Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Amazon comes up with WorkMail

January 29th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon comes up with WorkMailAmazon are in the process of launching a new corporate email service. The online Mothra will offer the email and calendar service for office types, in a bid to rub up against Google and Microsoft.

They’re calling it Amazon WorkMail, and is said to be tougher than the rest, as regards data storage and security.

Ever since that Edward Snowden blabbed about the US government, started handing out National Security Agency documents like free samples and said how leaky they were, that’s been enough to get everyone a bit paranoid.

The general distrust about Google and Microsoft being too big, has let Amazon see a hole that it can fill in the market, according to TJ Keitt, an analyst at Forrester: “Lots of questions have been raised about US companies’ relations to the NSA and the federal government and their stance towards subpoenas, and Amazon hasn’t been as battered by the documents that came from Mr Snowden as Microsoft and Google have been,”

This is yet one more step on for Amazon, who will be replacing our eyes come 2018, you mark our words.

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.

Google Translate kills homophobic slurs

January 27th, 2015 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Google has said sorry after their translation app included some slurs against gay people. All Out noticed it and launched a campaign to get the offensive words removed, which Google have duly done.

In a statement to All Out, Google said: “As soon as we were informed…we immediately worked to fix the issue. We apologize for any offense this has caused people.”

As you can see from the screengrab, there were some unsavoury alternatives offered before Google fixed everything up.

translations 500x293 Google Translate kills homophobic slurs

All Out said: “We won! Thanks to our mobilization, Google implemented a fix on Friday to take out anti-gay slurs from its translation tool.” Apparently, the worst translation suggestions happened when coverting English into Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Previously Google has a good record on equality and has pulled games from its Google Play Store because they are homophobic.

All Out added: “This isn’t just about political correctness gone mad. Degrading language feeds negative attitudes and stereotypes. And anti-gay slurs can lead to bullying and attacks on lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.”

This, presumably, will lead a load of people to say that it is ‘PC gone mad’ regardless. Either way, good on Google for getting this sorted.

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.

Argos dole out budget tablet and mobile

January 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

argos logo 300x230 Argos dole out budget tablet and mobileRemember Bush? No, not the fella who ran America even though, remarkably, he had less braincells than Reagan – the people who used to make tape-eating stereos? Well, they owned wholly by Argos these days and together, they’ve developed , two devices which they say are ‘budget-beating’.

Argos will sell them for just £49.99 and £79.99 and both devices will run on Android, obviously.

The cheaper model is a mobile that has a 4-inch display, 4GB of internal storage and a 5-megapixel camera. It’ll have interchangeable covers too. The more expensive device has a slightly larger 5-inch display and 8GB of internal storage.

Argos mobile phone buyer, Nick Clarke, said “The new Bush smartphone is the answer for technology beginners or digital veterans on a budget. Affordable and easy to use, people can use these phones for both their work and personal life as it holds two SIM cards, making it one of the most flexible smartphones on the market.”

There’ll also be a 4G enabled Alcatel OneTouch Pop 2 device too, selling for £99.95 and SIM-free, which also has a ‘power bank’ back-up for when your battery is running low.

In addition to all that, Bush will be selling tablets as well as mobiles, with one of them having an 8 inch screen and a slightly bigger version with a 10-inch screen. The MyTablets will also run on Android.

Things are heating up in the budget technology stakes!

Watch you don’t get hacked by WhatsApp Plus

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp Watch you dont get hacked by WhatsApp PlusHave you been using an app called WhatsApp Plus? Well, stop that at once! You see, WhatsApp have banned some users from using the app for 24 hours because it is a third party application and it violates the ‘terms of service’.

WhatsApp have asked their users to uninstall WhatsApp+ and install the authorised version of WhatsApp from official website or Google Play if they want to resume normal service. This other app isn’t related to WhatsApp, which means it has code that isn’t supported by the company and, worse still, if you get hacked and your details and photos leak, they won’t be taking any responsibility for it.

So if you’ve been sending photos of your junk to people through this third party app, you’re asking for trouble.

WhatsApp are treating the Plus app as malware and, in their FAQ section, they’ve said: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorised by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.”

In short – stop using it, alright? Good.

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.

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.

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.

Arrests made after Xbox and PS4 hack

January 16th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

xbox one square Arrests made after Xbox and PS4 hackRemember when some nerds hacked the PS4 and Xbox systems on Christmas Day, spoiling everyone’s fun and forcing them to talk to their racist relatives? Well, all offhand, glib comments made by the hackers are being put to the test as a teenager has been arrested in Merseyside.

The FBI and British officials went after the teenager from Southport and he was nicked on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material. It gets worse for the kid – they have also been detained because of threats to kill according to the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman said that this was a “significant” arrest, adding: ”This arrest demonstrates that we will pursue those who commit crime with the false perception they are protected within their own homes or hiding behind anonymous online personas.”

“As we continue to build capability and develop skills across wider policing, we still need industry, communities and individuals to protect themselves by implementing basic security measures whilst taking full advantage and enjoyment of the opportunities the world wide web provides.”

Get that. They’re going after your anonymous online personas!

Craig Jones, head of the Cyber Crime Unit at SEROCU, said: “We are still at the early stages of the investigation and there is still much work to be done. We will continue to work closely with the FBI to identify those who commit offences and hold them to account.”

“We are pursuing cyber criminals using the latest technology and working with businesses and academia to further develop specialist investigative capabilities to protect and reduce the risk to the public. Cyber crime is an issue which has no boundaries and affects people on a local, regional and global level.”

