Apple Watch has a release date at last

January 28th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Remember the Apple Watch? Oh you must do. It was mentioned in passing around that Apple launch where U2 made massive tools of themselves.

Well, news has come that it will start shipping in April.

apple watch 500x334 Apple Watch has a release date at last

Tim Cook confirmed that it would be in April, having previously said that ‘early 2015′ was the time frame. ‘Early 2015′ usually suggests January in our minds, but we’re not Apple.

The Apple CEO delivered details of the wearable’s release during a quarterly earnings call with investors and the press.

If you recall, the Apple Watch will come in men’s and women’s sizes with a choice of six different straps which is quite nifty and could actually catch on – or at least, that’s what Apple is hoping.

Cook had already gone on record to declare that users will use the device so much, that they’ll be charging it up daily. Which is obviously good news for the planet. There’s no actual price as yet, but early estimates of the original $349 (£230) mentioned back in the launch.

This follows the news that Apple posted the biggest profit ever, after selling 74.5 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter. Revenue went up to $74.6 billion from $57.6 billion a year earlier.

Tweetbot: victim of its own success

January 27th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Twitter Logo1 Tweetbot: victim of its own successTweetbot for Mac has been pulled from the Mac App Store. The third party app has hit a cap imposed by the social network on the number of users it can have.

Tweetbot originally started life on the Mac App Store back in October 2012, and has now the latest casualty of the Twitter rule of limiting new clients to 100,000 users.

The rule dates back to August 2012, when Twitter announced that any new app which was mainly used to access the users’ timeline would need explicit permission to have more than 100,000 users.

The post was widely seen as an attempt to kill off third-party Twitter clients, and eventually forced users onto the official Twitter app.

Mainly as Twitter cannot display adverts on third-party apps, and it has no control over which of its new features get rolled out when, you can imagine why they got a bit itchy about it.

While other apps have managed to escape such a fate – the rules were imposed in August 2012 – Tweetbot for Mac fell foul and is now ostracised. The ruthless world of social media!

TalkTalk 300x180 Talk Talk join blocking unsavoury stuff online setTalk Talk are the latest to block unsavoury adult material online.

They’ve said that customers who have not chosen to whether to activate net filters, must opt out of the safety system if they want to look at saucy content online.

The net provider will block access with pop-up boxes until decisions are made by the user, and will also prompt their customers to review their settings each year.

This follows Sky’s announcement last week that it would activate filters for inappropriate content by default.

However, BT and Virgin have yet to reveal any proposals for automatic filters, but seeing as David Cameron is bearing down on the whole ‘internet safety’ thing, it’s likely an announcement will occur soon.

TalkTalk customers are now presented with information about the HomeSafe filter activation in their account settings pages, and reckon 95% of its 4.2m customers have already decided whether to activate the filters.

According to Talk Talk’s spokeswoman Alex Birtles on the firm’s blog: “We pre-tick the ‘on’ option, but it’s the customer’s choice. Filters will only ever be applied if the customer has consented and they’re able to change their mind or edit their level of protection at any point.”

So if you’ve yet to visit the settings page, you’ll be confronted with a pop-up box if they try and look at some rude stuff. However, like most filters, HomeSafe does not block material accessed via a web proxy or Virtual Private Network (VPN).

According to the website blocked.org, a project by the Open Rights Group (ORG), around 11% of the 100,000 top websites (according to Amazon-owned analytics firm Alexa) are currently blocked by default filters.

Deathwatch: Are IBM going west?

January 26th, 2015 6 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ibm 300x300 Deathwatch: Are IBM going west?IBM are looking ropey at the minute as reports suggest they’re planning to get rid of 111,800 of their staff. That’s over a quarter (26%) of their current workforce.

This is all part of IBM’s reorganisation, which has been given the codenam of Project Chrome, and will see most of the company’s American staff being given the sack. To turn things around, IBM are pinning their hopes on cloud computing, rather than hardware for which they’ve been famous for.

Robert X Cringely wrote for Forbes: “To fix its business problems and speed up its ‘transformation’, next week about 26% of IBM’s employees will be getting phone calls from their managers. A few hours later a package will appear on their doorsteps with all the paperwork.”

This is big news, seeing as IBM has been running since 1911, taking the name International Business Machines in 1924.

Cringely continued: “This is a bit short-sighted and typical for IBM. They just announced the new Z13 mainframe and hope it will stimulate sales. Yet they will be cutting the very teams needed to help move customers from their old systems to the new Z13.”

“The storage cuts are likely to be short-sighted, too. Most cloud services use different storage technology than customers use in their data centres. This makes data replication and synchronization difficult. IBM’s cloud business needs to find a way to efficiently work well with storage systems found in customer data centres. Whacking the storage teams won’t help with this problem.”

