Here: the Microsoft Band

October 31st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

microsoft band 300x128 Here: the Microsoft BandThe Microsoft Band is here!

In the latest in this season’s Battle of the Wrists, Microsoft Band, along with a related online service, Microsoft Health, will analyse the data from the band and other devices to help people with their fitness goals.

It’s fairly straightforward design is no great shakes, and it does all the basic things like Facebook and paying for coffee and that, but it also has sensors in the device will continuously track heart rate, sleep quality and calories burned.

Also, as a bonus, it will cost $199 (£125), which is a great deal cheaper than the Apple Watch due in the new year, which starts at $349 (£220).

Obviously the good will out as users will start to figure out which is the best and most reliable phones, especially if they take their exercise seriously.

However, according to a recent survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that about a third of respondents who purchased a wearable device more than a year ago now say they no longer use it or do so infrequently.

So a case of the Emperor’s new wristwatch all round, if the wearable market becomes a flash gadget arena for people with too much money.

EE offers up 4G+

October 31st, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

zzzw EE offers up 4G+EE have launched its next generation 4G+ in London.

They claim this G is better than all the other Gs, as it offers download speeds of up to 150MBps and averages of 90Mbps – five times faster than the average UK broadband connection.

However – as is always the way with EE – there’s a caveat: availability is quite limited in the UK, so it’s literally running before it can walk.

First up you will need a 4G+ compatible smartphone (EE only offers two: Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4). Whereas non-EE smartphones that are 4G+ compatible include Motorola’s Nexus 6, Huawei’s Ascend Mate 7 and LG’s G3.

And when they say London, they don’t mean Lambeth or Crouch End or White City, they mean Shoreditch, Old Street, Westminster and Kensington.

They hope this will be expanded to the whole of Greater London by June 2015 and then on to Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

The new 4G+ connection brings the UK up to speed with the world’s most connected countries – including South Korea, Japan and the US – and places it ahead of most other European countries.

So, swings and roundabouts.

Toyota ad banned

October 30th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

An advert for that Toyota Yaris Hybrid has been banned.

A whopping 74 viewers were so enraged by the advert, seemingly encouraging dangerous driving, that they felt moved to register a moan about it.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad featured various drivers and passengers enjoying various tunes that were transmitted to their GPS, the edited version of the UK advert focussed on Bruno Mars’ song ‘Locked Out of Heaven’. If the were really driving dangerously, they’d surely be thrown into heaven?

Perhaps we could address some priorities here and suggest the complainants are whinging about the wrong element of the ad, and should focus their ire on Mr Mars.

Toyota defended the ad and told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the car adhered to the speed limit and there were no shots of it travelling fast, competitively or in a daring manner.

They said they tried to portray that both the driver and passengers in the car were having a good time whilst driving, as it wanted to “dispel the myth that drivers cannot have fun whilst driving safely”.

They also denied that the female driver had her eyes closed at any point, which was another point singled out as a complaint. Again, priorities people.

ITV, which broadcast the TV version of the advert, said no viewers had complained to its Viewer Services, and YouTube, which ran the ad online, agreed.

The ASA said that singing along with Bruno Mars is fine (sheesh) but it was concerned that viewers would believe that the closed eyed lady wasn’t paying attention to the onslaught of the road.

The ads must not appear again in their current form and Toyota was told to ensure its ads do not depict dangerous driving in future.

That’s them told.

public wifi Government turn public buildings into WiFi hotspot heaven!The government are turning over 1,000 public buildings into Wi-Fi hotspots!

Over the next few months, places such as libraries, museums, civic centres, transport hubs, sporting complexes and other buildings around the UK will begin to offer free Wi-Fi.

Now you literally have no escape from the bad rays of modernity. Some have already started doing it, and the plan is to get all of them up and running by March 2015.

According to the official Government website: “Millions of citizens, business men and women and visitors will be able to take advantage of free connectivity across the UK, which in turn will support our cities in becoming even more attractive places to live, do business, visit and invest in”.

Which sounds like the sort of speech you hear just before the population’s brains are harvested by killer robot overlords. Sadly the government nonsense bingo card fails to find ‘hard working’ in that statement. Perhaps it was the first draft.

It’s all part of the Government’s £150m SuperConnected Cities programme aimed at transforming the digital capability of UK cities, ensuring our cities boast world-class connectivity and are equipped to deal with the increasing demands of the digital age.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey chipped in with: “The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous improvement and is all part of the Government’s long term economic plan. For business, visitors and the UK public, accessing wifi in our cities is absolutely vital. These free hotspots will be instrumental in making UK cities even more appealing as places to not only do business, but to visit as well.”