Deathwatch: Google Glass

January 16th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

google glass Deathwatch: Google GlassGoogle Glass is no more. Or at least the first phase of it anyway.

Which will be great news for the beleagured supermarket chain that’s just released an app with them, eh?

Google have admitted that the whole Glass thing isn’t really happening, and has decided to halt sales of its specs. They’ve said that they are committed to unveiling some form of eyewear at some point, but the current model is to be no more.

The uptake has been slow to say to least, as people decided they didn’t want to look a bit Borg-y, but after an initial roll out in 2013 and in the UK in 2014, the mass rollout didn’t happen. So Google have stopped taking orders as of January 19th.

Google Glass was also one of the big wearable tech launches, and so it will be interesting to see how all the rest fare in the coming months.

Google said it would still offer support to companies that already use Glass, which is kind of them. Maybe for the next push, they might consider making them less expensive?

Tesco launch app for Google Glass

January 15th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Google Glass 4 Tesco launch app for Google GlassYou’d think they’d have other issues more pressing to deal with, but Tesco have launched a shopping app for Google Glass.

It is hoped that it make it a faster method for shoppers to add items to their online baskets.

Tesco Groceries is a free download for the £1,000 smartglasses, which went on sale in the UK in June 2014. That’s either demented thinking from the mad, or some proper well-thought out futurism.

You can operate the app by speaking commands, like “Glass, find me a Snickers” or via the scanning of barcodes that are in the sight of the shopper. Or, you could stand in a shop and find it yourself, put it in a basket and be stood outside eating it before Google Glass does anything useful.

Shoppers will also be able to look at how much fat or salt something has. Dullards.

The chain had prototyped it back in June 2014, probably imagining that Google Glass would become quite the thing. “We thought about how our colleagues might be able to use Glass to check stock hands-free, or how our customers might be able to add a product to their grocery delivery basket while making a cup of tea,” blogged Tesco’s Pablo Coberly at the time.

“Getting to that stage has been a journey into entirely new areas of user interaction: new gestures, user interface elements, and input mechanisms.”

google glass tesco 500x222 Tesco launch app for Google Glass

Coberly has bugled about Google’s genius again in an updated post too: “The Glass Development Kit (GDK) documentation is good and getting better. The community is helpful and proactive about sharing knowledge, especially on stackoverflow. The Glass team at Google does all they can to try to make sure the glassware delivers the best experience possible.”

“This is a challenge given how Glass is still being developed, so it can be somewhat of a moving target. The Glass software platform went through 6 updates in the time we worked with it, which shows how much Google is still investing in the platform. Given the steady flow of software updates, and the various articles that have been published alluding to updated Glass hardware, I can’t help but feel this is still the beginning of the journey for Glass and for Tesco.”

Admittedly Coberly is not expecting it to happen overnight, allowing five to 10 years for our new eyewear overlords to enslave us all.

Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!

January 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

david cameron government Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!Predictably and tediously, after the murders in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo HQ, David Cameron has announced that he’d like to spy on everyone, in a bid to make us all safer.

So what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? Cameron doesn’t like the fact that certain messaging apps are encrypted, which means your messages are private and the PM wants to be able to see inside them, y’know, just in case you’re a terrorist. So if you use Snapchat or WhatsApp, they could end up being blocked, nationwide.

Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime also have encrypted data, which is no good for a man who wants to increase surveillance and revive the Snoopers Charter, which helps the government to peer into your internet goings-on.

Cameron said: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” The answer for most sensible people is ‘Yes, actually.’ Of course, there’s going to be some people saying ‘I don’t care – I’m not doing anything wrong so why should I be bothered that someone’s looking at my boring messages?’ To those, we admire your belief that government officials won’t end up losing all your private messages and them ending up online or, indeed, misreading some joke you made which sees you getting called in for questioning.

The short version is this: Are you happy with a Prime Minister who says that there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read”?

Of course, companies like WhatsApp are committed to keeping their services encrypted and unreadable by authorities, which is something that has become a real point of principle in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s claims about NSA surveillance.

Privacy groups are, as expected, angry at the idea of governments being able to snoop around your private correspondence, so this is a row that’s only going to get louder in the coming weeks. There’s an election afoot, so we’ll have to see how Cameron plays it.

Now you can build Lego with your EYES

January 8th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

The Consumer Electronics Show is the gift that keeps on giving this week, as thousands of nerds descend on all the latest gadgets at a huge conference that inevitably smells like Lynx Africa and cider.

Now comes word of a new learning tool that will allow users to build LEGO with the eyes. THEIR EYES.

Eye-tracking software developer The Eye Tribe showed off an interface that allows users to build LEGO sets using just their eyes at the show.

And it’s not just fancy-dan futurism either, as the software has been used to control mobile devices, computers, gaming consoles and TVs. Now, they’re working with LEGO to provide a new way to build LEGO

“We’re extremely excited to be back at CES and to show how quickly we’ve advanced our products for mobile form factors,” said Sune Alstrup Johansen, CEO of The Eye Tribe. ”With our solution, OEMs can fast-track integration of real eye tracking. We want to bust the myth that it is an expensive and complicated affair.”

Martin Tall, chief technology officer of The Eye Tribe, added: “Our vision is to transition eye tracking from being an expensive lab equipment into every day products. Soon this technology will be integrated into a wide range of devices such as tablets and smartphones.

“It will enable you to interact with devices in ways that you only dreamed were possible. Devices will behave more intuitively, games will become more immersive.”

Yeah, impressive, but not as much fun as annoying other people as you rattle through a tub for particular pieces though, eh.