The company are still making a load of money, so saying Deathwatch is rather premature, but losing a quarter of your entire workforce is a big deal indeed. One to keep an eye on.

Windows 10 is (nearly) here!

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Ian Wade

windows 10 300x199 Windows 10 is (nearly) here!Microsoft have announced details of Windows 10! And it looks like they may have got their act back together.

First up: THE START MENU IS BACK. Finally!

They’ve made it a proper cross platform affair, so that whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, the apps will run across all of them. Even holograms!

That’s right – with Microsoft Holographic, it’ll allow you to overlay digital images into the real world via a special headset, and should also be compatible with Google Glass (Good news, you 12 people!) and Occulus Rift

The key news with No.10 is that Windows Phone assistant Cortana will now be loaded into the desktop system. So now you can literally talk to your computer now as she’s built into your search. Nice to have a friend at last.

The other main attraction is Project Spartan, it’s a web browser that has a minimalist user interface but with various features, the key feature is killing off Explorer. You can now “freeze” web pages and annotate with either text or just doodling obscene images with your finger or a stylus and you’ll be able to save them to read offline and even set up a reading mode which help make various sites easier to read, a bit like Amazon’s Silk browser.

And finally, Xbox is going to be more integrated into Windows 10, with Xbox apps contained in each device. Appswise, they’ve made it where Office and Outlook and all that will work the same way on all your devices.

A new feature called Continuum will automatically switch an app into fullscreen tablet mode if it detects there’s no keyboard attached. Then, it’ll offer to return if you hook one up.

CEO Satya Nadella said of No.10 at the launch event: “Windows 10 is built for a world where everything is digitally mediated. It’s not just a checklist of features, it’s a design sensibility. We want people to love Windows on a daily basis.”

‘Love’.

But don’t start queuing up just yet, Windows 10 is still a few months off, but frankly when you have a holographic doodah, you’re gonna want to let people know about it.

Sky: deflecting porn with their shield

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

porn Sky: deflecting porn with their shieldSky have introduced the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter will help protect the nippers from any adult content, and will be rolled out to all their users on an opt-out type scene.

The company have already been emailing their customers about the modesty blanket, saying that they’re getting it whether they like it or not, regardless of whether children are on hand to be alarmed by the likes of gunfire, screaming and baps.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter blocks sites deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 13 during daytime hours, when they should be at school anyway, rather than seeking out wangs on xtube.

Lyssa McGowan, brand director of communications products at Sky, said about the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter: “We’re all aware that cyberspace can present security risks, and that the internet isn’t universally suitable for children. At Sky, when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously and we want what is best for our customers.”

“What we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’, unless customers choose otherwise.”

So, keep an ear out for people ringing Sky’s customers services and saying “Why yes… I’d like to watch dirty films with my internet connection…”

Wireless charging at Starbucks

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

starbucks logo 300x300 Wireless charging at StarbucksJust like McDonald’s, Starbucks are going to start offering wireless charging for customers, or people who are just sneaking in pretending to be customers, but really having a sly poo.

To start with, only 10 Starbucks in the UK will be offering wireless charging by the end of January, but you suspect they’ll roll it out further.

Now, there’s a few different types of wireless charging portals and Starbucks have decided to go with Powermat, which means you have to plug in an adapter to their phone. If there’s a plug socket available, you could just plug it into the mains and be done with it.

If not, you can buy one of the ring-shaped devices for £10. It only makes sense to do that if you spend a lot of time in a Starbucks, which a good number of folk do. The rest meanwhile, can be found muttering about taxes and inflating the cost of a Starbucks brew for comedic value while slagging them off.

If you have an adapter, you place your phone on one of the specially equipped tables and like magic, you’ll get some juice for your phone. We can already sense the in-store leaflets, tittering about how these things are like an espresso for your mobile.

Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing and category at Starbucks, said: “We have always tried to anticipate our customers’ needs and innovate with technology to provide even more convenience. Our partnership with Powermat demonstrates Starbucks response to an increasing need to stay connected whilst on the go.”

The first ten cafes will be at Princes Street, Kingsway, Wardour Street, Pentonville Road, Harewood Place, Berkeley Street, Great Portland Street, Moorgate, Fleet Street, and Euston Tower.

All in London then.

Passwords: still terrible

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

password 300x225 Passwords: still terribleRejoice, for the most popular (and worst) passwords of 2014 have been unveiled! And it’s a list that makes security experts weep, as the most popular are the most obvious.

As with 2013, variations on passwords like 123456 continue to be the most popular passwords. Other obvious choices such as “password” and “qwerty” are also in the top five.

There’s new entries for the likes of “baseball” (8), “dragon” (9), “football” (10) and, ahem, “Master” (19).

