accelerated graphics and malware protection with SmartScreen, we know we’ll just keep investing. We see touch performance as the new measuring stick for fast, so we hold the bar very high for what great touch performance for the real web means -- pages that pan and zoom with buttery smoothness and a user experience that really embraces the great capabilities of new mobile touch devices like Surface.
BN: Any major changes to look forward to IE11?
RW: We don’t have any additional information on future versions of IE or Windows to share today, but suffice it to say it’s going to build on a lot of the great work we did with IE10. Of course, if you want just a little hint, there’s always this Vine…
BN: Do you have any idea of how the browser is being used in Windows 8 -- by which I mean, what percentage are using the Modern UI version vs. desktop.
RW: We’re getting great feedback from our customers on both experiences, and the immersive experience in the Windows 8 UI is getting particularly high marks from people for things like gaming, watching movies or reading web content. People also tell us how much they like multi-tasking with it -- snapping a web page alongside another app, for example. We don’t typically provide percentage breakouts for usage, but our internal telemetry from millions of Windows 8 users through the opt-in customer experience program shows that tablet users spend the majority of their browsing time in the Windows 8 UI, which is great since we built the modern IE10 experience to be perfect for touch on a tablet.
BN: What are the challenges of developing two versions of the same browser?
BN: What kind of innovations will we see in future versions of Internet Explorer?
RW: We don’t have any specific information on future versions of IE to share, but touch will continue to be a big area of focus for us. As more and more touch devices come to market, we want to keep raising the bar on responsiveness and the best ways to experience web browsing on modern, touch devices.
BN: Will we get to see the Chrome and Windows 8 style login and sync feature added to IE?
RW: Again, we can’t speak to any new features coming to future versions of IE just yet, but I think our customers are going to like what they see. We do currently sync your IE Favorites (or bookmarks), Pinned Sites, and browser history across Windows 8 PCs that are connected to your Microsoft Account.
BN: Why can’t newer versions of IE run on Windows XP?
RW: Starting with IE9, we started to really take advantage of both a modern OS like Windows 7 and modern PC hardware -- tapping into things like the GPU with hardware acceleration. With both IE9 and IE10, we want to ensure users have the best possible experience, which means being on modern hardware with a modern OS -- so that we can offer features like hardware accelerated HTML5.
BN: Why the sudden interest in HTML5 and other assorted open web standards?
RW: We know all too well about the issues of a single browser ecosystem and the barriers that creates for innovation. We don’t want to go down that road again and so we really started to change things up with IE9. That was a significant release for us in terms of showing our commitment to supporting web standards, and we continued that with IE10, which has a 60 percent increase in supported modern web standards. We’ve also doing more to help developers write cross-browser and cross-platform with tools and resources like modern.IE, and providing examples -- including code samples -- of what can be done on the web through experiences like the The Hunger Games Explorer and Contre Jour. This will continue to be a huge focus for us moving forward too.
BN: Any features you admire in other browsers?
RW: We’ve been pushing support for modern web standards and interoperability across all browsers for some time now. It’s great to see the continued development to these standards and the specs that come out from standards bodies like the W3C from the folks at Google, Mozilla, Apple and Opera. You may have seen this recently with the cross-platform pointer events work. With this common goal of having the same markup run across all browsers, web developers can spend less time worrying about coding to a particular browser and instead spend more time building great web sites and web experiences. I’d also give a shout out to Mozilla’s efforts around privacy and how there are trying to better protect users online with privacy protections in Firefox.
A week ago BBC iPlayer finally made its debut on Windows Phone 8, but the existing Android version has been far from forgotten about. BBC iPlayer 1.7 has hit Google Play and now boasts support for 10 inch tablets.
While owners of larger tablets previously had to pay a visit to the iPlayer website, UK viewers can now enjoy their favorite programmes directly in the app. If you're nursing a smaller 7-incher, there's no need to feel left out. The UI for more diminutive tablet and phones has been updated with a few tweaks as well.