Moto 360: Launches in the UK

October 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

moto 360 300x225 Moto 360: Launches in the UKA month later than intended, Motorola have finally got around to launching the Moto 360 smart watch in the UK.

You can get one of these smartwatches for £199.99 and there’s a whole bunch of designs available for those of you with vain wrists. As a sweetener, Motorola will also be offering up the Moto X smartphone with £60 off.

However, Motorola have said that purchases are limited to two watches per person while stocks last. Sadly for Motorola, the smartwatch went on sale and, while the grey design sold out, the black version was still available to buy like no-one is particularly arsed about them.

The 360 runs on Google’s Android Wear OS and features a round face that makes it appear similar to a regular wristwatch and on the face is a 1.5in circular display complete with a 320 x 290 pixel resolution that delivers 205ppi.

It can also contain 4GB of onboard storage, and 512MB of RAM with a wireless charging dock included to plug in the Moto 360. It is also water resistant, has Bluetooth connectivity, and will eventually have a choice of a metal or leather strap while supporting voice recognition, and contains a heart rate monitor and pedometer.

Your phone will need to run Google Android 4.3 or higher to work with your Moto 360, but if you take the company up on their Moto X offer, you’ll be in like Flynn.

halal test 300x163 Check everything is pork free with the Halal test kitA food testing kit which allow you to check if your purchase is Halal or not could soon be a thing in the UK.

Halal Test, which launched in France this week by French start-up Capital Biotech, uses immunochromatography, which is the same technology used for pregnancy tests, to detect traces of pork in food, cosmetics and medicines.

The portable test, which costs €6.90 each or €125 for a pack of 25, had already attracted considerable interest from several companies in the UK and further afield.

Halal Test is currently available only in France through traditional retail channels or online, but the makers of the kits reckon the UK is a very interesting market to develop further.

The test is packaged with a small tube into which a food sample is mixed with warm water. A test strip is then inserted into the tube, and after a few minutes reveals whether any pork traces are present by displaying two lines for a positive result and one for a negative result.

It can also sniff out alcohol in food products too, like a proper party pooper. The company is also developing a test that can detect how an animal was killed too. It’s all glamour, basically.

Capital Biotech said: “There are similar tests which use similar technology, but they are much more complicated to use, and require a special liquid extraction buffer usually containing ethanol. We concentrated our research efforts to simplify the use of these tests and get rid of the liquid extraction buffer, which makes them easy to use by anyone and anywhere.”

Imagine that – going to a restaurant and pulling out a mini laboratory and making the rest of your family wait for your findings while their food goes cold.

Twitpic not quite dead after all

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

twitpic 300x300 Twitpic not quite dead after allTwitter has calmed down and sort-of saved Twitpic. If you missed the news, Twitpic had basically had enough, and was going to shut down for good on October 25th, which was nice for them, but they didn’t exactly bugle about it.

Twitter – who launched in 2008 – has now reached an agreement with Twitpic, after a dispute over a trademark application last month.

Now both parties have agreed to keep the service open, although how much content it has kept hold of is in question, but Twitpic has promised that users can still view stuff already stored on there.

In a final blog post, Twitpic founder Noah Everett said that the service will go into read-only mode and will no longer host new photos.

“We weren’t able to find a way to keep Twitpic independent. However, I’m happy to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to give them the Twitpic domain and photo archive, thus keeping the photos and links alive for the time being,” he said.

Basically, the Twitpic iOS and Android apps will no longer accept new uploads, and both have been removed from their respective stores.

Users will simply be able to log in to their account, then view, export, download or delete photos, but not add. So it will become like another dead internet space full of your shit.

Futurewatch: Windowless planes

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Windowless planes could soon be a thing if a UK developer gets their way.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), has unveiled a video showing the technology, which has the screens replicating what is outside the plane and showing places and points of interest such as other aircraft and the International Space Station in real-time.

The giant, flexible OLED screens will show a real time view of the places you’re flying over, but might get a bit oppressive what with the whole ‘no natural light’ drawback.

However they can be powered down for a kip on long haul flights or show other content like in-flight movies and commercials… which would be a bit like flying in a giant airborne tube of adverts.

Here’s a video about it:

Apparently, the environment – something planes are keen fans of – is the overall winner. Windows in planes actually require the fuselage to be strengthened, and without them planes would be lighter and consume less fuel.

