Facebook are launching a virtual assistant, that basically is a rip-off of Siri. It’ll also have support from real humans in a call centre somewhere, but basically, it is another thing you can talk to and it will respond accordingly.
This thing will be called Facebook M, and will work within Facebook’s Messenger app. This being FB, you can assume that these things are a wonderful tool for gathering all manner of data on people, which can then be sold for huge sums of money.
Anyway, what does David Marcus from Facebook have to say about it all? He said: “M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.”
“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”
There’s no date given for a rollout and indeed, it is still being tested.
In Wired, there is more information: “Facebook’s M trainers have customer service backgrounds. They make the trickier judgement calls, and perform other tasks that software can’t. If you ask M to plan a birthday dinner for your friend, the software might book the Uber and the restaurant, but a person might surprise your friend at the end of the night by sending over birthday cupcakes from her favourite bakery.”
So there you go. Fancy letting Facebook be your party planner? That’s if your phone has enough memory on it to cope with yet another pissing update from this shower.
Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri rip-off, already has 75 million devices using it, according to the company. This will be something to do with loads of people installing Windows 10, no doubt.
And with that, Microsoft would like to tell us some interesting facts about it all. You are not legally obliged to find these facts interesting, for the record. You are obliged to slag stuff off in the comments though.
Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Windows and Devices, went on Twitter to tell everyone about these titbits, one of them being about Cortana pulling out some wisecracks. Apparently, it has shared over half a million jokes in response to “tell me a joke” query which people keep asking it.
What kind of person asks artificial intelligence for a joke? Arseholes like Clean Bandit, that’s who. You’ll remember them getting friendly with a robot female voice on that godforsaken advert.
Millions have also downloaded Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which is the new version of the old Solitaire time wasting exercise. Also popular with millions, is Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta.
So there you have it. Cortana – telling loads of jokes. Are they funny? Ask it yourself. We’re terrified of it.
So, with that, the idea that there might be crash-proof computers in the not-too-distant future is good isn’t it?
That’s what the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are looking into, and they’ve developed a file system which is part of the computer’s operating system that writes data to disk and remembers where it is stored, so it’s “mathematically guaranteed” not to lose your stuff.
Nickolai Zeldovich, part of the team that carried out the research, said: “What many people worry about is building these file systems to be reliable, both when they’re operating normally but also in the case of crashes, power failure, software bugs, hardware errors, what have you.”
“Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, ‘Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?’”
“And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them, even in very well tested file systems, because it’s just so hard to do.”
We’ll find out more about all this later in the year when the team give out their results. So for the old-fashioned romantics among you, your computer will still frustrate you by crashing out on you from time-to-time, but at least you won’t lose that spreadsheet you spent an hour doing without saving it.
Well, Google have noticed this and are getting in on the action. Of course, they’re not going to fix the potholes themselves, but rather, try and win you over by warning you about them and where they are.
The internet behemoth is already a part of your travel, with Google Maps having all manner of features and Google giving you loads of alerts for things. You can already see if there’s a shedload of traffic en route, and get directions to where you’re going.
Now, they’re aiming to make your ride a bit smoother by telling you about imminent potholes that you’re heading toward.
Google has filed a patent which would allow them to gauge if there are potholes on your journey, using your car’s GPS navigation system and other sensors.
One of the things Google might do, is to monitor the vibrations that rattle through your car, in a bid to track and collate where all the potholes in the world are. They’d cross reference that with GPS data, and hey presto! You’ve got a living map of dodgy roads. With Maps, they’d presumably then suggest alternative routes to save your suspension from getting hammered.
Naturally, Google is making a fleet of autonomous cars that might really want to know about all this.
Thanks to a major design flaw, the S Pen that comes with the Note 5 could do major damage to the functionality.
So what’s happening here? Well, you can insert the S Pen into the Galaxy Note 5 any way you like, because Samsung have designed it that way. However, pop it in with the wrong orientation, and you could break the device’s stylus detection feature, which means it won’t work.