Anyone holding out for the video downloads that are already enjoyed by users of the iOS version of the app may take heart in the update description. Developers state that "work continues" on this feature, although no timeframe is suggested.
The app can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play.
We’re used to the somewhat spooky way that websites track our every move. Notice how the adverts on various sites reflect the products you’ve been viewing elsewhere? You only have to look at a CD on Play and Amazon will be trying to sell it to you within hours. We’re used to the GPS tracker on our smartphones monitoring where we are all the time and pointing us towards local attractions too.
Well now this technology is starting to spread to other devices too. The BBC has used the Thinking Digital conference to trial a perceptive radio. Developed by the BBC's Future Media North Laboratory, the radio uses information about where you live to change the listening experience by referencing local places or weather conditions. It also monitors the background noise at your location so it can decide whether to boost certain sounds to enhance the listening experience. The idea is to provide an "immersive" broadcast that can reconfigure the content for each listener.
It's either a great idea or a creepy one depending on your viewpoint. And if it only broadcasts the things it thinks you want to hear how will you ever discover anything new?
Another worrying aspect is, once your radio thinks it has your best interests at heart, how long will it be before your other domestic appliances start getting in on the act? Will your fridge reject anything that isn’t compatible with your diet, or insist on only local produce? Maybe your alarm clock will refuse to process the snooze button on work days. Or your TV will insist on you watching a set number of mind improving documentaries before it lets you tune into a soap.
When your radio knows where you live it's only a short step to other gadgets knowing where you are and what you're doing all the time and trying to "improve" your life accordingly. What was all that stuff about Big Brother...?
I recently wrote about some strange but awesome Windows 8 ads geared towards the Japanese market. It appeared that people across the internet were pretty down on them as the ads didn’t say anything about the OS. My point in the article was to show that there are different types of advertising and sometimes companies need to get our attention in some pretty unusual ways.
I’ve been very critical of Microsoft’s advertising approach with Windows 8 and especially Surface. Although the company has increased the frequency of its advertising and is advertising more of its products, there was one area in particular where it was lacking: a strong focus on features against competitor products. None of this was more apparent than its approach with Windows 8 and Windows tablets. I previously wrote,
I’d still like to see Microsoft focus more specifically on features of these products that make them better than the competition. Take the Surface commercials for example. I absolutely loved the way Microsoft first introduced us to the product: remember the commercial with the dancing school girls? Loved it. And now the company is running a slightly different twist on that with dancing business users to introduce the Surface Pro. Almost six months on the market and all we know about the Surface is that it clicks…and you can dance with it.
Microsoft wasn’t saying much about why the typical consumer should choose the Surface or any Windows 8 mobile device above the iPad. Until now. This week two commercials were uploaded to YouTube. Both completely focus on features and clearly explain why consumers should choose Windows devices over an iPad. One of the ads, which my colleague Wayne Williams looked at yesterday, is quite funny as it uses Siri to take shots at iPad weaknesses, and the other, embedded below, simply pits the iPad against the ASUS VivoTab RT and compares thickness, weight, suitability for work use, multi-tasking, external connections, and the ability to print. Naturally the VivoTab wins hands down.
For those of you who don’t like the fact that Microsoft is taking a dig at Apple, I remind you that this is precisely the approach that Apple took to get attention for Mac OS. Remember the "I’m a Mac" switcher campaign? I thought so.
So what do you think? Is Microsoft on track with these? Will these convince consumers to go out and buy Windows devices?
Removing malware used to be fairly easy, at least in principle. Detect the infection, kill any running processes and files, and that’s it -- finished.
These days, unfortunately, life can be more difficult. Some malware will actively try to block any attempts to remove it, perhaps preventing you from running antivirus tools, locking its files, maybe restarting itself if necessary. This can be frustratingly effective, too, but there are ways to fight back. And KillEmAll is a great place to start.
As you might guess from the name, the program’s approach isn’t exactly subtle. Launch KillEmAll and it will immediately try to close everything but non-essential system processes. There’s no warning about this, either, so beware -- if you’ve unsaved work in a document somewhere then it’ll almost certainly be lost. Otherwise, though, if there is malware running then hopefully it will closed down with everything else. And once this is done, an antivirus scan may stand a better chance of detecting and removing the threat.