Superheroes such as Superman (21) and “batman” (24) proved popular, as did the winning “Michael” coming fresh in at No.20. We especially like that “trustno1″ is hanging on in there gamely, proving that irony is lost on the Cyberdog/conspiracy theorist set.

The list was compiled by password company SplashData, and combed from leaks from North America and Western Europe.

The ideal password that SplashData recommends, is one of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. They also “helpfully” suggest not using the same password on all of your sites.

The full list of the worst passwords (with last year’s ranking in brackets) is:

1 (1) 123456
2 (2) password
3 (20) 12345
4 (3) 12345678
5 (4) qwerty
6 (6) 1234567890
7 (16) 1234
8 (-) baseball
9 (-) dragon
10 (-) football
11 (7) 1234567
12 (17) monkey
13 (14) letmein
14 (5) abc123
15 (7) 111111
16 (-) mustang
17 (-) access
18 (18) shadow
19 (-) master
20 (-) michael
21 (-) superman
22 (-) 696969
23 (11) 123123
24 (-) batman
25 (24) trustno1

amazoninstant Amazon Prime to show movies before everyone elseAmazon have announced their intention to release approximately a dozen original new independent movies in 2015 from their own stable, and their release will come just weeks after the theatrical release.

That’s independent as in ‘away from the big studios’ and not ‘biopics on the Palma Violets and Huggy Bear’ by the way. The online bits-and-bobs mall said it will aim to air Amazon Original Movies between four to eight weeks after they appear in theatres in the US for Amazon Instant Prime subscribers.

Why, they’re even eyeing up making a follow-up to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon!

Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said: “We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. Our goal is to create close to 12 movies a year with production starting later this year. Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”

Ted Hope, new head of production for Amazon Original Movies, said: “Audiences already recognise that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging.”

“Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.”

Unlike arch rival Netflix, Amazon’s Prime video service comes bundled with the internet retailer’s two-day delivery for items purchased on the site, which costs £79 a year.

This comes after the firm last week not only won a Golden Globe for Transparent but also brought director Woody Allen on-board to create his first ever TV show, who joins the likes of Steven Soderbergh in creating exclusive content.

Facebook to turn your voice into text!

January 20th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook to turn your voice into text!Facebook are testing out a new function for their Messenger app, which will convert your voice into text. You can already send voice clips and videos through the service, but if you have a horrible face and a voice that sounds like all the fingernails in the world scraping down a terracotta pot, then this’ll be just the thing for you!

David Marcus, VP of Messaging products at Facebook, announced this in a Facebook page, saying: ”We’re always working on ways to make Messenger more useful. As many of you know, we already offer a feature that enables people to send voice clips to their friends without having to type out the text.”

“Today we are starting to roll out a small test that helps people read the voice clips they receive instead of having to play them out loud.”

“So, for example, if you’re at a concert or in a meeting, and would prefer to read a voice clip from a friend, you now can if you’re part of the small test we’re rolling out. Our plan is to test this feature at a tiny scale for now and we’re looking forward to seeing what you think of it before making the experience more widely available.”

They’ll have their work cut out for them though, as speech recognition programs rely on being able to translate from a host of accents. If you come from California, your version of English will be hugely different to someone who grew up in Glasgow. And that’s just looking at the English language.

Either way, Facebook are really working on Messenger and want it to be one of the main apps people use, so expect more developments (and people getting angry about personal privacy) in the coming months.

EE, Vodafone and Virgin sign-up for Net Neutrality

January 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers
Bitterwallet the internet 205x300 EE, Vodafone and Virgin sign up for Net Neutrality

A portrait of the free internet

EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone are supporting net neutrality by signing up to the Open Internet Code.

This UK code, launched in 2012 by the Broadband Stakeholder Group, commits the ISPs to offer full internet access with no data blocked ”on the basis of commercial rivalry.”

So, if you provide content or whatever, you can now complain to the BSG if it is thought that an ISP is discriminating against them. This means that all major ISPs in the UK who provide fixed and mobile networks are signed up to the code, which is great. Of course, there are issues with it, but at least there’s some willing.

BSG CEO Matthew Evans said: “Unlike some countries, where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency – which together offer the best assurance of an open internet.”

“The code now provides an even stronger and more effective foundation, whilst also allowing for an environment where new business models for internet-based services which benefit consumer choice can thrive.”

So there you have it. You can carry on watching beheading videos while you’re sat on the toilet, or whatever it is you weirdos get up to in an evening.

flooded cars 300x128 Oh no! Your cars insurance tracker could kill you! Honest!In tinfoil hat news, an expert has been shrieking about the devices that are given to drivers by insurance companies which track your driving habits and price your premiums. They could mean you car could get ‘hacked’, including your brakes and steering, which means bad people will make you drive into the sea or something.

Corey Thuen – a security expert – has investigated the SnapShot device which Progressive Insurance has issued to American drivers, and in the UK, similar devices have been handed out.