Most devices that have a stylus are designed in such a way that it can only be inserted the correct way, presumably to stop nonsense like this from happening. Not with the Galaxy Note 5, nosireebob. A very simple fix could lead to a very expensive apology from Samsung.
The Verge says: “If you are unfortunate enough to slide your S Pen in the wrong way, you’ll have a hard time unjamming it from the slot (though eventually you should be able to pry it away), but more importantly, you might disable the Note’s stylus detection feature.”
So what do Samsung have to say about all this? Are they going to fix the problem or issue some adapters to stop this from borking a load of devices? Course not.
In a reply to The Verge, Samsung said: “We highly recommend our Galaxy Note 5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S pen in the other way around.”
There you have it. You’re slipping it in wrong.
You may recall that BT made a deal with the British government, in a bid to get broadband rolled out across the country. Well, it isn’t happening quickly enough, and millions still don’t have a proper internet connection.
In addition to that, Openreach has doled out slower speeds that originally advertised. It is all a bit rubbish, frankly.
The target that was set originally was to have 95% of the UK covered by 2015, however, that date is now being pushed back to 2017, and even with the revised date, BT reckon that it’ll be more like 2018 by the time they reach 95% coverage. And it’ll be longer still before they reach every citizen in Britain.
Another thing that might cause delays is an Ofcom investigation into a monopoly on government contracts. The government gave 44 out of 44 contracts to BT, even though there’s the option of TalkTalk, Virgin Media, and Sky. And now, David Cameron is showing signs of frustration, unhappy at the speed of the rollout.
BT have missed tagrets of speeds of at least 5 Mbps or 24 Mbps, and reports show that new Openreach customers are getting under 2 Mbps on a typical day. Given that countries like Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Romania, Lithuania, and Hungary have all been getting faster average speeds, with a lower cost of implementing the services, to say this whole thing is unsatisfactory is something of an understatement.
Given that the UK is the fifth largest economy, it really shouldn’t be this slow when it comes to rolling out such things. BT – pull your finger out.
Hate people taking photos of their tea? Assume they’re either showing off how often they can afford to eat in restaurants or that they’re crowing about what amazing cooks they are? Well, you’re going to love this news from Google.
The tech behemoth has unveiled a new food photo tool, which they’ve built-in to the Google Maps app on Android. Basically, you can now attach images of your dinner to places within Maps. This is to improve people’s reviews or something.
So what do you do? Well, you take a photo of what you’re eating and then, Maps figures out where you are from your GPS, gives you a notification saying that they’ve detected a shot has been taken in the establishment where you’re sat and then, with a tap, you can post your visual review onto Maps.
It looks like the Tablescape app which Google were mucking around with, but shelved, has had its technology repositioned to this Maps add-on.
There you have it. Amateur foodies are given yet another outlet to blort on about things being under-seasoned, or saying the word soupçon about some crappy meal or whatever.
Just what we all needed.
Microsoft are thinking of the future, and have patented technology that could see people being notified of messages and the like, through smartclothes that send shocks through your skin. You can expect it to be more of a tingle, rather than something akin to death row.
The patent notes that, in modern society, everyone hates people’s phones making noises, so with this, your body will vibrate to let you know that Domino’s are doing yet another bloody offer and they won’t ever leave you alone.
The patent’s abstract says: “Techniques are described herein that are capable of providing electrical stimuli to skin of a user to convey information to the user. For instance, the electrical stimuli may inform the user of an event, a condition, etc.”
Mircosoft are looking at a shoe and a t-shirt as examples of clothing that could stimulate you when you get a message. We suspect someone will fashion something for the gusset with this technology.
While our minds are in the gutter, Microsoft suggest that, not only will these clothes give you notifications for messages, but also, that the tech could be used to tell someone when their clothes are about to ‘wear out’ or that you could link it up with street navigation apps.