There are no guarantees, of course. The malware may prevent KillEmAll from running. It might prevent itself from being closed down, or have another component which restarts it whenever necessary. But if you’re manually malware-hunting then the program is a good first step, and if it doesn’t work immediately then there are other things you can try.
Hold down Shift as you launch KillEmAll, for instance, and the program elevates itself to the system account. This gives it more rights and a better chance of closing down any malware, plus it’ll restart itself if malware tries to close the program down.
If the program seems to work, but your regular antivirus tool can’t find anything, then there are various options which might be able to help. There’s a button to launch a Google search on a process name, for instance. You can upload a file to VirusTotal to try and identify malware. If you’re absolutely sure the file is dangerous, you can try to delete it, or there are a couple of "Rename" options if you’re more cautious (you can always restore the file later, if it turns out to be innocent).
And if you find KillEmAll keeps closing some vital processes, then you’re able to add them to a whitelist, and they’ll be left alone.
On balance, this isn’t a program you should take lightly. Closing multiple processes is dangerous, and there’s no way of telling what might happen. Again, you get no warning of this -- just launch KillEmAll and it leaps into action. And using the other tools to rename or delete executables can also cause plenty of problems; it’s not something to try unless you’re entirely sure what you’re doing (and probably not even then).
But if you really are at the last resort -- the regular antivirus tools have let you down, and a manual cleanup is the only option left -- then KillEmAll is a very useful tool to have in your armory. Go grab a copy for yourself (just don’t run the program until it’s needed).
Photo Credit: lolloj/
The cloud has become a battleground these days between heavyweight companies, and Box has remained in the fight. Today the company takes another step towards securing its location in the corporate future with three new features in the Box admin console designed to make the service easier to deploy.
An improved content manager, granular co-admin permission options, and the ability to prevent users from permanently deleting content are all heading the way of IT administrators.
According to Box's Annie Pearl, "we’re continuing this momentum today with three powerful new features that make managing a complex, enterprise-wide deployment dead simple".
Content manager is an optional tab contained in the admin console and available exclusively only to those in the beta program. This helps admins view the content each user has access to and also search for specific files and folders. The Quick Note feature is not yet available, but Box promises that if you contact the company, it can be enabled for testing.
Finally, Box also releases tools for fine-tuning permissions and the ability to prevent users from permanently deleting items they’ve moved to the trash.
Box is hoping that these three tools will help customers get past the complexity of managing content, users and roles in today's highly connected organizations. It also, of course, hopes this keeps the cloud service in the race with rivals like Dropbox, which announced Single Sign-on yesterday, and other competitors such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Google has released Chrome for Android 27, a major update to its open-source browser for Android smartphones and tablets. Version 27 boasts several key new features, including full-screen support on smartphones and the ability to access a history of previously opened tabs on tablet machines.
A key improvement on all platforms is the simplified searching tool. When using the omnibox to search the net, it will remain visible when displaying search results, making it easier to both view and edit searches.
Chrome for Android 27 also introduces client-side certificate support. This means users can now access sites that require certificates, selecting an installed certificate using the browser when applicable.
Of the platform-specific improvements, smartphone users can now switch to full-screen mode to maximise screen real estate simply by scrolling down the page -- the toolbar will disappear, reappearing only when users scroll back to the top of the page again. Tablet users gain access to tab history in turn -- simply tap and hold the browser’s back button and the history will appear for easy retrieval.
The update is rounded off with what Google describes as "a ton" of stability and performance fixes. The update follows hot on the heels of Google Chrome 27 FINAL for desktop, which promises faster web page loading times and improved spell correction among other changes.
Google Chrome 27.0.1453.90 is available now as a free, open-source download for Android-powered smartphones and tablets.
On Thursday, little under a month after the smartphone's global launch, the Galaxy S4 finally arrives at US mobile operator Verizon. The handset is available now at big red for $199.99, alongside a two-year contract, in either Black Mist or White Frost.