The CPI thinks OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) could be harnessed to make the screens, and that this technology will be all over the shop within the next ten years.

Dr Helliwell of the CPI said.”What would be great would be to make devices based on OLEDs that are flexible. We can make transistors that are flexible but if we can make OLEDs that are flexible, that gives us a lot of potential in the market because we can print OLEDs on to packaging, we can create flexible displays,”

“We are talking about [the idea] now because it matches the kind of development timelines that they have in the aerospace industry.

“So you could have a display next to a seat if you wanted it; you could have a blank area next to a seat if you wanted it; you would have complete flexibility as to where you put [the panel screens]. You could put screens on the back of the seats in the middle and link them to the same cameras.”

Fancy that! Keep an eye on Ryanair with this though. They might not give natural light panels, but windowless planes is something you can see them going for.

Google Inbox unveils new design

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

googlemail 300x168 Google Inbox unveils new designGoogle’s Inbox email app has been redesigned, which thw=ey reckon is now “a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what matters”.

The Inbox introduces new features including bundling – which gives people the option to group all sorts of stuff together like emails and receipts.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome & Apps, says Inbox was developed to tackle issues around email including “important information buried inside messages” and “our most important tasks slipping through the cracks”.

“Inbox will even display useful information from the web that wasn’t in the original email, such as the real-time status of your flights and package deliveries.”

There’s also various assists to help users remember to get in touch with shops, people and what have you, by supplying you with the phone number and will tell you if the shop is open or not.

Inbox by Google is also one of the first Google products to use Google’s new Material design direction. Unveiled in June, the Material features updated colours, icons, typography and imagery guidelines.

Google is currently sending out the first round of invitations to use Inbox.

Hold tight.

No power cuts this Winter, vows Davey

October 27th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

day2energy bkgd2 660x852 232x300 No power cuts this Winter, vows DaveyThere will be no power cuts this Winter. That, is what UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, has vowed.

The government were moved to comment on the unrest that the UK could be thrown back into the 1970s when it was power cuts ahoy. Davey has also claimed that a back-up plan is ready to be set in motion should anything actually go wrong.

One of the plans involve is where firms could be paid to generate their own electricity and factory production could be shifted to non-peak times.

Fears of what was called an ‘energy crunch’ were heightened after several fires and incidents at power stations, along with the closure of others.

Davey said: “We have extra contingencies on top of the caution, and extra contingencies on top of the contingencies.”

“They [the companies] volunteer to get payments – if the National Grid say, ‘we want you to come off the national grid for a few hours and generate your own power’, you will get paid for that. That is cheaper for the consumer than building an extra power plant. Cheaper, quicker and industry likes it.”

“And some companies would change their behaviour, voluntarily, and be recompensed for it. Turning down their refrigerators by a degree, or changing a shift pattern for a week so staff come in earlier… the idea is to move factory production away from peak demand periods.”

The UK is looking down the barrel of an energy crunch over the next two winters when the capacity margin – how much its total generating capacity outstrips expected peak demand – is expected to shrink to as little as 2%.

In addition to all this, Davey also advised households that they could be saving £200 by choosing a new energy tariff: “I want people to get a better deal on their energy bills. Some of the new smaller suppliers are cutting prices and forcing bigger players to respond. Over two million people switched energy supplier between last October and March this year as competition hots up.”

Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooks

October 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

cyber crime 300x223 Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooksHalf of the UK have been victims of cyber crime! According to a new report.

Well, they say ‘half’, but based on a survey of 2000 web users, 51% said they’d been affected by online scams, phishing, ID theft or some pesky virus.

The report by the Get Safe Online organisation, also said that many victims are left emotionally scarred by the experience.

Which is about right. You DO feel a bit vulnerable and freaked out that some arse has buggered your online-scene up.

Half of the victims said they felt violated by their ordeal and rued clicking on that link for free glans/baps (delete as appropriate). Only 14% of the affected felt they’d achieved any kind of redress after the matter either.

Also, a report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, released to coincide with Get Safe Online Week, claimed that online scams raked in £670m between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.

However an upshot of all this, has meant that those who have been violated then got heavy with web protection and not being so free and easy with their online behaviour.

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online reckons this, by saying “Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’, and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished.”

“The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Meanwhile Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude threw his weight in and said the figures underlined the importance of doing everything possible to shore up the UK’s cyber defences, saying: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80bn a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good, but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year.”

“We have an £860m Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement’s response to cybercrime, and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.”