Thuen reverse engineered some software and found that he was able to access some functions of the car’s CAN bus (the CAN bus is a thing that allows some components and computers to communicate inside the car) and, when he got in there, he deduced that hackers could do the same and affect steering or braking… theoretically.

“The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure,” Thuen said. ”It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies… basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”

“I suspected that these dongles were built insecurely, and I was correct. The technology being used in them is outdated and vulnerable to attack which is highly troubling considering it is being used to remotely access insecure by design vehicle computers. A skilled attacker could almost certainly compromise such dongles to gain remote control of a vehicle, or even an entire fleet of vehicles. Once compromised, the consequences range from privacy data loss to life and limb.”

Imagine! Hackers taking over an entire fleet of vehicles, making them crash into things like banks and children! Of course, if you were sat in your car, you’d just turn the engine off and whack the handbrake on and you’d be fine… but still… DANGER! DANGER!

The reality of the situation is that hackers could get into the system and inconvenience you by messing around with your self-parking features, or maybe pre-collision systems. We don’t have cars that drive themselves yet, so you suspect that, when we do, the security on those will be beefed up to buggery.

Of course, things like Snapshot really only track how fast you’re going, how far you drive and what times of day you use your car, so don’t worry Bitterwallet motorists, you’re safe for now.

zzzw EE customers to share £1m refund after VAT kerfuffleSeveral EE customers are due a windfall refund of around £1 million. Not each, mind.

The EE customers were those who went outside of the EU and used internet data between October 2012 and October 2014 are affected – about 0.5% of EE’s total customers.

EE told the BBC that the cash was never EE’s and that the overcharges went straight to Revenue & Customs. Customers affected can expected refunds from about £2 to £80 per customer.

Spokesman David Nieberg said: “Due to a configuration error in our billing system, made following a system change, a small number of customers were wrongly charged VAT on the Data Roaming bundle outside of Europe.”

“This was a mistake, and we are now refunding these charges and contacting affected customers to apologise for the error.”

He added: “We’ve claimed that money back from HMRC, and then it goes back to the customers.”

Customers affected by the error are being contacted via text message and told the amount they are owed, and any former customers who believe they may be eligible have been told to contact customer services.

Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020

January 19th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

5G 300x251 Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020Ofcom are looking into the feasibility of 5G becoming very much a thing.

The regulator is seeing how the technology will work and how it will be delivered, just as people are starting to get themselves used to 4G.

It would mean such giddy developments as holographic projection, which would be a boon* (*fad) for gaming and trading and entertainment solutions. 5G would see such speeds up to 50 Gbit/s, according to Ofcom, which is more than 3,000 times quicker than the average 4G download speed in the UK.

Steve Unger, Ofcom acting chief executive said: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”

Ofcom wants to set up the UK’s infrastructure to be able to carry 5G by seeking which sections of the airwaves would be able to be used. They’ve identified the spectrum above 6 GHz as potentially useful as it is not popular with mainstream television and mobile services given difficulties in carrying conventional communications.

Ideally, Ofcom say they’d like to have it out by 2020, which is not worth holding your breath for really. Either way, just imagine how fast you’ll be able to download dirty pictures to your phone while you’re on the bog at work!

Twitter Logo1 Twitter hits the road, offering you big fat lineTwitter is going on a worldwide tour!

The social network braindump is travelling the globe in a bid to encourage developers to build apps using Twitter data. This follows last year’s announcement that Twitter were launching a mobile devlopment platform called Fabric, which is supposed to make it easy for developers to create their own apps.

Fabric features a suite of tools that enable developers to monitor the stability of their apps, embed streams of tweets, verify users’ identities using phone number sign-in, and monetise their apps via the MoPub platform. Money! Everyone likes money.

Twitter will be roaming Earth offering all of these tools to developers for free, and making it extremely simple for developers to embed them into their apps.

Already, the likes of Spotify, McDonalds and the Wall Street Journal have come aboard using elements of Fabric to improve their performance and engagement.

There’ll be a series of half-day events in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangalore and Sao Paolo. The London event will be on February 19th.

Twitter’s director of mobile platform Jeff Siebert said: “The mobile market is very much dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android. Where we’re different is we want to look across both of them, and we’re hoping to provide the tools that solve developer challenges no matter what platform they’re developing for.”

The company has also announced its first worldwide startup contest, called Hatch, which gives winners the opportunity to meet with potential investors and win cash to fund their projects.

“Our goal is to make developing apps as an individual as easy and powerful as if you have a large development team at a big enterprise,” said Siebert. ”While we obviously care about the big brands, our passion is enabling these small independent developers to build equally incredible experiences with just a few lines of code.”

Everybody can have incredible experiences with a few lines of… oh sorry, they said CODE.