Today, rival mobile operator AT&T revealed that the Aurora Red Galaxy S4 comes exclusively through its online and brick and mortar stores (pre-orders start tomorrow). Tough luck for Verizon customers looking to grab the smartphone in the red trim, which is a tad ironic considering the carrier's logo (yes, it's red).
Verizon customers can also purchase Samsung's Android flagship with a month to month service. This raises the price to $649.99, which is on par with the Google-branded Galaxy S4 announced at Google I/O. The latter version will be available with 4G LTE connectivity, starting June 26, directly through the search giant's Play store.
The Verizon-branded Galaxy S4 packs a 5.0-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920; 1.9 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor; Adreno 320 GPU (Graphics Processing Unit); 2 GB of RAM: 2,600 mAh battery; 16 GB of internal storage; microSD card slot; 13 MP back-facing and 2 MP front-facing cameras capable of 1080p video recording; Bluetooth 4.0; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; NFC; 4G LTE connectivity and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Evernote continues to evolve in its quest to keep up with (and even outpace) Microsoft's OneNote. The service is already available on all the major platforms, and today adds a new feature which a lot of users have been asking about for some time -- Reminders.
"For the millions and millions of people around the world that use Evernote everyday to achieve their goals, we’re excited to announce a new part of Evernote that will keep you on track every step of the way. Reminders are here", says Evernote's Andrew Sinkov.
This update contains what Sinkov terms the company's three most requested features: in-app and email alarms, quick note-based to-do lists, and the ability to pin notes to the top of your adjacent list. Users can also now add a Reminder to a note by simply tapping on the alarm clock icon located at the top of the document on Mac and Web, or at the bottom of it on iPhone and iPad. If you like, you can set a date and time for when this task must be completed. Now you will get an in-app alarm and, optionally, an email on the day that a Reminder is due.
The company also points out that "to keep your Reminders nicely organized, we’ve made them notebook-based. Whenever you add a Reminder to a note, it will appear in the Reminder section within that notebook".
So, if you are like me and tend to forget important things, like what to pick up at the store, a friend's birthday or...oh say...your anniversary (just for example, of course) then this new functionality will make Evernote a life-saver.
On Thursday, following user demand, Mailbox released an update for its iOS mail app that introduces support for iPads. The service, which delivers more than 100 million messages each day, was previously available as an iPhone-only affair.
Mailbox boasts a better organized and easier to manage inbox, allowing its users to take advantage of swipe gestures to archive or trash messages. Similar to alarm clocks, the app also offers the option to snooze emails in order to receive them at a later date in the inbox.
Mailbox is designed as an alternative to the default iOS Mail app, however it falls short in supporting multiple types of accounts and providers (like Exchange, Outlook.com, POP or Yahoo). Gmail is the only option currently available, but other "email platforms" will arrive "soon".
In mid-March, Mailbox was acquired by Dropbox with the promise to make the service "even better and getting it into as many people's hands as possible". One of the first steps should be supporting Outlook.com and Yahoo, two of the largest email providers today.
Mailbox is available to download from Apple's App Store.
Google may be most readily associated with the Internet, apps and mobile devices, but the company has many more strings to its bow. Google X -- the secretive research and development division best known for Project Glass and the driverless car -- has acquired Mikani Power, a green energy company that generates power with flying turbines.
Ground-based wind turbines are common all over the world, but Mikani Power takes a slightly different approach. Using wings fitted with miniature turbines it is possible to generate power with a series of self-piloted kites. Successful tests have been conducted on a 30kW prototype model, with plans to scale up to 600kW in the future.
By placing turbines at an altitude of between 250 and 600m, it is possible to harness more consistent wind power. The manoeuvrability of the wings means that they can adapt and reposition according to weather conditions, and easily land if wind speeds become too high -- a problem that can lead to traditional wind turbines becoming damaged.
The acquisition is not completely out of the blue. Since 2006, Google has invested a total of $15m in the company.