Twitter introduce Digits

October 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Twitter Logo1 Twitter introduce DigitsTwitter have announced a new thing called Digits. The service will allow users to log in to third-party apps using their phone number as a unique identity rather than a password.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have long enabled customers to sign into third party apps and websites using their existing login information, rather than creating a new login account specifically for that website.

The idea behind Digits, is that it simplifies logins, and providing demographic information to web developers.

Digits allows users to login to mobile apps using their phone number alone. After downloading an app, the user simply has to enter their phone number, and the app will verify it by sending a text message to that number and reading it automatically.

According to CEO, the never not funny Dick Costolo: “This is an entirely new native mobile sign up service that makes mobile-first sign-up frictionless, and creates an identity relationship entirely between you and your users,”

“We power it – we make it easy for you to communicate with your users – but that identity relationship is between you and them, not some third party. We power it and then we get out of the way.”

Digits is part of Twitter’s new development program Fabric, aimed at giving developers the tools to develop apps that can hook up with Twitter. The technology will be available in 216 countries and 18 languages, and will be free for developers to use.

Amazon Fire TV, available for £79

October 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

amazon fire Amazon Fire TV, available for £79Amazon Fire TV and gaming gadget is available in the UK for £79 – they’re serious about challenging Netflix, Apple TV and Co aren’t they?

If you buy it, you’ll get a host of apps including Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Vevo and Sky News. Others will be added before the year is out.

As for gaming, the launch titles include Minecraft, The Walking Dead and the Android versions of Grand Theft Auto games. You might need a controller for certain titles, which will set you back an extra £34.99.

Amazon reckon that Fire has three times the power of an Apple TV and it has a number of nifty things. The remote, for example, has a microphone built-in, which means you can bark instructions at it to find your favourite shows or whatever.

Another thing it used is the Amazon WhisperSync function, which means that, if you’ve been watching something on your tablet, Fire will pick up where you left off if you’d rather watch it on the big screen. It works in the other direction too. One great idea is the Amazon ASAP function which pre-loads content for you if you have trouble with buffering.

You can pick one up at Amazon here if it sounds like the kind of thing you’d like.

Apple admit that iCloud has been compromised

October 23rd, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

apple icloud 300x260 Apple admit that iCloud has been compromisedApple have ‘fessed up about iCloud accounts being compromised by fake log-in pages. This follows an incident wherein Chinese users’ account names and passwords were requested by suspect looking web pages.

After all that celebrity nude action a couple of weeks ago, Apple came up with a two-password verification system to try and increase security.

Alas, reports of organised password phishing syndicates harvesting user information via fake iCloud pages emerged, and Apple had to come clean and say it’s a thing.

A statement released on Apple’s support page has confirmed that these phishers were stealing accounts and passwords, but that remained the dimensions of it. There was no further information as to when these happenings occurred or the severity of them.

Apple have helpfully told users to only use sites if there’s a padlock handy. On the site’s address bar, not around your neck.

They said: “We’re aware of intermittent organised network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously. These attacks don’t compromise iCloud servers, and they don’t impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser.”

“The iCloud website is protected with a digital certificate. Users should never enter their Apple ID or password into a website that presents a certificate warning.”

Last month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook admitted that Apple could do more to inform users how to make their iCloud accounts more secure, but was too pre-occupied with flogging new tat than being helpful.

Nokia now goes by the name of Lumia

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

nokia lumia logo 300x168 Nokia now goes by the name of LumiaAfter reporting that the Microsoft looked like they were offing Nokia, it’s now official.

Microsoft could keep hold of the name for another ten years, but obviously thought “no, that’s it, you’re dead to us!” and will now be known as the not-at-all catchy ‘Microsoft Lumia’.

The Nokia brand had been visible on recent smartphone launches such as the Lumia 930 and Lumia 735, but Microsoft has not mentioned it in any press on marketing junk.

The Windows Phone apps have also been re-branded to Lumia, and the firm hasn’t even been referring to Windows Phone in advertising, instead using just Windows instead.

The rebranding will roll out across various countries in due course, however it is unclear what branding Microsoft will decide to use on future smartphones and tablets.

Existing devices carry the Nokia logo on the front and back so it will probably be a little while for new devices all branded and sexed up to arrive.

Still. No more Nokia! The name of a mobile giant is chucked in the bin just like that. We’ll be playing ‘Snake’ all night and crying while seeing if it is possible to actually break a Nokia 3310 without the use of nuclear weapons.