Microsoft wrote in the patent paperwork: “People are increasingly exposed to information these days. A snapshot of our modern society is likely to reveal many people using mobile devices while performing their daily routine tasks. For instance people often text, conduct telephone calls, check messages, search the internet, etc. Using mobile devices in such a manner may raise any of a variety of concerns, namely safety and/or etiquette.”
“In an effort to address such concerns, companies are developing devices that are capable of delivering content to users in an unobtrusive and/or hands-free manner.”
What do you think of your router? Don’t care as it is almost entirely functional and you hid it behind something else so the blinking lights don’t catch your eye every 2 seconds?
Well, Google want to give the humble router a bit of design and class, and they’re going to release the OnHub wifi router to do exactly that. Oh, and it’ll have some other stuff going on.
Have a look it.
Aside from looking like a pint of stout, the new OnHub will have an app-driven user interface and there’ll be no flashing lights either. Instead, it’ll have a glowing ring, just like your mum.
There’s also talk of auto-updating firmware too, if you’re into that sort of thing.
For those who like some spec, this’ll have 13 antennas firing out 1900Mbps of internet over AC 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. It’ll have support for Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave and the like. The app will allow Android users to troubleshoot stuff on their phone, rather than blowing into ports and swearing with the router in their hand.
So there you have it. Knowing Google, this will have a secret CCTV camera in it so they can watch you sleep.
So, Android fans – the next big update you’ll be doing on your phones and devices, is called Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Sadly, the image on the right is not the official logo for the Google’s new mobile OS, but it should be.
Dave Burke, Android’s VP of Engineering, showed off the new service on Twitter last night. In addition to that, Google even put a statue outside their Mountain View HQ of the green robot holding a massive marshmallow (which you can see here).
“Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten centre, or in fluff form, who doesn’t like marshmallows? We definitely like them,” wrote Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android in the blog post. “Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we’ve enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we’re introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow.”
Bitterwallet isn’t keen on marshmallows, but that’s beside the point we’re guessing. One thing we do like is the needlessly flashy boot screen that comes with the update, which you can see on this video.
Whether it’ll be still considered fun when our phones get stuck in a reboot, is another matter entirely.
So how is this going to be different from Lollipop?
Well, apart from the fancy loading screen, it isn’t promising too much in the way of new features. Mainly, Marshmallow will want to make everything more stable and perform better.
There is some new stuff though – mainly, there’s going to be a load of contactless payment things, such as Android Pay, Tap on Now, as well as other things which aren’t very exciting at all. It’ll be available in an update later this year, but there’s no concrete date as yet. Start thinking about which apps you’ll want to delete, as the new OS will invariably want more of your memory, which is already groaning under the weight of bloatware you get with a lot of Android phones.
Microsoft are under fire over something in Windows 10, that looks like it would allow them to look around your computer looking for illegally downloaded software and media, where they have the opportunity to delete it.
This is troubling news, if not unsurprising.
Here’s the skinny: a paragraph in Microsoft’s terms and conditions has been found which appears to give the software company the ability to stop people from using things that weren’t legally sourced. There’s already privacy concerns with Microsoft’s newest OS, and this is something that is equally troubling.
The t&cs says: ”We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.”
Of course, that paragraph is on the vague side, but it doesn’t look good from the off and Microsoft could do with providing some clarity on this, or else feel the wrath of a load of very angry IT-types.
Naturally, the gaming and entertainment industries will welcome this move, as piracy has becoming a massive issue for them in recent years. That means Microsoft will have to walk the tightrope of pleasing companies and pleasing those that they want as customers.
They’ll win no friends if people start having their virtual sanctum messed around with.
You know how Windows 10 has seen some people stuck in rebooting hell? Well, Microsoft have seemingly issued a fix.
Microsoft put out some patches under the umbrella of KB 3081436 update to fix the problem. They said initially: “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10. Windows 10 updates are cumulative. Therefore, this package contains all previously released fixes. If you have installed previous updates, only the new fixes that are contained in this package will be downloaded and installed to your computer.”
