Posts Tagged ‘tech’
We told you before about contactless payments going up to £30 before, and understandably, many of you probably thought it was too good to be true. You couldn’t imagine a world where such a beautiful thing could exist.
Well, it has finally happened! The single payment limit for a contactless card transaction has been bumped up to £30 from £20! This is our moon landing. This is everything we’d ever wanted. Human endeavour has peaked. We might as well give up on all projects now, as this won’t be topped.
This increase also affects smartphone payments like Apple Pay, and the rest, which lets you buy stuff by wafting stuff at a machine without entering a PIN number. PIN numbers eh? They’re like the dark ages.
Of course, with such a glorious development, some places won’t be able to offer the new limit because they haven’t updated their software. Go easy on them. Such huge life-changing events can take time to form in people’s minds.
The UK Cards Association said there’s 58 million contactless cards in the country, and last year, over £2.5bn was spent using them. The places that are accepting these payments are growing too. It is like living in a science fiction film. Corner shops will sell lazer guns next, and Boots will probably have suicide booths or something.
Richard Koch, who has a name that has been tittered at since he was born, is the head of policy at the UK Cards Association, and he said: “Contactless payments are fast, easy and secure and use the same robust encryption technology as chip and PIN. Consumers are increasingly choosing contactless as a way to pay and the new £30 limit will give shoppers and retailers even more opportunities.”
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.
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.
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.”
The web version of WhatsApp has been kicking around for months now, but not for iPhone users. Until now. That’s right – you can now talk to people through the service on Safari on the Mac, which is not very thrilling, but it is useful.
So, if you don’t know what you’re doing, here’s a brief how-to.
Go to the WhatsApp web version, and you’ll see a QR code. Open the WhatsApp mobile app, scan the QR code and you’re away. That’s it. Dead easy.
If you’ve tried this and it hasn’t worked, don’t worry – the service hasn’t been rolled out to everyone yet, and apparently, it is being done in phases, so be patient and your time will come. If you are ready to go, then good for you. You’ll be able to conduct your inane conversations through your browser.
So, now WhatsApp for Web is available for pretty much everyone. If you’re on Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, iPhone, you can get stuck in.
The browser version has been updated too, and you can edit your profile photo and status, and you can delete and archive chats, as well as mute and exit group chats. Like we said, it isn’t that exciting, but it is rather handy. So there you go. Head over there now and have a skive at work or whatever.
Hackers have got all up in the face of Mumsnet, with armed police being dispatched to the house of the founder of the site. While that is frankly bizarre, what does it mean for the most of you who use the site? Well, a DDoS attack took the site offline, and all users should change their passwords asap.
Founder, Justine Roberts, said Mumsnet was the victim of a cyber attack from someone called ‘DadSecurity’ on Twitter. User information on the site has been accessed, and here’s all you need to know.
Reset your password and, if you use the same password for other sites, it’d be wise to update those too. Hackers have edited some posts from user accounts, so this is a pressing concern. Stolen passwords have been posted online.
Mumsnet have reset all passwords, so you’ll have to do this anyway, but if you’ve missed all this news, it’d be worth getting your finger out.
Mumsnet have said: “We take great care to protect the information users give us, and don’t ask for, or store, any more information than we need to run the site. All passwords are encrypted, so that no one – not even us – can see them. We think, therefore, that this has been done via a form of phishing, whereby the hacker creates a fake Mumsnet login page that looks just like the usual page, but with a slightly different URL. The hacker would have been able to see passwords in plain text when they were typed in.”
“Any passwords the hacker has been able to harvest up to this point will now be useless. However, if phishing was the cause, the Mumsnet login page could be phished again – so it’s really important to check the URL when you enter your details, or use your social login (ie via Facebook/Google), which doesn’t require a password.”
“If the URL begins with anything other than https://www.mumsnet.com/session/login, don’t use it. Note the ‘S’ in ‘https://’.”
Roughly 3,000 usernames and passwords have been posted online, but that figure could shoot up at any time. Mumsnet don’t know how much information has been obtained and the hackers could be posting them in batches.
Mumsnet has a live update going on here.
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.
People can get very jumpy about how private their browsing habits are, and most browsers are walking the tightrope of pleasing their board who want all the money that comes from tracking you, and not completely angering users.
With Apple and Google jostling for the top spot, former favourite Firefox, from Mozilla, is looking at ways of getting people back on their team, by making private browsing truly private.
Mozilla are testing out enhancements to private browsing in Firefox, designed to block website elements that could be employed by third parties to track your behaviour across sites. While most browsers have an option called ‘Do Not Track’ or similar, they don’t really mean it and you end up getting tracked all the same.
This tool will block things like analytics firms and ad networks, and stop them from keeping tabs on your cookies and the like. It is available from the Firefox Developer Edition on Windows, Mac and Linux, and Firefox Aurora on Android, Mozilla and you can find out more about it here.
It is not even reached Beta mode yet, so don’t expect too much.
“We’ve worked with developers and created a process that attempts to verify that add-ons installed in Firefox meet the guidelines and criteria we’ve developed to ensure they’re safer for you,” Mozilla said.
We have been blorting on about the rejigged Spectrum – called the ZX Spectrum Vega – for a while now.
Well, it is out next week on Monday 24th August, if you’re in the mood to buy one.
Naturally, there’s loads of emulators you can use online, but this is for the die-hard and dedicated. The console has been developed by Sir Clive Sinclair, and since it appeared on IndieGoGo, it raised over £150k.
It’ll be built in Britain too, which is obviously something that Clive Sinclair is very keen on.
So, in case you missed the chat about this, the Vega will fit the processing power of the original ZX Spectrum and over 1,000 games inside it. Not bad at all. If you want more games, then there’s a MicroSD card slot so you can get more on there.
One wonderful thing for Speccy nerds, is that this new console will allow you to program and create your own games, just like in the olden days, which revolutionised gaming for everyone.
How much to go back in time and play all these? Well, it’ll set you back £99.99. Find out more here.
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.
Men! Are you worried about your technological devices making your junk sizzle and wither thanks to radiation? Have you been sat in bed with a laptop on your knee, cooking your gonads? Do you think your phone is somehow making your widger boil?
Well, fear not, because someone has invented some ‘smart’ underwear which is designed to protect your business, and ensure that you’re fertility is unaffected.
Richard Branson has already described these scads as “underpants for superheroes”, because the Wireless Armour underwear contains an underlining of pure silver, woven into the fabric, to protect your unmentionables against 99.9% of electromagnetic radiation.
That’s the stuff that emits from smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Inventor Joseph Perkins said: “Like so many people, my smartphone and laptop use has increased dramatically in recent years, which made me realise that I was exposing myself to large amounts of electromagnetic radiation, mostly centred on my groin.”
“With my physics background I knew there must be a way to shield from electromagnetic radiation using a simple solution. Wireless Armour has been tested by an industry leader in wireless shielding and the results show that our fabric shields against 99.9% of the radiation emitted between 100MHz to 2.6GHz.”
“Put simply, this covers the entire range of radiation emitted by wireless devices, from voice and text through to 4G and wi-fi, almost everything is blocked.”
Let’s just hope you don’t end up with argyria from the hi ho silver lining – the illness you get when you’re poisoned by silver and it makes your skin look like you’re a smurf, like this fella.