You won’t have to do anything because this update applied itself automatically, like magic. That’s what Windows 10 does. So if you’ve been avoiding your PC thanks to this problem, switch it on and it should work just fine. If not, shout at Microsoft, not us.
Naturally, some Windows 10 users are still stuck in the loop of reboots.
What if that doesn’t work?
Don’t worry though! If it doesn’t work for you, Microsoft say that all you have to do, is open your Control Panel, click on ‘View installed updates’, and select ‘KB3081436′. Click uninstall in the toolbar and restart your computer, and you should be away.
So what’s happening? Well, there’s some rebooting nightmare going on, which sees users trapped in constant reboots thanks to a dodgy update.
On the Microsoft forum, one user said: “It downloads, reboot to install. Gets to 30% and reboots. Gets to 59% and reboots. Gets to 59% again and then states something went wrong so uninstalling the update. Wait a few minutes and reboot. Back to login screen.”
Sadly, these are mandatory updates from Windows 10, which means you can’t decline the installation, which is making this a massive headache for a number of people.
The KB3081424 update, which is the problem, is failing to install properly, which means that Windows 10 immediately tries to do the whole thing again, making your computer unusable.
As yet, Microsoft haven’t offered a fix for this and is only fixable if you’re clever enough to get under the hood and manually edit a bit of the operating system. If you try it and cock it up, then you’re guaranteed to have a whole host of other issues, so we won’t be offering a How To on that fix here.
For most users, the update has been fine. For those that are having problems with it, we await Microsoft’s response.
Google have set up a new parent company called Alphabet. Why? Well, you’d have to assume it is a way of diddling tax or something, but they’ve got other ideas. Warning: this article contains the phrase ‘womb of wonder’.
Basically, this is a reshuffle where some people might move offices. Now, all those things that Google did will be under the Alphabet umbrella. The search engine will still be called Google, it is just that the company that own it have a different name.
The terrifying 23andme (the company that wants your DNA) and the Nest project (the thing that wants to stick cameras in your house), as well as YouTube, self-driving cars, Glass and all the rest, will now be Alphabet companies. It is a surprise move, and control of the search engine business has been handed over to Sundar Pichai.
The one nerdily cool thing is the new address, which is abc.xyz.
On the new site, Larry Page wrote: “As Sergey [Brin, co-founder] and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, ‘Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one’. As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make ‘smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses’. From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.”
“We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time. Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, and Android. And we haven’t stopped there. We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about.”
“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant. Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.”
Alphabet, while making this announcement, even managed to crack a funny - embedding a link in their opening blog post to the company website for Hooli, which is the fictional version of Google from the Mike Judge’s brilliant comedy Silicon Valley. For those that haven’t seen it, Silicon Valley is a satire of the tech industry. Even Hooli has the URL of hooli.xyz and check their website out, to see how accurate it is, as a pisstake. “XYZenises” and “the womb of wonder” indeed.
Anyway, a massive company has done a reshuffle and we expect that, with a less cuddly name than Google, Alphabet Inc. will be able to start going full-on science fiction nightmare.
There’s a product recall on a Panasonic battery and, yes, it is a battery that could set on fire, not unlike the EE Power Bar which has been causing all manner of problems lately.
Here’s a photo of the battery in question, which is the Panasonic ‘NKY442B2′ (48V / 412Wh), which comes complete with e-bikes.
Only a limited number of Panasonic NKY442B2 batteries are affected, and they’re very easy to spot. The problem batteries are easily identified as they have a serial number starting with RA16 and RA17. The serial number is affixed to the underside of the battery.
These batteries, with the serial number RA16 and RA17, must be exchanged immediately.
“If an affected battery (RA16 or RA17) is identified by an end customer, it must be removed from the bike immediately. This battery must not be used or recharged until it is exchanged. If you have any personal questions regarding this product recall process, please contact us by phone using the hotline: +49 30 920 360 110″
If you have such a battery, then click here and fill the form in.